Enrique Iglesias: His Father's Son

Enrique Iglesias admits he loves the all-powerful rush of live performance. The deliberately small part he took for his film debut, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, though, strikes fear in him.


One of the latest to attempt the crossover is Enrique Iglesias, the Spanish rocker with the sensual voice. His self-titled debut album sold some 6 million copies and five singles from it landed at number one. The follow-ups, which include 1997's Vivir and last year's Escape, sold into the multimillions, and he's won a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Performance. With this kind of audience approval, a pop star can approach the big screen with at least some degree of confidence, right? Not exactly.

"It's hard to tell, but I probably suck in this movie," says Iglesias, referring to Once Upon a Time in Mexico, director Robert Rodriguez's follow-up to 1992's El Mariachi and 1995's Desperado. The vulnerable Iglesias speaking here is a far cry from the concert persona who crotch-grabs. But whether or not he sucks in his new film, he can console himself that at the very least he's part of a great cast, which includes Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe and Salma Hayek. Working with such an impressive cast did bring uncertainties, though. "When you're a new guy from the music world going to the movie world," says Iglesias, "it's kind of like, 'Oh yeah, you think this is like music, huh?' I'm not saying it was negative, but you feel it."

Should Iglesias succeed on-screen, it will be another step away from the shadow of his father, the megaselling singer/Casanova Julio Iglesias. "I think my father is cool as shit," Enrique declares. "But when I was 19, I got in a fight with him, left the house and we didn't speak for years. I kind of did that on purpose because I didn't want to explain anything to him about what I was doing, which was trying to make music. We don't see each other a lot, but every time I see him, there is such a great connection. I think he had to make a choice of being either a family man or a singer. In a way, I think he chose being a singer. I think the same thing has happened to me."

That last comment would explain, perhaps, why Iglesias is not currently involved in a serious relationship, despite rumors of past female companions like Anna Kournikova. He credits his father with providing other relevant experience as well. "Growing up with my father, I learned a lot. Not that my house was like the Playboy mansion, but you see girls and you learn to analyze. I could tell who loved him by the way they treated me. I still might get stuck to one of those girls who's just with me for my money, but I think I'm good at analyzing that kind of shit. I guess I'll have to find someone who is richer and more famous than me."

A person like that will get more difficult to find if Iglesias expands from music to film. But when the subject of his movie comes up again, he re-hedges his bets. "I don't know if I'm a good or bad actor, I just know that I like it," he says. "When I see the movie I'll probably die of embarrassment. In life, I'm not like I am onstage, which is someone who is not embarrassed by anything. When I perform, I feel like a superhero. It's better than sex."

Still, working in the music industry isn't always a breeze. "It's superficial. At the end of the day, if you don't have a hit song, you're history. I'm not here because I'm a great singer. For me, it's about being convincing. People say Madonna isn't pretty, can't dance, can't sing. If that's the truth, more power to her because that makes her more brilliant, more intelligent."

Iglesias may not yet be sure how convincing he is on the big screen, but if movies worked out, would he ever decide to spend all his time in front of the camera? "I know my father is going to die singing," he says. "And you know what? Probably so will I."