In 2003, 28-year-old Mexican actor Eduardo Verástegui, touted as the “Brad Pitt of Mexico,” was on his way to Hollywood superstardom, before doing an about-face to focus on his faith.
After mainstream success as a musician and actor in his native country, he landed a series of crossover roles in the United States, which included a spot alongside Jennifer Lopez, a modeling gig for Calvin Klein, and even a leading role in the rom-com Chasing Papi.
Things looked promising on the outside.
But as Hollywood began to accept Verástegui, the actor wasn’t sure if he could accept himself as just another big name, self-serving movie star. And so, the “Mexican Brad Pitt” decided to leave Hollywood — conventionally, that is.
In an interview with Guideposts, Verástegui said his epiphany was inspired by conversations he’d had with his English tutor, who had been helping him sharpen up his language skills:
In a very subtle way, she was asking me a lot of questions that were challenging me. ‘Are you a part of the problem or the solution?’ ‘You’re Latino. A lot of people think Latinos are what they see on film and television, how are you changing that?’ ‘Are you using your talents in a selfish way or are you using your talents to create things for your community?’ ‘What do you want to do with your life?’ ‘What’s the purpose of your life?’ Imagine six months of that. Simple conversations in the living room, after English class.
Verástegui rededicated his life to Catholicism, and from there, only made career choices based on his faith.
He became a producer and director, with hopes of creating stories he wanted to share with the world, reports Aleteia. His first project was Bella, an independent film that focused on the dignity of unborn life.
(Released in 2006, Bella has since been credited with saving hundreds of unborn children from abortion.)
In an interview with the Catholic Media Review in 2012, Verástegui said he thinks young people are attracted Hollywood because they believe it will lead them to happiness: “This is the capital of temptation, where they have emptiness. So that’s why I think if you give [kids] true love at home they will know what is the right thing to do with their own dreams.”
You start involving God in their lives since the beginning. ‘What do you think God wants from you?’ ‘Have you ever thought about what is the mission which God has created you for?’ If you keep asking that instead, how different everything would be.
Verástegui’s second film is a WWII era drama titled Little Boy about a seven year old boy who attempts to bring his father home from the front lines of the war, starring Oscar winners Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson and comedian Kevin James.
Its director, hoping to influence the world a little at a time, is now offering World War II veterans free tickets to see Little Boy, Variety reported this week.
“The freedom that Americans enjoy is because of the sacrifices of these valiant men and women,” Verastegui told the site. “In light of that, I would like to give two tickets to World War II veterans to thank them and so they can experience the healing power of Little Boy.”
Thankful for the opportunities he’s been given, both as a practicing Christian and in America, Verastegui views the entertainment industry through a different lens, and hopes to share it with others.
Little Boy will debut in the United States on April 24.