Austin native Diego Miró has made it to the big screen playing the complex character Florence in the film Bless Me, Ultima. He will also be seen in the upcoming film Now You See Me, directed by Louis Leterrier. Miró is an interesting character himself, possessing qualities that surpass other 13-year-olds. He is bilingual, a “Star Rank” Boy Scout, and loves traveling to exotic places such as Madrid, Puerto Rico, India and Thailand (to name a few).
Based on Rudolfo Anaya’s classic novel of the same name, Bless Me, Ultima is a story about a young boy, Antonio, who is seeking self-discovery through faith with the help of a spiritual healer named Ultima. Miró’s character, Florence, in the film is vital for Antonio’s quest to understanding what differentiates good from evil. For a young boy, Florence has encountered several unfortunate experiences that make him question the Catholic religion. He doesn’t believe in God but continues to go to Catechism to be a part of his friend circle. Through Florence’s misfortunes, Antonio questions why good things happen to bad people and why bad things happen to good people.
We recently spoke with Miró about his role in the anticipated film, what it was like working on the film and being a young actor.
Bless Me, Ultima official trailer
When did you start acting?
Miró: Probably around two years ago. I never really considered it til then. I’ve always like liked performing and stuff, but I really like took it seriously two years ago.
How did you find out about the movie Bless Me, Ultima?
Miró: Well it was pretty much one of my first auditions and I got a local agent here in Austin and she got me that audition.
How did that feel when you got notified you got the part?
Miró: I really hadn’t been acting for that long so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I got a call to go to L.A., and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be Antonio or Florence yet and they told me on the spot when I was with Carl Franklin.
What was it like working with director Carl Franklin?
Miró: He is such an amazing guy. He’s always very loving and very patient too. He’s a really talented man. It was an honor working with him.
So, can you tell me about your character Florence?
Miró: He was a really interesting character to play because he wasn’t what you get in normal movies when you see a 12-year-old. He was an orphan and he was pretty much abandoned his whole life, but he was still really good and very innocent and he is kind of the character that makes Antonio sort of question the Catholic religion. He’s a pretty important character for Antonio.
How do you think your character helped Antonio’s character with his question of faith in the film?
Miró: The whole movie is how Antonio is growing up and how he’s trying different things. So even if Florence had been living that life his whole life I think it made Antonio realize that the world isn’t just a big happy place. There are more unfortunate people. And that kind of made Antonio think a little bit more.
What was it like play such a complex character?
Miró: I kind of think about it and put myself in his shoes. I mean how would you feel if like both of your parents were gone and there was no orphanage to go to and you were pretty much living on your own? That kind of helped.
So, is that how you were able to tap into your character?
Miró: Yes, and also that they dyed my hair blonde for the role. So I automatically felt like Florence.
What inspiration or methods did you use to relate to your character?
Miró: I just thought of all the hard times in my life. Florence is pretty much living a life that was all hard times. He never really had anything good going on and he was picked on a lot for not being Catholic and stuff. So I just thought of how bad he would feel but either way Florence is a very brave and pretty strong character. What Carl (Franklin) told me, which was one of the best advice that he could give me was “when your telling the story of Florence, like how bad his life is, don’t be sorry for yourself. Let the audience be sorry for you. And that was probably one of the best advice Carl gave me. That was very important for me to do [for] the role of Florence.
What type of research did you do for the role? Did you read the book “Bless Me, Ultima?”
Miró: Not really, I kind of looked back to the time era where the movie took place and just kind of saw the kids and what they looked like. This was in the audition, so I could kind of imagine what it would be like living where he was. And the set made it all realistic so that helped too. My mom and my grandma did. I unfortunately didn’t have time to. I read the script but I heard that it’s really good Rudolfo Anaya did a great job with it and I think I’m going to have to read it in high school as one of the things that are the assigned books. I’m looking forward to reading it though.
So, What was your experience like working with the cast?
Miró: It was awesome really. There were so many kids in the movie that we’d always be having fun. Antonio [Luke Ganalon] I’m really close to him. Every time I go to L.A. I hang out with him. We’ve all become very good friends. Not only the kids in the cast but also the adults. A lot of the actors. Like we’d go and sight see. I think we became pretty close as a cast.
Can we expect to see you in any other films? What other projects are you working on?
Miró: I just recently did a small part in Now You See Me. It’s coming out this summer. It’s with Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, Mark Ruffalo, and Jesse Eisenberg. I can’t wait to show it to all my friends.
How do you do it? What is it like managing your time with acting, school, and being a 13 year-old?
Miró: School is always a priority. Even though I’m doing acting as a hobby, which not a lot of kids do. Although, I’m taking this pretty seriously, school is always my priority. If I’m not getting all A’s I can’t do acting or I’ll lose my privilege of being able to do acting. I’m doing acting along with sports and all advanced classes. So far it’s been going pretty good.
So, I know that you’re from Austin. What is your favorite thing to do?
Miró: BBQ. I like to take advantage of that and the live music too. I mean they don’t call it the “Live Music Capital” for nothing. We also go to Town Lake a lot and run. I go camping a lot. I’m a Boy Scout.