Alfonso Arau

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Alfonso Arau
Alfonso Arau.jpg
Arau in 2016
Alfonso Arau Incháustegui

(1932-01-11) 11 January 1932 (age 91)
Mexico City, Mexico
Occupation(s)Actor, producer, director, writer
Years active1954–present
(m. 1975; div. 1995)
Children3, including Fernando and Sergio Arau

Alfonso Arau Incháustegui (born 11 January 1932) is a Mexican filmmaker, actor, and singer. He worked as an actor and director in both Mexican and Hollywood productions for over 40 years, before his international breakthrough with the 1992 film Like Water for Chocolate, based on his wife Laura Esquivel's novel of the same name. His other films include A Walk in the Clouds (1995), Picking Up the Pieces (2000), The Magnificent Ambersons (2002), and Zapata: El sueño del héroe (2004). He is a five-time Ariel Award winner, including Best Director for Like Water for Chocolate, and a BAFTA nominee.

Life and career[edit]

The son of a physician, Arau was born in Mexico City.[1] He directed the films Zapata: The Dream of a Hero, Like Water for Chocolate (adapted from the novel written by his ex-wife Laura Esquivel), A Walk in the Clouds with Keanu Reeves and Anthony Quinn, and the Hallmark Hall of Fame production A Painted House (adapted from the John Grisham novel of the same name). Among a plethora of roles in his career, Arau played "Captain Herrera", a lieutenant of Federal general "Mapache", in Sam Peckinpah's 1969 western The Wild Bunch, chief bandit "El Guapo" in Three Amigos (USA, 1986), a comedy with Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Chevy Chase, shady businessman Manuel in the comedy Used Cars (USA, 1980), and the smuggler "Juan" in Romancing the Stone (USA, 1984) starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Arau appeared in the 1972 Mexican film El rincón de las vírgenes ("The Virgins' Corner"), where he played the assistant of a fake mystical doctor traveling from town to town, who reminisce about their travels, when a group of women decide to propose the doctor for sainthood. The movie was set in 1920s rural Mexico.

Arau has made many appearances as a character actor in American and TV series and plays. In the 1972 episode of Gunsmoke titled "Hidalgo", Arau portrayed the bandit "Mando" who shoots and wounds marshal Matt Dillon.[2]

In 1973, Arau acted in and directed Calzónzin Inspector ("Cazonci" or "Caltzontzin" was the term used in the Purépecha culture, to name their emperors[citation needed]), a movie based on a character from the Mexican comic Los Supermachos of Rius, a cartoonist, who co-wrote the screenplay.[3] The movie, which is influenced by Nikolai Gogol's The Government Inspector, centers around two Mexicans who are mistaken for government inspectors from Mexico City by the corrupt mayor of a small town. It is a humorous political critique, aimed squarely at the then ruling party Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and its paramilitary caciques, at a time when freedom of speech in politics was highly restricted. There are at least two versions of the movie, with one having some scenes deleted by State censors, the most notable of which depicts the killing of a renegade farmer by a police officer, who shoots the farmer in the back.

In December 2004, the Santa Fe Film Festival honored Alfonso Arau for his work in cinema.[4]

In 2010 he directed the Italian-language film, The Trick in the Sheet.

In January 2011, he starred in Chad, Matt & Rob's "The Treasure Hunt: An Interactive Adventure."

In February 2017, it was alleged by Debra Messing that Arau belittled her for her appearance and body in her first film "A Walk in the Clouds".[5] Arau later denied the allegation.[6]



  1. ^ Alfonso Arau. Film Reference, Biography, 2007. Last accessed: April 11, 2008.
  2. ^ "Hidalgo". 10 January 1972 – via IMDb.
  3. ^ Calzónzin Inspector at
  4. ^ New Mexico Business Weekly 10 Dec. 2004
  5. ^ "Debra Messing Recalls 'Walk in the Clouds' Director Pressuring Her to Do Naked Sex Scene, Mocking Her Nose". The Hollywood Reporter. 9 February 2017.
  6. ^ Deerwester, Jayme. "Director denies demeaning 'Will & Grace' star Debra Messing on set of her first film". USA TODAY.
  7. ^ "The Trick in the Sheet - Alfonso Arau - Italy | Euro Cinema | English - Eurochannel". Eurochannel: The European TV channel - European movies & TV series.
  8. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (6 June 2017). "Disney-Pixar Introduces the 'Coco' Character Family". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 8 June 2017.

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