Eugenio Derbez has been working on getting “The Valet” made for quite some time.
“When we started writing this, Barack Obama was the president. Then Trump came in and we decided to change everything, because it was a different country,” the actor told me at the film’s premiere on Wednesday night at The Montalbán in Hollywood. “So it took us like, seven years to get the final draft. But I think we nailed it. This is a love letter to Latinos and working class immigrants, but it’s also a very, very funny movie.”
Derbez stars in the Hulu rom-com as a valet attendant who is hired to pretend he’s dating a movie star (Samara Weaving) so she could squash rumors that she’s having an affair with a Los Angeles real estate tycoon (Max Greenfield).
“Prior to this, it was more like a comedy just to be a comedy,” Derbez said. “Then we wanted to give a voice to all the people that are kind of invisible. There’s actually a line where I say, ‘You can’t imagine how hard it is when people hand me the keys and they don’t even look me in the eye.’ That’s what many janitors, cooks, waiters feel. They’re making this country better, but nobody sees them really for who they are. So that was what we were trying to bring up in this last draft.”
Weaving’s movie star character is an over-the-top entitled diva. Director Richard Wong gave her a lot of latitude. “I was able to go as far as I wanted,” she told me. “I was like, ‘Pull me back if I got too crazy.’ But he said, ‘You can’t get crazy enough. Just keep going.’”
Weaving added, “I read the script and I was like, I could really have fun with this. It’s hard work because it’s really difficult making people laugh, but I could just be really free in that role and be an absolute psycho.”
Also walking the carpet for the Lionsgate-produced film was Betsy Brandt, who plays Greenfield’s wife in the movie. It was her first event since the onset of the pandemic. “It feels a little weird,” she said. “But also it feels totally the same.”
“The Valet” premieres on Hulu and across Disney streaming services globally on May 20.