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Hector Jimenez Talks About Nacho Libre

The Wrestling Comedy Starring Jack Black

By Fred Topel

Hector Jimenez Talks About Nacho Libre

Hector Jimenez in Paramount Pictures' Nacho Libre.

© Paramount Pictures
Hector Jimenez on Landing the Role in Nacho Libre: “I make an audition at the beginning for a supporting role and they liked my job, so they called me and they wanted to see me in another role. I got the other role and in one more week, I had a phone call and I got the notice that I’d been pre-selected for the bigger role.”

Jimenez came into Nacho Libre with little experience acting in films. “I had two Mexican films before this one, but I’m a stage actor. I have 13 years acting [on stage].” Jimenez added, “I never expected this one, of course. I’m dreaming with this but when I got it, I just took my chance.”

Immediately after completing high school, Jimenez knew acting was what he wanted to do with his life. “In Tijuana in got into a theater company - a stage company - and I worked for eight years there. Then I moved to Mexico City and I worked with a Swiss company – a clown theater. And then I started to work on films.”

Life on the Set of Nacho Libre: Jimenez said Jack Black didn’t stay in character and contrary to what you might believe, Black also didn’t spend his off-time just joking around. Jimenez says Black was very professional yet they had a great time filming Nacho Libre. “Every day we enjoyed it a lot. I think the whole crew enjoyed working in this film. On my first day when I saw the whole crew laughing and everything, I relaxed a lot because I saw they enjoyed it so we had a really good time every day.”

Hector Jimenez’ Wresting Style: Jimenez is very nimble and so he’s able to twist and turn his opponent whatever way is called for in the script. Jimenez describes his specialty: “I don't know how they call it here in English, but it’s a really weird [punch.] It’s like a weird tool where the wrestler’s on his back on the ring, and I get on top of him with my arms behind me.”

He didn’t come into the project with a background in wrestling. “When I was a kid, I went to see a lot of luchas,” explained Jimenez, “but I never wrestled before.” Jimenez’ lack of experience didn’t matter as he was put through extensive training before filming began. “We have a teacher from the Canadian establishment. They teach all of the choreographies to us.”

Jimenez also spent time getting himself into the right shape to look good in the ring. “I have another kind of training like sometimes I’m running, I take some karate classes and I usually take dance classes also so that’s why I can make some moves. But we trained for two weeks all the choreographies.”

On His Wrestling Wear: Jimenez revealed he has a cool costume in Nacho Libre. “Yeah. At the beginning I feel naked, but at the end I love my costume. It’s a small shirt, baby blue with a pair of boots, red ones, and that’s all.”

On Jack Black as a Tag Team Partner: “He’s great. He’s awesome. When I saw him wrestling for the first time, he surprised me a lot because he had all the movements like a wrestler.”

In the film, Jimenez’ character helps Jack Black train to become a wrestler. “Yeah, our training is really silly but then I really got the movements in the film. In the beginning, we don’t know how to wrestle for real and we improve in the film.”

Working with Napoleon Dynamite Writer/Director Jared Hess on Nacho Libre: “I love that film. It’s awesome. I think Jared Hess is a genius because when he made that film, he was I don't know, maybe 23-24 years. Now he has 26 and this is a great film. I think we can expect more from him because he is really talented.”

Jimenez continued. “Hess taught me a lot because we have a really good relationship. I understand his humor and when I saw the film, Napoleon Dynamite, I was already shooting. And I know [my sense of humor is the same as] his humor and that kind of humor that he likes. I think that’s why they choose me.”

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