INTIMATE PORTRAIT: RAUL JULIA

September 13, 2019 at 4:45 am

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, American Masters profiles the life and legacy of the late actor Raúl Juliá. Tonight, his wife joins us with a preview.

Aired on September 12, 2019. 

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>>> THAT WAS A CLIP FROM 1991.
RAUL JULIA IS NOT KNOWN FOR HIS
WORK IN HOLLYWOOD BUT FOR HIS
GROUND BREAKING ROLE IN
SHAKESPEARE PRODUCTIONS FOR THE
PUBLIC STATION.
SADLY JULIAS' CAREER WAS CUT
SHORT AT AGE 54.
13 AMERICAN MASTERS AND PUBLIC
CASTING, JOIN FORCES TO PRESENT
THE FIRST DOCUMENT OF HIS
AMAZING LIFE AND WORK.
RAUL JULIAS, FROM HIS NATIVE
PUERTO RICO TO THE CREATIVE HOT
BID OF NEW YORK CITY IN THE
1960s AND TO PROMINENCE ON
BROADWAY IN HOLLYWOOD.
HERE IS A LOOK.
>> RAUL IS EXTRAORDINARY
MAGNETIC.
HE SPOKEN HIS PROUD PUERTO RICAN
ACCENT.
>> PROUD.
>> MY OWN PUERTO RICAN
BACKGROUND.
>> THE FIRST TIME I SAW
SHAKESPEARE, THE PART WAS
MESMERIZING.
>> HE WAS ON THE POSTER
EVERYWHERE WHEN IT WAS SO
INSPIRING TO SEE IT EVERYWHERE
AND EVERY TRAIN STATION.
>> I HAVE NEVER SEEN AN ACTOR
LIKE RAUL.
>> IT WAS ART FROM THE VIEW.
>> MY DAD FELT THAT HE COULD
CREATE CHANGE IN THE WORLD AND
BE AN ACTIVIST AS AN ACTOR
THROUGH THE ROLE THAT IS HE
PLAYED.
>> IT IS NO LONGER YOU OR I, IT
IS YOU AND I.
>> HE WAS UNDENIABLE.
>> WHEN YOU HAVE THAT KIND OF
TALENT AND DISCIPLINE.
SUCCESS COULD NOT BE AVOIDED.
>> THAT'S THE BEAUTY.
JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE
DOCUMENTARY, THE FILM IN THEATER
AND THE WORLD AND HIS WIFE IS
MARY POLLAWAY.
>> THANK YOU FOR ASKING ME TO BE
HERE.
>> LET'S GO BACK TO THE
BEGINNING, HOW DID YOU COME
TOGETHER?
WAS IT LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?
>> I FELL IN LOVE WITH RAUL IN
INSTANTLY WHEN HE REMOVED HIS
GLASSES AND HE LOOKED AT ME WITH
THOSE BEAUTIFUL BROWN EYES, WHO
YOU, THAT'S SOMETHING.
I DON'T KNOW HOW LONG IT TOOK
HIM AROUND FEELING THE SAME WAY
ABOUT ME.
>> LISTEN, A NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN
THE FILM MAKE THE POINT IN THE
COURSE OF HIS CAREER, RAUL,
BROKE NEW GROUND AS A HISPANIC
ACTOR AND AS AN ACTOR, PERIOD.
I THINK THE FILM SHOWS IT ALL
TRUE.
WHY DID IT TAKE 25 YEARS TO MAKE
A FILM LIKE THIS ABOUT THIS
LARGER THAN LIFE MAN?
>> THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION.
I DON'T KNOW WHY.
I AM THANKFUL THAT IT HAPPENED.
IT HAPPENED BECAUSE THEN JESUS
CAME TO ME 2.5 YEARS AGO AND HE
ASKED ME THE SAME THING.
HOW COME THERE IS NOT A
DOCUMENTARY OF RAUL?
HE'S NOT MY GENERATION BUT I
GREW UP AND I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT
HIM.
I KNOW THERE IS A GREAT OUT
POURING AFFECTION FOR RAUL AND
WE GIVE MANY REWARDS THROUGH THE
PUERTO RICAN FAMILY INSTITUTE.
THIS WAS ALL HAPPENING THE LAST
25 YEARS AND THEN IT CAME TO ME
AND I ASKED ME YES, I THINK THAT
WOULD BE GREAT.
>> SO, IT IS HARD ENOUGH FOR
ACTOR BORN AND BRED AND MAKE IT
IN THIS CRUEL BUSINESS.
HOW MUCH HARDER WAS IT FOR A MAN
