Kuno Becker playing General Ignacio Zaragoza in “Cinco de Mayo: La Batalla” (Photo/ © Copyright Pantelion Films 2013/Sandra Mayerstein)

A film explains what really happened on Cinco de Mayo

Before you grab that margarita or a beer to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this Sunday, Dallas-based Mexican actor Kuno Becker wants everyone to watch the film “Cinco de Mayo: La Batalla” and get educated first. Although an important day in Mexican history, Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in Mexico, nor is it celebrated as lavishly or as widely as in the U.S.

“We do celebrate there, but not as big as here,” says Becker, who was born and raised in Mexico City. “It’s important to learn the culture of our neighbors. It’s not Mexican Independence Day.”

He says hopefully this film, which premiered last month at the Miami International Film Festival, and this Friday in Los Angeles theaters, will shed some light on what really happened on May 5, 1862.

“It was a project that I wanted to be a part of,” says the 35-year-old, who plays the lead role, General Ignacio Zaragoza, in the film directed by Mexican director Rafa Lara. “I’m grateful for the opportunity I was given. It’s a great project with great actors that I admire. And he [Zaragoza], was someone I really looked up to…”

General Ignacio Zaragoza led the poorly-armed and outnumbered Mexican army and defended the city of Puebla, when the French army — approximately 8,000 men — attacked the city during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). Cinco de Mayo, or May 5, commemorates the Mexican army’s miraculous victory over France at the Battle of Puebla.

Becker, who just wrapped up a season playing Drew Ramos in TNT’s television series “Dallas,” says he studied the biography of Zaragosa to prepare for his role in “Cinco de Mayo.”

“He is an icon in Mexico like other heroes of our history, like Hidalgo, but the most important to me was to define the essence of the character,” he says. “I wanted to play someone with doubts and insecurities…that was my own personal contribution. It was in the script, but I made it more present in many moments where I felt it was important.”

Becker says not only did he enjoy his role, but filming in Puebla as well — likening it to playing a game of chess.

“It was fun to make, because I grew up riding horses,” says the actor who also played the violin until age 17. “It had all the elements of what I love to do.”

Besides getting ready for the next season of “Dallas” starting in September, Becker also recently directed “5 Bravo,” which was shot in Mexico City (in English), and is expected to be released in the U.S. this year.

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