Mariana Treviño & Manuel Garcia-Rulfo Discuss Tom Hanks

Jan 6, 2023

In Marc Forster’s adaptation of A Man Called Otto, Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks plays a grouchy widower who seems to find everything wrong with the world around him. After the passing of his beloved wife, Otto (Hanks) withdraws from society and even finds himself contemplating suicide. When a boisterous and friendly family moves in next door, and a cat happens to take up roost with him, Otto begins to realize what it truly means to live.

Based on the New York bestseller by author Frederik Backman, this emotional and heartwarming movie tells of love found and love lost, and the importance of a community to help rebuild. Actress Mariana Treviño (Overboard) and action-star-turned-dad, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven), play the married couple who move their growing family next door to the uninviting Otto. It isn’t until Treviño’s pregnant Marisol persists in drawing her grump of a neighbor out of his shell that Otto’s hardened heart begins to soften.

Before A Man Called Otto was released, Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with Mariana Treviño and co-star Manuel Garcia-Rulfo about the film. During their interview, they discuss how they got involved with A Man Called Otto and what about the movie appealed most to them. They also share their most challenging scenes from other projects, the significance of cats in our world, and what it was like working with Tom Hanks. For all this and more, check out the interview in the video above, or you can read the full transcript below.

I want to start with congratulations. You’re both so good in the movie. I think this Tom Hanks is going to have a career. He’s going to land on his feet.

GARCIA-RULFO: You think so? I don’t know. I don’t know.

Image via Sony

Mariana, I can’t believe you were the same person I saw in Narcos: Mexico. I couldn’t believe it. When I was prepping to talk to you, I was like, “This is not the same woman. No way.” So I just want to give you huge props.

TREVIÑO: Yeah, thank you.

Manuel, I’m curious, I read that Tom suggested you for this role after you worked with him previously, and you can sometimes be known as a serious action person and this is such a different role for you. When someone gets you a role like this, what do you get them as a gift?

GARCIA-RULFO: Well, first of all, yes, you’re right. For me, it’s very hard to do comedy, or at least for me, I feel like I’m not confident enough to do it. But then I heard that Tom was like, “No, Manuel. Let’s bring Manuel.” And I’m like, if Tom says, I have to do it. But yeah, I did give him, first of all, a lot of thanks. And I did bring him… Remember, [to Treviño] cómo se dice “manteles”?

TREVIÑO: For the table, like the tablecloth?

Oh, yeah, tablecloth.

GARCIA-RULFO: Yeah, yeah, because he was telling me about his house and blah, blah, blah. So I bring him and (Hanks’ wife and producer) Rita [Wilson] some presents. We have tequila I drop in there as well.

For both of you, what was it about the script and material that said, “I really need to do this?”

TREVIÑO: Well, obviously because Tom and (director) Marc [Forster] were attached to the project, and it’s like a dream come true to work with both of them. And it is a beautiful script. The novel is amazing. And I think it was very faithful [to] what (screenwriter) David McGee did and transformed for the film. And it’s just a beautiful story that speaks to all of us at this moment and speaks about community, about finding your own family. And we have become isolated with the pandemic a lot, and fragmented in so many ways, that I think it’s a good moment to see this film.

GARCIA-RULFO: Yeah, I think so too. I mean, for me, it was the people involved. Tom inviting me, of course. I always wanted to work with Marc Forster. I met him a few years back and I told him I loved his work and I wanted to work with him sometime. So that was that, this story. And also, I want to bring my mom to a movie [with] no guns. Something that she would be crying…. Because it is just a beautiful story, so I’m really proud to be part of it.

Image via Sony

I love cats. And this film has a cat. And I’m just wondering, do you think one of the morals of the movie is a cat can help save your life?

TREVIÑO: Totally. It saves mine every day. I have three cats and well, I love that aspect because they do comfort me, and they’re my companions of life and I love them. And I just love that Otto finds the savior in domestic cats.

Yeah, I love that aspect of the film. I love talking about people’s careers and what they’ve done. And the question I like asking a lot of people, for both of you, is when you think back on all the projects you’ve worked on, what specific shot ended up being the toughest one that you’ve been a part of?

GARCIA-RULFO: For me, I think, it [was] doing Michael Bay’s 6 Underground, rolling on a car, being strapped on things, and just rolling and rolling and rolling. That was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done because I get claustrophobic, so being tied into the car, just going like this [gestures] over and over and over, I think that was the toughest thing.

TREVIÑO: Yeah. Well, I just worked on a series called To See the Eye, and there’s a scene where she has a breakdown, a bit of a psychotic breakdown in a very important family meeting. And it was challenging to go into that state and then reel back and do it again. I mean, it was emotionally challenging, but it was very rewarding because all the work that was done previously led to that moment. It was the emotional pivots. And when it’s done and when you do it along with everybody else, it just feels so rewarding. It was difficult, but it was very rewarding.

Image via Sony

Obviously, like everyone, and I’m sure both of you, I think Tom Hanks is just an amazing actor. He could read the phone book and I would want to watch it.

TREVIÑO: Totally.

I’m curious, what is it like watching someone like that up close? Because he’s such a professional, and he is not a diva. So what is it really working with someone like that, and what do you take away from it to bring to your own work going forward?

GARCIA-RULFO: I mean, for me, it is my second film with him and I can’t emphasize it, I can’t understand how a character or a person like this huge star, Tom Hanks, can be this – it should be like that, but – this humble and this welcoming. And I think he’s the captain of the boat, so whatever he brings into the set, the energy that he brings, the attitude that he brings, that’s the way everybody… So that’s why I think, I mean, especially the two films that I’ve been with him, they work so nicely because the energy that he brings, everyone’s in the same page.

TREVIÑO: Yeah, and really the scenes that we worked, he is so truthful all the time. He works from a place of just truth and he can portray it so, not effortlessly, but it comes out with such sincerity in the moment. And he’s a generous actor. He stands there with you and he gives you everything, even if it’s your take. He would be working completely open. His heart was like… And so working with so much truth all the time, and he happens to be a genius in every sense. He’s so smart and he’s so resourceful in every possible way, and all that goes into his performance. And so, to be the recipient of all those contents, it just makes your performance better, obviously, in any way. I mean, it’s just such a blessing.

A Man Called Otto is now playing in select theaters.

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