Vadhir Derbez on his action packed role in ‘White Elephant’

Vadhir Derbez as Carlos Garcia in the action film, WHITE ELEPHANT, a RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Film.
Poster courtesy of RLJE Film.

Vadhir Derbez is one of the biggest stars of Latinx cinema, and you can catch him as Carlos in the action/thriller, White Elephant.

White Elephant is directed by Jesse V. Johnson (Avengement, The Debt Collector) from a script by Johnson and Erik Martinez (Kung Fu Pho). The film also stars Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither, “The Walking Dead”), Bruce Willis (Red, Looper, Die Hard franchise), Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion, Seven Psychopaths, Quantum of Solace), and John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire).

When an assassination attempt is witnessed by two cops, Gabriel Tancredi, an ex-marine turned mob enforcer (Rooker), is ordered by his ruthless mob boss (Willis) to eliminate any and all threats. With an eager underling out to prove himself, rival gangs making moves and a rising body count, every step Tancredi makes threatens lives…including his own. 

Born the son of Spanish language mega star Eugenio Derbez, Vadhir first started his acting career in such Mexican TV shows as “Complices al Rescate” and “Vecinos”. In recent years he has starred in a variety of feature films including “Ladrones”, “El Tamaño Si Importa”, “3 Idiotas”, and a hilarious cameo in his father’s smash hit film “How to be a Latin Lover”. Vadhir also starred in the TV shows “Gossip Girl Acapulco”, “Entre Correr o Vivir”, “La Querida del Centauro”, “Sense 8”, and hosting “Are You The One” for MTV Latin America. Vadhir won “The Masked Singer Mexico” and “Dancing With The Stars Mexico”.

2020 saw Derbez expanding his repertoire to include more English language film and TV projects including guest starring in the British comedy “The Last Team” produced by “The Inbetweeners” production team and starring opposite Guy Pierce in the English language horror film, The Seventh Day.

Signaling his expanding power as an actor, in early 2022, Vadhir signed a multi year First Look deal with Spanish language streamer Pantaya.  

Check out my interview with Vadhir!

Vadhir Derbez as Carlos Garcia in the action film, WHITE ELEPHANT, a RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Film.
So White Elephant comes out [today]. How are you feeling?

Vadhir: I’m honestly very excited. I can’t wait to see it. I can’t wait for people to see it. This was really, really special for me. I can’t wait to see all the action fighting and everything that a director has prepared for us. 

It is very action heavy, what was that like for you?

Vadhir: It was honestly very exciting. I’ve always wanted to do things that have action in it. So being able to see myself as this cold blooded killer and have knife fights and shootouts and explosions and all that stuff with such a great cast, I really want to see it. I can’t wait.

You got to work very closely with Michael Rooker throughout the film. What was it like working with him?

Vadhir: He’s amazing. I really truly can’t tell you how close we got in that sense, like he was such a good friend. He was always laughing and making jokes. He always kept everything so light no matter what we did. So, it was always very fun working with him. We started doing a lot of improv and just ad libbing in every scene and just having fun with it. And even after we were done shooting, he and a bunch of people from the cast would go eat and on the weekends we’d hang out and that would also keep building that friendship. It was really nice working with him. He’s such a great person.

What exactly is your character’s relationship to his character?

Vadhir: (In a Darth Vader voice) He’s my father. I’m just kidding. No. He is basically Bruce Willis’s right hand and he’s the one who does all the dirty work. But he’s wanting to retire and he’s wanting to be done with the job and so he basically gets this younger version of himself, who is just full of energy and ready to go kind of and that is my character. So I’m basically his sidekick and we see, throughout the movie, him and I just going and getting a bunch of stuff done for the big boss and there’s this one job, which is like the last job that he has to do, where he basically has a change of heart and he just starts caring for one of the people that we have to kill. And that’s where things start getting a little weird because he then wants to protect someone that we need to kill so then I have to get the job done. But he’s standing in the way and he’s my friend and so, you know what I mean? It starts getting complicated. But basically that’s it. We’re friends but not really friends. We care for each other but at the same time we’re both these horrible,we don’t really care about anything kind of guys. So it’s very interesting to see that relationship play off.

Michael Rooker as Gabriel Tancredi in the action film, WHITE ELEPHANT, a RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Film.
What was it like working with Director Jesse V. Johnson?

Vadhir: Oh, Jesse is so good. He also just always kept this light feel to it, you know, there’s some directors that are just angry all the time but Jesse is totally opposite. He’s always really chill and making jokes, but he’s also very focused, especially in the action parts. He was so good at always keeping everyone focused and safe, making sure that nobody would get hurt that everyone would be like, on their shit, sorry for the word, but you know what I mean. So it was super good. He is definitely a director that directs actors and who is not just caring about everything else because sometimes, you know, there are people who also forget about the acting part and just let you do you. He really got involved with everyone and I think it shows in the movie. It shows in every scene and every interaction with characters, like he’s really on his stuff. 

What was the audition process like for this movie?

Vadhir: It was basically the same way I’ve been doing it for a while and then also the work that you’ve done sometimes gets people’s attention. So, I guess they’ve seen something that I did before and they started kind of asking about me. And once they liked me, I did a self tape for them to see what I would do with the character which they also liked very much. We started kind of talking about, like, where would I go with the character like, exactly what was gonna happen in the movie and they just brought me on board and that was about it. It was really nice. I had lunch with Jesse before the cast was set just to vibe with each other and he was super cool, he was very excited. And I remember getting out of the lunch and calling my manager and being like, ‘I think he liked me and I think he does want me for it.’ It was kind of speaking like I was already the guy for the role. And yeah, [my manager] called him up and he said that I’m in.

Are you working on anything else right now? What can we get excited for?

Vadhir: Well, I’m a musician. I do music and I’ve been releasing that for quite a while now. It’s mainly in Spanish, but I’ve done a couple in English so, you know, just a little bit for everyone. But I have more stuff to release this year for sure. And I just did a movie with Rob Schneider which is a comedy and it’s very, very fun. It’s called Amor es amor, which is love is love. And it’s such a fun, fun, fun, fun film where you guys are gonna see me with a wig, all blonde and stuff, and it’s just, it’s very ridiculous. And I did a series called “Mariachis” for HBO, which will probably be released this year, so you’ll also see me acting and dressed as a mariachi, singing Mexican mariachi songs. So, that’s gonna be interesting and exciting. So, just a bunch of stuff, a little bit of everything.

If people want to follow you and your music, where can they go?

Vadhir: Yeah, of course. So mostly everywhere, I’m @vadhirderbez, and then on Instagram I’m just @vadhird. Yes, follow me.

Vadhir Derbez as Carlos Garcia in the action film, WHITE ELEPHANT, a RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Film.
White Elephant is now in Theaters and streaming on AMC+