Role: Blessed José Sánchez del Río, 14-year-old martyr
By Julie Rattey
What price would you pay for freedom? In “For Greater Glory” (releasing June 1) which tells the story of the real-life martyrs and heroes of the 1920s Cristero War, which arose in response to government oppression of Catholicism in Mexico, each of the characters must answer this question. This April, actors from the film, along with director Dean Wright, met with media outlets including Catholic Digest to discuss the film and, in many cases, their personal Catholic faith. The questions are from Catholic Digest and other media outlets. Please note that the content contains some spoilers.
Born in Mexico City, Kuri is a newcomer to film. His first movie role was in 2011’s La Leyenda del Tesoro (The Legend of the Treasure).
What did you do to prepare for this role?
I had a biography of José, and it was a really cool book because it told me a lot of José’s story. And also, before each scene, I listened to dramatic music — Coldplay. (Laughter)
When you’re playing a saint, or someone who would become a saint, how important is it to keep his feet on the ground, to play the human being, not the icon?
José’s role is amazing. He really was a 14-year-old — I’m 14 — and he wanted to join the Cristero army, he wanted to fight for God, and for his freedom, so that made me think a lot of stuff, because if he was 14 and he would give his life for Christ, would I have done the same thing in those times? I was thinking of that, so I [talked] with a spiritual guide, with a Father, and I told him about this and he started talking with me about the Bible, and about religion. And I went to missions to help people in need in Mexico, and it was amazing, it was just beautiful. So that got me more close to my religion, and it was really great.
Did the cast and crew get together to go to Mass or Adoration or anything as you were putting together the movie?
Yes, there was Mass every day during the movie in the place where the Cristero camp is. There was a Father there, and they celebrated Mass, the cast (members) who were Catholic.
As you are Catholic yourself, what did it mean to you to play someone who made such a sacrifice for his faith?
Well, it represented a big challenge and a big responsibility, but it was just beautiful, you know, because he is a martyr, and he gave his life for Christ, and he’s Mexican. And I thought, Why do people not know about him, because his life is beautiful? I have him here (removing from beneath his T-shirt a necklace with a picture of José). This is the real José, you see? His story is just amazing. This little chain is from Sahuayo — the place where they killed him. I think the world needs to know about him.
Are you in school?
Yes, I’m in eighth grade in Mexico. It’s a bilingual school.
Are your friends jealous of you for being an actor and being famous now? How has that changed your social life?
Well, there are some guys that reacted different, but almost all of my friends supported me.
How did the girls react?
I made a lot of new friends. (Laughter) But I’m single. (Laughter)
How did you prepare for the really emotional scenes, besides the Coldplay?
I asked for tips from Peter O’Toole. He was really close to me. He referred to me as “my mate.” He gave me some tips from his acting school, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. I want to study there.
As you were working on this movie, did you have any idea that it would be released on the heels of Pope Benedict coming and visiting the shrine of these martyrs?
I had no idea, but I think God acts in mysterious ways. CD