Will Hollywood go ‘ga-ga’ over Henry?
It’s just possible the film world may be witnessing the debut of the character actor Happy Eyes Montelongo.
In a whirlwind few months so dramatic longtime Rockdale resident Henry Montelongo can hardly believe it, he won a non-speaking role in a major Hollywood movie, auditioned for two speaking roles, acquired an agent and is in midst of taking acting lessons.
“I feel like I won the lottery, is the only way to describe it,” Montelongo said.
How big is the movie he’s in? Its stars include the international phenomenon Lady GaGa in her first film role. It also stars Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Cuba Gooding Jr., Martin Sheen and Mel Gibson.
He moved from Rockdale to Little River three years ago. “I’ve still got lots of relatives in Rockdale on both sides of the family,” he said.
An acting career was the last thing on his mind when his son, Leo, called and asked Montelongo to go with him to the casting call for “Machete Kills” in Austin.
“I really didn’t want to do it, but I don’t think Leo wanted to go by himself so I went with him,” Montelongo said. “This was literally a line around the block.”
“All they were doing was taking pictures of you and then you’d go home,” he recalled. “They w eren’t’ s aying much of anything to anybody but when they took my picture, the lady said ‘you’ve got happy eyes’.”
“I didn’t really know what that meant,” he laughed. “I guess I still don’t.”
They called him back and offered Montelongo a speaking role in the movie.
So he returned for an audition.
“I had no experience in acting,” he said. “I guess I got pretty nervous when they turned the camera on. But they told me they could probably use me as an extra even if I didn’t get the speaking role.”
THUMBS UP—Then things happened quickly.
Apparently, Montelongo’s “happy eyes” photo got around. He acquired an agent and was invited to audition for a role in a second movie.
It’s called “ Skydancer.” He hadn’t heard back from “Machete Kills” so he went to the second audition and tried out for the role of a homeless man. Montelongo didn’t get that role. But then the phone rang. It was the “Machete Kills” casting company offering him a role as a “noticeable extra.”
That’s exactly what it sounds like, someone in a movie who stands out from the other extras.
So Montelongo got to go before the camera in Austin for a location shot in a restaurant.
He can’t divulge anything about the scene—those in the movie sign contracts promising not to reveal details about the plot or production— but he can say that he was only about eight feet away from Danny Trejo, the movie’s star when the camera was rolling.
“When it was over, I heard someone call me, turned around and it was him,” Montelongo said. “He grinned and gave me a big thumbs up.”
Montelongo got to see a number of the “Machete Kills” stars but admits he’s not too familiar with the work of many, with the exception of Trejo.
SEQUEL—The movie is a sequel to the surprise 2010 hit “Machete,” also starring Trejo.
That film had an interesting origin.
There was a fake three-minute movie trailer for a nonexistent film “Machete” in the Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez movie “Grindhouse.”
Reaction was so positive that Rodriguez decided to expand the fake trailer into an actual movie.
It was a hit. To say “Machete” was an action film might be a bit of an understatement.
One critic wrote: “If you enjoy watching a 60-year-old man running around slaughtering people with a machete, this is the film for you.”
“Machete Kills,” which will be released next year, is expected to be more of the same.
Montelongo, of course, met Rodriguez on the set of “Machete Kills” remembering that the director was “telling everybody what to do.”
Nobody yet knows just how much of Montelongo’s performance will end up in the movie, or on the proverbial “cutting room floor.”
“Leo told me it looked like there was a closeup of me, from the way the camera was moving,” Montelongo said. “Of course, we really don’t know.”
LESSONS—He has signed a contract with an agent. “That’s pretty much for my protection,” he said. “Apparently my picture is out there. They’ve already advised me it was in my best interest not to go to one audition that I’d thought about.”
But he is taking acting lessons. He was in two sessions over the weekend and will be in another this weekend.
“I’ve been told I might get to try out for some commercials,” he said.
Montelongo will be able to go before the camera in San Antonio and then have his tryout performance evaluated in New York or Los Angeles in the future.
AUTOGRAPH—The Montelongo family is getting plenty of mileage out of his newfound “celebrity” status.
“My daughter called and I told her that couldn’t talk to her right now because I had to go to an audition,” he laughed.
But the best line, to date, has come from Montelongo’s wife, SanJuana.
“She says that she wants my first autograph,” Montelongo said. “She said to take my paycheck from the movie, turn it over, put my autograph on the back and hand it to her!”