Gloria Estefan isn’t afraid to take on new challenges, like her latest — playing the mother of the bride (and wife of lead Andy Garcia) in the Cuban American update of Father of the Bride, now streaming on HBO Max.
At 64, you’ve got your first starring role. Scary?
I don’t get scared. I was offered the role that Julia Roberts had in Mystic Pizza way back in the day when my music career was starting to explode. I wanted to focus on the music because I have been singing since I’ve talked. I knew that one day I would want to act. It’s a craft. So through the years, I’ve been preparing, studying, reading and doing a lot of things so the day the right role came around …
Even the on-screen kiss?
If I was going to kiss anyone, at least it was Andy. Of course, I was nervous. I haven't kissed anyone but my husband [and music partner Emilio Estefan] in 47 years. People are so attached to the Emilio and me — the couple — that a lot of my fans were going, “Please don’t kiss anyone in the movie.” They were the ones disapproving, not my husband, but I still shipped him out of the state when that was shot. I didn’t want to be thinking of him on the set.
What’s unique about ‘Father of the Bride’ 2022?
Each of the other versions reflects the time that they were created. So this is of our day: It’s got very strong women; it bends gender roles; the father and the mother of the bride are breaking up; it’s got extended family, which to Latinos is very important.
Is there anything that might surprise us about Andy?
He plays piano. He’s wonderful. He used to sit in all the time when we were a gig band playing a lot of parties in Miami back in the late ’70s, early ’80s. At the end of the night, he would just jump on stage and get behind our percussion. We would say, “Who is that guy?” We never met [then] because just like he jumped on the stage, he would jump off the second we finished the song.
Share a memory from your wedding day, almost 44 years ago?
My cocker spaniel ate the sleeve of my wedding dress because I had gotten cake on it. I sent it back to the wonderful woman who made my dress and she fixed it. I actually saw it the other day. I was looking for something in the warehouse and I opened the box and it was my wedding dress. Intact!
What’s it like to watch a Broadway musical of your life? [‘On Your Feet! The Musical — The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan’ tours nationally through December.]
I always cry at some point during the show, in different places, weird places. I love to see grown men cry and they did. And they tell me the movie [Father of the Bride] also has made people cry. I love to make people cry — in a good way, not sadistically. That means you’re moving them.
Your life story includes a miraculous comeback from a horrific bus crash. What got you through?
I would set small goals that I could achieve but each day I made sure that the goal was a little more advanced than the previous day. I didn’t want to go backwards. Music got me through it yet again. I knew that people were watching and my fans were very, very worried and I wanted them to see that we have a lot of power to get past the difficulties in our life. So that became my goal, to be an example to them.
You’re involved in an upcoming reality TV series, ‘Superfan.’ What might even a superfan not know about you?
At this point everybody knows I make great cosmos, that I’m the family doctor and the vet. They might not know that I have taken three boating courses and I’m the captain of my own boat. I took seamanship, piloting and navigation because Emilio isn’t interested and I want my kids to be safe with me on the boats.
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