Acapulco, Mexico, was once the playground of the world’s elite. At the height of its fame, this tropical resort attracted film legends such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles and Errol Flynn. It also drew John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy on their honeymoon in 1953.
Now the Mexican actors Eugenio Derbez and Enrique Arrizon want to bring the stories of this glamorous place closer to a new generation of viewers The cross-border, bilingual comedy series from Apple TV + which premieres on Friday.
“All the Hollywood celebrities, the kings from around the world, were always there because the parties were really, really, really good,” Derbez, also executive producer of the show, told NBC News in a video interview.
“Acapulco” tells the coming-of-age story of Máximo Gallardo (played by Arrizon) in Spanish and English. Gallardo is an ambitious cabana boy in his twenties at Acapulco’s most popular hotel resort in 1984.
But viewers will first encounter a much older and wealthier Gallardo (played by Derbez) in what is now Malibu, California. This dishwasher billionaire tells his nephew Hugo (played by Raphael Alejandro) his life-changing story that begins with a dream at the Las Colinas resort (Spanish for “The Hills”).
Off-screen, both Arrizon and Derbez, who grew up in Acapulco, described tropical vacations as a “favorite place” that matched the zeitgeist or the essence of what was going on culturally and socially in Mexico and the world since the late 1940s to 1980s Years.
The Apple TV + series pays homage to the diverse cultural influences that have made Acapulco a global resort. During a funny encounter in the first episode, a young Gallardo says he learned English from “Grease” with Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones and Danny Zuko.
But the series also takes a deeper look at how Acapulco stars have changed the perspectives of ordinary Mexicans and Americans.
“On the other hand, you have the employees’ vision of what happened,” said Arrizon. “Máximo is in his first job and realizes that the whole world is different from what his mother has told him since he was a child.”
That complexity is also part of the allure that makes the Mexican resort interesting on and off the screen.
“Acapulco has many, many layers,” said Derbez. “And I think you will get engaged when you hear all these stories that Máximo is going to tell you.”
While Acapulco was made famous by Hollywood legends and millionaires in the 1940s and 1950s, the Mexican resort also attracted thousands of tourists from around the world.
“Of course, you mostly meet Americans on the beaches, from Alaska to Maine, from Texas to Florida. But there are also Germans, Italians, Dutch from the East Indies, South Americans, French, English, Swedes and South Africans, ”reported the New York Times on February 4, 1940.
The 1948 newspaper said the daily rate for two guests during the peak winter months between November and June for “luxury accommodations” was $ 21, while a bungalow room could cost up to $ 12.
For reference, in 1950 the Census Bureau estimated that the Median income for U.S. families in 1948 was $ 3,200. Still, Acapulco hotel prices were within reach for many tourists. Another article from the New York Times in 1950 said Mexico attracted around 500,000 visitors, an all-time tourist record.
This Mexican destination became even more culturally accessible in the 1960s when Elvis Presley introduced the legendary resort in his 1963 film “Fun in Acapulco”. Even the Flintstones rammed it in 1964 while on vacation in “Rockapulco”.
Both actors affectionately pointed out that famous Mexicans like Mexican comedian legend Cantinflas and pop culture icon Luis Miguel mingled with international celebrities in Acapulco.
Derbez also said his mother, soap opera star Silvia Derbez, got her first uncredited role in the 1948 film “Tarzan and the Mermaids” with another resort celebrity: Hollywood legend Johnny Weissmüller.
On screen, Acapulco is presented as a place where the dreams of both celebrities and the working class who serve them could come true.
However, the first episode of the series also makes it clear that Gallardo and other characters must ask themselves one ultimate question: what price are you willing to pay for your dreams?
This existential question preoccupies both Mexican actors in real life as they ponder the choices they made in realizing their Hollywood dreams.
“I’ve sacrificed a lot for my career,” said Arrizon in a video interview. “I almost wouldn’t go to my sister’s wedding. Imagine this because I made a movie. Such things happen when you achieve your goals, and the more you achieve, the more problems you have. “
Similarly, Derbez said he almost gave up on his acting dream because of the price he paid with his family.
“There was a point in 2011 where I said, ‘I’m leaving the American Dream’ because I make sacrifices every weekend, and instead of being with my family and children, I’m coming here in the US to try a career do it and nothing happens, ”he said. “But then I think the universe rewarded me and I made a movie that changed my life again.”