Allen Maldonado on bringing comedy into ‘American Carnage’

Allen Maldonado as Big Mac in the thriller/comedy AMERICAN CARNAGE, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

Allen Maldonado stars as Big Mac in the comedic horror film, American Carnage, and we got to chat with him about the film, putting a face to immigration and being the comedic relief.

Synopsis: After a governor issues an executive order to arrest the children of undocumented immigrants, the newly detained youth are offered an opportunity to have their charges dropped by volunteering to provide care to the elderly. Once inside the elder care facility, the volunteers discover the governor and the facility’s supervisor have cooked up a horrifyingly depraved conspiracy that endangers the young and the old in this twisted thriller-comedy.

American Carnage is directed and written by Diego Hallivis (Curvature, Game Time) alongside co-writer and brother Julio Hallivis (The Devil Below, Trespassers). The film stars Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Bumblebee, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Love, Simon), Jenna Ortega (X, Scream), Allen Maldonado (“The Wonder Years,” “Black-ish”), Bella Ortiz (“Chicago Med”) and Eric Dane (“Euphoria,” “Grey’s Anatomy”).

Check out our interview with Allen!

What was your reaction to reading the script?

Allen: Oh, man. The twists and turns were interesting involving the topic. And that was what was profound to me. I really love the messaging underneath this horror film genre that they created. That alone was a great point and then the role of Big Mac was such fun and comedic relief in this serious type of space. I felt like it was needed and it was important. So it was easy. It was a no brainer.

(L-R) Allen Maldonado as Big Mac, Jenna Ortega as Camila, Bella Ortiz as Micah, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as JP in the thriller/comedy AMERICAN CARNAGE, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Yeah, you got a lot of the comedy in this comedy/horror. What was it like getting to be the comedic relief within this?

Allen: It was interesting. In Spain, they speak Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish (laughs). So to get an entire crew to laugh at my jokes was the greatest confirmation to what I was doing on screen, being that I didn’t speak my language. So I had to get to a place where it was comedic energetically rather than just the lines, so it made me dive a little deeper into the comedy where it was able to be translated universally. So that was really interesting and fun in learning and exploring how that worked.

Do you have a favorite line or a favorite moment from the movie?

Allen: Oh, man. My favorite moment? It’s not in the movie, but it’s in the movie. There’s a stunt, and not to give it away, but there’s a stunt in the movie that I fell asleep in the middle of as I was training for a marathon while filming this movie. Sometimes we would get out at like two, three o’clock in the morning and I’d still go run and be right back on set the next morning. So I would nap often. So for this particular stunt, I end up on the floor and I fall asleep and I awake to the entire crew taking pictures around me and just having a good time with it. That’s what I loved the most, just the family that we all kind of became in filming it. So, there’s countless moments in the movie that I love, one being a Die Hard reference, I’ll just give that out. That’s one of my favorite movies of all time, so to be able to pay homage to that and the movie was really dope.

Speaking of stunts, did you do all of your own stunts?

Allen: I think yeah, I believe so. I didn’t really do anything crazy. But yeah, I think I did all of them.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was when you ended up with an army of elderly people. What was it like working with all of them? 

Allen: Yeah! That was my crew. There was one dude that looked exactly like Blue from Old School, I don’t know if you remember that movie, but there was an elderly dude in Old School and he looked exactly like him, it was hilarious. We took pictures and everything. I loved everybody in those scenes. I had some great conversations with them.

I also love that scene where you scare the woman in the car, that’s my favorite.

Allen: Yeah, that was a late night. It was like four o’clock in the morning when we were shooting that.

Allen Maldonado as Big Mac in the thriller/comedy AMERICAN CARNAGE, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
What was it like working with the other cast mates like Jenna and Jorge and Bella?

Allen: It was a dream, they’re such a talented group of human beings. They’re incredible people outside of just their talents. You know, Bella and I lived across from each other, so we have a bond and a friendship that will last forever. It was just incredible. Jenna is just a superstar and to watch her blossom into the actress and just see her from then to now is, I’m incredibly honored by the experience that we had while making this film.

This movie touches on a very, very heavy topic of immigration and race and what’s going on in America right now. So for you what was it like to be a part of that?

Allen: It was important. It was important that we’re able to shed light on a topic in an entertaining way and not make it feel preachy or force the discussion rather than you just think about it. We’re able to put faces to the word immigrant. That’s what this story kinda does, it showcases where you can laugh at a joke by a Big Mac and now you can associate with that’s an immigrant. That same person, that’s a human, rather than a thing and that’s often how a lot of issues are handled being that you’re not dealing with human beings, you know? So I love that we’re able to add faces to the word immigration.

With all that said, what do you really hope that people take away from watching this movie?

Allen: I think what they should take away is it’s a good movie and we’re even though we’re tackling a very tough topic we do it in such an entertaining way that you’re going to jump, you’re going to laugh, and then you’re also gonna think. That’s ultimately what I want the audience to take from this, just to think after this film. We’re definitely not giving you the answers to immigration in this film, but just to think about it in a different way that will further help you make decisions in regards to it.

Is there anything else that you want people to know about American Carnage?

Allen: It’s a good film. It’s such a diverse group of Latinos on screen that I’m excited for people to see. The different shades of Latinos from around the world are at the forefront of what this film is and I think that’s another great point that I want people to acknowledge as well.

(L-R) Allen Maldonado as Big Mac, Jenna Ortega as Camila, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as JP, Bella Ortiz as Micah, and Jorge Diaz as Chris in the thriller/comedy AMERICAN CARNAGE, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
American Carnage will be in theaters and VOD & Digital July 15th.