Edward James Olmo in character as drug lord Papi Greco in “2 Guns.” (Photo/Universal)

Edward James Olmos: “2 Guns” drug lord performance “breaks down caricatures”

Edward James Olmos may play a drug lord in the action film “2 Guns” but the social activist said that his decision to do so was motivated by his life-long dedication to the positive portrayal of Latinos in film.

“Action films offer audiences a safe window into a world that they only imagine,” says Olmos about his role as Papi Dreco. “Players in the drug world are not as cookie cutter and predictable as you might imagine. The movie is entertaining and fun, but what I do is really try to break down caricatures.”

In “2 Guns” – which hits theaters nationwide this Friday – Olmos’ character is a Mexican drug kingpin. He is an underworld legend who plays a crucial role in the fictional story regarding two undercover federal agents whose attempts to infiltrate a notorious drug cartel go comically awry. Actors Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg play DEA agents Bobby Trench and Naval officer Stigman, respectively, and in the company of such Hollywood heavyweights, Olmos said he saw an opportunity to make the film “really great.”

“My character is interesting because he carves out a wealthy niche in this world and fights to the death to protect his family and empire,” says Olmos of the film based on the comic book series “2 Guns.” “You feel this guy is real, and that’s not something that’s seen often in Hollywood.”

Edward James Olmos (l) stars alongside Denzel Washington (r) in the film "2 Guns."

Edward James Olmos (l) stars alongside Denzel Washington (r) in the film “2 Guns.” (Photo/Courtesy Universal Pictures)

With scenes set on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border, “2 Guns” is a big budget summer action flick; the type of mainstream film Olmos hasn’t made since 2011’s “The Green Hornet.” But Olmos says his approach to filmmaking remains the same across both independent and major motion pictures, explaining that storytelling remains one of his utmost motivations for remaining in the industry after nearly 40 years.

“I think stories are really important,” says the Academy Award-nominated actor, who will next be seen in upcoming indie border drama “Go For Sisters.” “It’s always about good story telling.”

But Olmos has another reason to continue working. He calls himself mentor to many up-and-coming Latino actors in Hollywood, and it’s a role he says he considers one of his most significant to date.

“In terms of presence, it’s important for me to continue working. The door for Latinos will close even tighter if some of the stable forces like me retire,” says Olmos, who says his “Filly Brown” co-star Gina Rodriguez has the longevity and talent to emulate the longevity of his career. “The new people coming up won’t have any type of wisdom, force or power to help them move forward if the older [Latino] actors leave this medium.”

That being said, Olmos is preparing for one of the biggest moves in his career to date. He’s currently pitching comedy series “Three Generations” to television networks. The project would star Olmos in what he calls a “Latino Archie Bunker-type role” alongside comedian Paul Rodriguez and would be the type of laugh-out-loud series that hasn’t been on air since George Lopez’s self-titled sitcom was canceled in 2007.

“There’s a lot of passion around this project,” shares Olmos. “It’s a lot of fun but very controversial.”

And while there’s no prospective air date or network for the show just yet, Olmos promises that audiences will find it as compelling as he has.

“There’s nothing like it out there,” says Olmos.

Watch the trailer for “2 Guns” below.

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