In the early '90s, there was an up-and-coming comedian who could morph in and out of characters at the drop of a dime. If you looked at the U.S. box office, you might say i’m talking about “Ace Ventura” and “The Mask” star Jim Carrey. But in Latin America, the man with the elastic face and an unlimited reservoir of charisma was Eugenio Derbez, who in 1993 got his first variety sketch show and rose to fame with Spanish speaking audiences. Derbez is now starring in “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” Paramount’s adaptation of the Nickelodeon children’s show. How did Derbez go from sketch comedy to American movie star? TheWrap has tracked his evolution below.
"Al Derecho y Al Derbez" (1993-1995)
Derbez created many of his recurring alter egos in his first sketch comedy show. 'Al Derecho y Al Derbez' introduced us to the kooky philosophy professor Armando Hoyos, who loves wordplay and unusually large eye glasses, and the immature devil Diablito. The Diablito sketch was similar to "America's Funniest Home Videos" in that Derbez, with red face paint and a sinister grin, watches clips of people fail. But here, Diablito is in a control room supposedly watching a live stream of the real world, always one button push away from making someone fall or miss a goal
in a soccer game.
"Mujer, Casos de la Vida Real" (1997)
Derbez appeared in the episode "Donde Esta Mi Hija?" (or "Where is My Daughter?" in English) in this Mexican anthology series that reenacted real life events. 'Mujer, casos de la vida real' was a staple of daytime television, running for 21 years until its final episode in 2007. Derbez later in his career would spend an entire episode of his sketch show "Derbez En Cuando" parodying "Casos." Derbez dressed as the famed host Silvia Pinal, and later in the episode he would actually sit down with Pinal
"Mulan" (1998) and "Shrek" (2001)
Derbez's quick and high pitched rants led him to play the Spanish version of Eddie Murphy not once but twice. Derbez voiced Mushu the dragon in "Mulan" and Donkey from "Shrek" (both Murphy in the U.S.) in the Spanish dubbed versions of the family-friendly flicks. Derbez would go on to dub Donkey in each "Shrek" sequel.
"La Familia P. Luche" (2002-2012)
Similar to the "Blues Brothers" and "McGruber" on "Saturday Night Live," Derbez took one of his more popular sketches and expanded it into its own universe. "La Familia P. Luche" follows a dysfunctional family who happens to wear plush-looking clothing (P. Luche plays off the spanish word for plush, "peluche"). The P. Luche family came back to bicker and skirmish several times after its initial run from 2002-04, including in 2007 and again in 2012.
"Under the Same Moon" (2007)
Derbez's most well known dramatic role came when he played an illegal immigrant worker Enrique who helps a young boy Carlitos reunite with his mother Rosario. While Enrique doesn't originally embrace Carlitos, toward the end of the film Enrique ends up sacrificing himself at the hands of police to let Carlitos run free.
"Jack and Jill" (2011)
Derbez started testing the waters in American movies in a role as Felipe in this Adam Sandler comedy. While "Jack and Jill" performed modestly at the box office, poor critical reception of the film may have led Derbez to hold from moving to the states until 2015.
"Instructions Not Included" (2013)
This dramedy directed and starring Derbez follows a single playboy who has his child dropped off at his door step out of nowhere. The film would be a hit for Derbez, bringing in $100 million
at the box office.
"How to be a Latin Lover" (2017)
Maximo ("Derbez") is a gigolo who spends his life living off the riches of the older women he seduces. "How to be a Latin Lover" was bolstered by its supporting cast that included Salma Hayek, Kristen Bell, Raquel Welch and Rob Lowe.
Derbez returns to the playboy role in "Overboard," where his character Leonardo Montenegro is tricked into thinking he's the husband of someone who cleans the yacht he's on, a single mother played by Anna Faris ("Scary Movie," "The House Bunny"). "Overboard" was a gender-reversed remake of the 1987 movie with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.
"Dora and the Lost City of Gold" (2019)
Derbez gets to play a villainous jungle guide who initially helps the lead explorer Dora, played by Isabel Moner. Derbez also co-produced the film, which grossed $17 million
opening weekend. TheWrap senior advisor Anne Vasquez said the film "goes beyond numbers to capture multiculturalism without treating it as a foreign object."