Demián Bichir is following in the footsteps of legendary actor Anthony Quinn…
The 48-year-old former telenovela star has become only the second Mexican actor to receive a lead actor Academy Award nomination; nearly 50 years after Quinn won an Oscar for his role in Zorba the Greek.
Bichir received the nod for his starring role in A Better Life where he played Carlos Galindo, an illegal immigrant gardener living in East Los Angeles. Struggling to remain employed but undetected by immigration authorities, Galindo attempts to provide a better life for his American-born son.
“I’m overwhelmed for having my name among those incredible actors,” Bichir tells Us Weekly in a statement. “This could have never happened if Chris Weitz had not been the head of this film. He is my brother and I thank him deeply.”
Bichir’s performance—which led to a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and Independent Spirit Awards nod, has simmered on Hollywood’s back burner since awards season began.
“You know, when you encounter a character like this and a project like this, the first reaction is how lucky I am,” said Bichir in a recent interview with USA Today. “Because this is my Hamlet. This is my King Lear… It’s a bigger-than-life character that any actor would fight for it, would die to do it.”
Bichir will face-off against George Clooney (The Descendants), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and
Brad Pitt (Moneyball).
Meanwhile, Bérénice Bejo is also a first-time Oscar nominee. The 35-year-old Argentine star—who was the best-dressed Latina at this year’s Golden Globes—received a Best Supporting Actress nod for her star-making role in The Artist.
Bejo is up against Jessica Chastain (The Help), Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) and
Octavia Spencer (The Help).
Here’s a look at the other Latinos nominated for an Academy Award this year:
Music (Original Score):
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Music (Original Song):
Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown & Siedah Garrett, “Real in Rio” from Rio
Martin Scorsese’s Hugo was this year’s most nominated film with 11 nods, followed by Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist, with 10.
The 84th Academy Awards will be televised on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 26.