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‘Acapulco’ brings the Mexican resort town to a new generation of viewers

Acapulco, Mexico, was once the playground for the world’s elite. At the height of its fame, this tropical resort has attracted big screen legends like Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles and Errol Flynn. It also attracted John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy on their honeymoon in 1953.

Now, Mexican actors Eugenio Derbez and Enrique Arrizon want to bring the stories of this glamorous place to a new generation of viewers in the bilingual cross-border comedy series from Apple TV + which begins Friday.

“All the Hollywood celebrities, royalty the world over were there, always, because the parties were really, really, really good,” Derbez, also the show’s executive producer, told NBC News in a video interview. .

“Acapulco” tells the story of the coming of age of Máximo Gallardo (played by Arrizon) in Spanish and English. Gallardo is an ambitious hut boy in his twenties at Acapulco’s most popular resort in 1984.

Enrique Arrizon in a scene from the new series “Acapulco”. Cate Cameron / Apple TV +

But viewers will first encounter a much older and richer Gallardo (played by Derbez) in present-day Malibu, California. This fortune billionaire tells his nephew Hugo (played by Raphael Alejandro) his life-changing story that begins with a dream in Las Colinas (in Spanish for “The Hills”).

Offscreen, Arrizon and Derbez, who grew up going to Acapulco, described the tropical getaway as a “hangout” that was fashionable, or the essence of what was happening culturally and socially, in the city. Mexico and around the world from the late 1940s to the 1980s.

The Apple TV + series pays homage to the various cultural influences that have transformed Acapulco into a global resort town. During a fun encounter in the first episode, a young Gallardo says he learned English with Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones and Danny Zuko from “Grease.”

But the series also takes a closer look at how celebrities from Acapulco have changed the outlook for Mexicans and ordinary Americans.

“On the other hand, you have the employees’ vision of what was going on,” Arrizon said. “Máximo is in his first job, realizing that the whole world is different from what his mother told him since he was a child.”

This complexity is also part of the allure that makes the Mexican resort interesting on and off screen.

“Acapulco has lots and lots of layers,” Derbez said. “And I think you’re going to get engaged by starting to listen to all these stories that Máximo is going to tell you.”

While Acapulco was made popular by Hollywood legends and millionaires of the 1940s and 1950s, the Mexican resort has also attracted thousands of tourists from around the world.

Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd on their honeymoon in Acapulco, Mexico, in 1957.Bettmann Archives

“On the beaches, of course, we meet mostly Americans, from Alaska to Maine, from Texas to Florida. But there are also Germans, Italians, Dutch East Indies, South Americans, French, English, Swedes and South Africans, ”The New York Times reported on February 4, 1940.

The 1948 diary reported that the daily rate for two guests during the more intense winter months between November and June for “luxury accommodation” was $ 21, while a bungalow room could be as cheap as $ 12. $.

Rita Hayworth cuts her birthday cake at an intimate party aboard Errol Flynn’s yacht “Zaca”. on November 19, 1946 in Acapulco, Mexico. Celebrating with her, left to right: Errol Flynn and his wife Nora and her husband, Orson Welles.Bettmann Archives

For reference, the Census Bureau in 1950 estimated that the median income of American families in 1948 was $ 3,200. Yet the rates of Acapulco hotels were within the reach of many tourists. Another New York Times article in 1950 said Mexico attracted around 500,000 visitors, an all-time tourist record.

This Mexican destination became even more culturally accessible in the 1960s when Elvis Presley featured the legendary resort in his 1963 film “Fun in Acapulco”. Even the Flintstones hammered him on vacation in 1964 at “Rockapulco”.

Both actors fondly pointed out that famous Mexicans like Mexican comedy legend Cantinflas and pop culture icon Luis Miguel mingled with international celebrities in Acapulco.

Derbez also said her mother, soap opera star Silvia Derbez, got her uncredited first movie role in the 1948 film “Tarzan and the Sirens” with another resort celebrity: Hollywood legend Johnny Weissmuller.

On screen, Acapulco is portrayed as a place where the dreams of the celebrities and the working class staff who serve them could come true.

However, the first episode of the series also makes it clear that Gallardo and other characters will face an ultimate question: what price are you willing to pay for your dreams?

This existential question hangs over the two Mexican actors in real life as they reflect on the choices they’ve made to pursue their Hollywood dreams.

“I have sacrificed a lot for my career,” Arrizon said in a video interview. “I was hardly going to go to my sister’s wedding. Imagine that, because I was making a movie. This stuff happens when you hit your goals, and the more you hit, the more problems you start having.

Likewise, Derbez said he almost gave up on his acting dream because of the price he was paying with his family.

“There was a point in 2011 when I said, ‘I’m leaving the American dream’, because I sacrifice myself every weekend, and instead of being with my family, with my kids, I come here. in the United States to try to make a career and nothing is happening, ”he said. “But then I think the universe rewarded me, and I made a movie that changed my life again.”

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