Mexican cinema can thank the orange groves of California for Lopez’s much-lauded acting career. He was one of many migrant workers picking oranges in the fields when a serious back injury forced his return to Mexico. He spent nearly a year convalescing in bed, where he had ample time to catch up on his reading, particularly poetry and plays. Once recovered, Lopez enrolled in a Mexico City drama school run by one of his favorite poets, Xavier Villaurrutia.
Born in Mexico City in 1925, Lopez made his stage debut in 1951 in Garson Kanin’s “Born Yesterday,” and three years later he made his first appearance in front of the camera in Chano Urueta’s “La desconocida” (The Unknown). To date, his career has encompassed 150 stage plays, 25 telenovelas and more than 50 pics, including a few by Luis Bunuel, Jorge Fons and Roberto Gavaldon.
Fest screens the actor’s favorite film, Gavaldon’s Oscar-nommed “Macario” (1960), after the tribute Nov. 17 when Lopez receives the Premio Maya Lifetime Achievement Award.