Not long ago we’ve reviewed “Counterpunch” a quite powerful urban drama about a bi-polar boxer, who despite certain downfalls, continues towards his goal – to become a Golden Gloves boxing champion.
“Counterpunch” was the story that real-life Golden Gloves boxer Alvaro Orlando wanted to tell. He’s the one playing the leading character, Emilio.
“This film is based on my life growing up in Miami. The character of my grandmother and my uncle are real, and I did box in Miami for years,” Orlando told BZFilm exclusively.
“I won a lot of my fights and was thinking of going pro, until I found acting… But if I wasn’t pursuing acting, I would be a boxer, no questions asked.”
“Counterpunch” has a few similarities to the great boxing dramas of the past, such as “Rocky” (1976) and “Raging Bull”, and Orlando admitted those were his favorite movies.
“That’s why I wanted to make Counterpunch. In my opinion both these movies didn’t really have that much to do with boxing more than it did witht the overall theme and message both films gave,” he said, adding that it took him four years to make the project come true.
“I started writing it when I had no idea how to write at all, me and my friend bought 4 writing books, drank some Red Bull and finished them in a couple of days,” Orlando recalled.
He admitted, that about 230 pages of an outline with dialogue were written.
“I don’t know even know what to call it, it was like brain throw up,” he says. “I didn’t know if I wanted to write it from my grandma’s perspective or my uncle’s perspective, so it went back and forth alot… Until I chose to tell it from Emilio’s point of view.”
Orlando says a lot of things in “Counterpunch” were made up, and yet some were very personal, and “extremely tough to do”.
“I was I was constantly challenged, and it’s a good place for me to operate from, that place were you don’t know if you can do it, you are being pushed and people are constantly telling you that this might be too much,” he said.
Orlando noted, that his character, Emilio was a 100 percent underdog in anything he does, and that is exactly how he himself felt when making “Counterpunch”.
“As I was producing it and acting in it, then I would do major re-writes on the day of shooting, which would drive the director (friend, Kenneth Castillo) which did an amazing job and was patient with me when I was going artistically crazy,” he said.
Speaking of how he played the part of Emilio, who is bi-polar, Orlando said he wanted to do his best, making a heartfelt story.
“It’s very tough when you play someone who has a mental condition, because there is so much going on and you constantly have to be aware of how that person would act in that situation and what would trigger certain things immediately than wouldn’t really trigger others,” he said, adding that he loves playing this type of characters.
Orlando noted, that he’s all about breaking stereotypes in his films.
“I love playing the underdogs, the social mishaps, the losers (if you will). I’ve played a red headed transvestite, an autistic student, and a lot of odd characters that I love to inhabit,” he said.
Speaking of the cast on “Counterpunch”, Orlando said it was amazing, and that everyone that was involved in this film really cared about making this story.
“I hope people come out of this movie and say, I’m never gonna give up In what makes me happy, and to appreciate their family, always,” he said.
WORKING WITH BAUER & TREJO
Of course we couldn’t skip a few questions on how Orlando worked with already cult actors Danny Trejo and Steven Bauer.
“Danny Trejo just got back from another movie, he is the most busy human being I’ve ever met,” Orlando recalls. “I was really flattered at all the nice things he had to say.”
“The first scene we did together was when I flip out at the mental hospital and that was our introduction. He was shocked and surprised, he had no idea what he was in for, I was extremely prepared and ready to go and I remember the energy being a little low but after that scene it was off to the races,” he said.
“Most of our scenes with him were improvised, I would start the scene and we would just go from there, impulses and insticts,” Orlando noted. “The director did a great job and letting us just go and keep playing, he just captured it and it’s all there in the film.”
Orlando noted that he likes seeing Trejo play these kind of parts, because in real life he’s really a nice guy.
“In my personal humble opinion, I think this is his best work and you really see him connect with another actor, a lot of great moments,” he said.
With Steven Bauer, it was a little different. As it turned out, Orlando and Bauer had something in common.
“Steven Bauer is one of my favorite people in Hollywood. I hope he gets a second chance like Mikey Rourke did and get a film that gets a lot of recognition and some awards,” Orlando said. “I loved Scarface and I was always a big fan of Steven. I am from the same area is Steven and I am also Cuban.”
“In our kitchen scene, were we have a stand off, and he really gave me a lot to work with and we went kind of method until it was all over we then hugged and snapped out of it,” Orlando recalled. “But that scene was a little tough on me because it was very real and I had to go back to those places were we don’t want to go.”
“Steven is extremely nice, he’s so giving and aware of the other actors needs. He gives actors a lot of comfort, I even see him directing films,” Orlando said.
Orlando also mentioned some other actors that portrayed his mother and uncle in the film.
“They really nailed the character, they transformed into my real family members and I can’t believe how real it became,” he said. “Even when my family saw it, they said WOW, they nailed us really good, it was like they were watching themselves in a time machine.”
THAT’S A WRAP! WHAT’S NEXT?
“Counterpunch” was shot on a tight budget – something that Orlando refused to talk about, however he did say that the whole film was shot in two weeks.
“We are currently seeking international distribution, we got several people interested in AFM but we want to go with the right company that gives us the deal with think we deserve,” he said.
“I really want people to see this film overseas, it’s an international film,” Orlando noted.
He also said that his next planned film is “Pick Up Artist”, which he himself wrote.
“I plan to play the lead roles and get some stars attached, that is my goal and that is what I will do,” he said. “I know it will be extremely hard and people think I should just sell the script, but I am going to go with my gut and attempt to get some A list talent.”
Orlando noted that the script is based on his experience of the VH1 reality show of the same name that he once won the grand prize on of $50,000.
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