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Adrian Alonso

Foreign exchange star

Adrian Alonso, the star of Patricia Riggen’s Spanish-language drama “Under the Same Moon,” went to sleep on Aug. 21 believing Javier Bardem had nabbed 2008’s Imagen Award for best actor. When Alonso woke up the following morning, he found out he’d won.

“I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was definitely going to Bardem,” Alonso says with a laugh.

His triumph, Riggen says, isn’t a surprise, considering how “perfect” Alonso was in the role of Carlitos, a nine-year-old Mexican boy who recklessly crosses the border to find his mother in Los Angeles. “He was the perfect combination: exactly like working with an adult but with the purity of a child,” she gushes.

If that sounds biased, consider Boston Globe critic Ty Burr’s review: “Mostly Riggen is lucky to have Adrian Alonso playing the boy, Carlitos Reyes. He’s not a little heartthrob but a solid, serious kid — he’ll be a truck when he grows up.”

There are actors who wait their entire careers for that kind of praise, but Riggen says this is just the beginning of Alonso’s “great, long career as a tremendous character actor.”

“We just need to get him in rooms with casting agents,” adds Featured Artists Agency’s Brian Dreyfuss, who co-reps Alonso with William Morris’ Thor Bradwell. “As you saw in the film, he can do everything. He gets very passionate about his characters and can do all the genres.”

Although “Under the Same Moon” only shows Alonso speaking a few lines of English, the 14-year-old actor, who made his Hollywood debut as Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ son in “The Mask of Zorro,” is fluent and says he’s been studying English for four years.

“I want to work in Hollywood,” he says, “I want to act — in America, in Mexico, in Africa — it doesn’t matter. What matters is the roles.”

Riggen can’t recommend young Alonso enough: “He brings so much to the table, he’s a natural,” she says. “I think of him as our next Anthony Quinn.”

Recent breakthrough: His praised performance in “Under the Same Moon” has been recognized with Imagen and Young Artist awards.

Role model: “Al Pacino is my favorite actor. I love ‘The Godfather.'”

What’s next: “Left in L.A.,” a script written specifically for Alonso, will be shopped around this month: “It’s a comedy like ‘Home Alone,'” he says.