WHO'S BORN AND BRED IN PUERTO
RICO CAME TO THE UNITED STATES
AS AN ADULT TO MAKE IT IN THE
BUSINESS.
HOW HARD IN OTHER WORDS WAS IT
FOR RAUL JULIAS?
>> IT WAS CHALLENGING IN THE
BEGINNING.
>> HE WON THE AMATEUR HOUR WHEN
HE WAS STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL.
THERE WAS TALENT THERE.
HE WAS SEEN IN THE PRODUCTION
AND AFTER THE SHOW, HE SAID
RAUL, YOU MUST COME TO NEW YORK.
RAUL WAS THINKING TO GO TO NEW
YORK AND GOING TO EUROPE.
AFTERWARDS, HE CAME TO NEW YORK.
WHAT HAPPENS WAS HE MOTIVATED TO
BE SUCCESSFUL AND HE KNEW WHERE
HE WAS.
HE WAS BORN IN PUERTO RICO.
MY SON MAKES THIS POINT, MY SON
MAKES THIS POINT.
YOU ARE NOT LATINO IN PUERTO
RICO.
YOU ARE YOU IN PUERTO RICO.
IF WHEN YOU COME HERE THEN ALL
OF A SUDDEN, YOU ARE LATINO.
RAUL HAD WONDERFUL PARENTS AND
UPBRINGING HERE SO HE WAS ARMED
WITH A CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE AND
CONFIDENCE.
HE WAS ABLE TO PRESS THROUGH
EVERYTHING TO MAKE IT IN THE
END.
>> I THINK I TOLD YOU THIS WHEN
WE FIRST MET A FEW YEARS AGO
THAT THE FIRST TIME I SAW RAUL
PERFORMED, I WENT WITH MY
BROTHER AFTER I MOVE TO NEW YORK
TO SEE HIM IN SHAKESPEARE.
I CAN CLEARLY UNDERSTAND WHEN
HE SPEAKS SHAKESPEARIAN AND NOT
ONLY THAT, HE DOES IT SO
NATURALLY.
HE WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST OF
THE LATE 20th CENTURY.
WHAT MAKES THIS PUERTO RICAN
ACTOR SUCH A GREAT SHAKESPEARIAN
ACT?
>> HE LOVES ACTING AND HE LOVED
THE WORDS HIMSELF.
THE STORY TELLER OF THE SPANISH
HERITAGE SINCE HIGH SCHOOL.
HE ALWAYS STUDIED THEM AND
ALWAYS APPRECIATED IT AND ALWAYS
WAS SPEAKING THOSE WORDS.
IT DID NOT COME AS A NOVELTY TO
HIM.
>> YOU SAY IN THE FILM IN HIS
LIFE AND WORK, RAUL TRIED TO BE
AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT WAS POSSIBLE.
WHAT DID HE TEACH YOU WHAT WAS
POSSIBLE AND WHAT DOES HE TEACH
WHAT IS POSSIBLE?
>> I THINK RAUL OPERATED THROUGH
LIFE.
HE WAS A BIG FAT YES TO LIFE.
A LOT OF PEOPLE HAD A LOT OF
REQUESTS AND HE DID NOT LIKE TO
SAY NO SO HE WOULD SAY YES.
HE DID A LOT OF THINGS WHICH
GAVE HIM GREAT PLEASURE.
IT WOULD SAY THAT IS ONE THING
THAT INSPIRES ME.
AFTER WHEN HE PASSED AWAY, WHEN
PEOPLE WOULD ASK ME CAN HE DO
THIS OR THAT?
I WOULD TRY TO BE LIKE HIM AND
SAY YES.
>> I HOPE I HAVE DONE THAT AS
MUCH AS I CAN IN HIS NAME.
HE WAS A FULLY SELF EXPRESSED
PERSON AND FULLY SELF-EXPRESSED
AND JOYFUL THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE
WHEN THINGS WERE NOT GOING AS HE
WOULD HAVE LIKED THEM TO GO.
HE STILL HAD THE CAPACITY TO SAY
OKAY, THAT'S NOT GOING SO WELL
BUT ALL THE REST OF MY LIFE, I
HAVE TO LIVE A GREAT JOY IN THE
MOMENT.
LET'S SPEAK OF THE MOMENT.
IT IS A JOYEST OCCASION THAT I
HAD THE CHANCE TO TALK TO YOU.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME
TO TALK ABOUT THIS GREAT MAN.
>> THANK YOU, RAFAEL.
MY PLEASURE.
>> FOR MORE INFORMATION OF
RAUL JULIAS, VISIT YOUR WEBSITE.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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