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Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Usher Raymond IV and Ana De Armas gathered in New York City on Monday for the premiere of Hands of Stone, with real-life subjects Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard in tow.
Harvey Weinstein introduced the boxing drama with a one-two punch at Donald Trump. “This movie is written by a Latino, directed by a Latino and starring Latinos. Even Robert De Niro and Usher turned Latino for this,” he told the SVA Theatre crowd. “They’re all gonna be deported if Trump becomes president.”
With Beyonce, Jay Z, Rosie Perez and Priyanka Chopra in attendance, the Weinstein Co. head also made sure to thank the event’s sponsors, including The New York Times: “Thank god — the way they’re burying Trump, I’m going to take 10 subscriptions!” he said to loud applause.
The film follows the rise, fall and rise of Duran, who, Ramirez told The Hollywood Reporter, “is the greatest lightweight in the history of boxing, and the master of screwing with peoples’ minds, and yet he has a heart of gold.”
Even more so, “this is an opportunity to change the Latino stereotype — we live in a world where you can call Latinos drug dealers and rapists and criminals and still have a chance at being president of the United States,” said writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz. “Those are the stereotypes you see in American movies and TV shows, but now you’re going to see a true legend: a Latino boxer who overcame all his demons and became an inspiration for an entire people.”
Making the movie was an immersive experience for the cast, leading a few to purchase homes in Panama. “I love that they didn’t tell us to speak in Spanish less,” De Armas explained. “We wanted to honor the story, and shoot in Panama to feel the energy and support of the whole country with us. It was beautiful.”
For Raymond, the shoot was an educational one. “Obviously I was happy about the body I was able to form and the different kind of focus I was able to have, but my one takeaway is being able to understand he history between America and Panama. At times, I was a bit shamed by the reality of that unfortunate story,” he told THR. “This idea of who we are as a people can be very convoluted and complicated. But it made for a backdrop for an incredible story.”
Usher, Ana de Armas, Grace Hightower, Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez at the ‘Hands Of Stone’ premiere. Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.
At the premiere, Weinstein also weighed in on Nate Parker, whose film Birth of a Nation has been marred by a rape charge Parker faced in 1999 while a student at Penn State University.
“I know Nate Parker and I’ve always found him to be a wonderful man,” he told CNN. “I don’t know how [Fox Searchlight should] handle it. I just wish everybody the best. Nate Parker, as I know him, is a very good person.”
Weinstein’s comments follow those of Rev. Al Sharpton, who threw his weight behind the embattled writer and director on Monday. Sharpton lashed out at Hollywood’s power brokers and a right-wing media for trying to “discredit” Parker just at the moment when his film is set to debut.
Hands of Stone hits theaters Aug. 26. Watch the trailer below.
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