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Estefan and Garcia play parents 'of the Bride' in new adaptation of classic film

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The new movie "Father Of The Bride" is a fresh take on a familiar story. Dad finds out his daughter is getting married.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FATHER OF THE BRIDE")

ADRIA ARJONA: (As Sofia Herrera) I'm engaged.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) What?

GLORIA ESTEFAN: (As Ingrid Herrera) Oh.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Congratulations.

CHANG: Dad panics.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FATHER OF THE BRIDE")

ANDY GARCIA: (As Billy Herrera) You proposed to him.

ARJONA: (As Sofia Herrera) Mmm hmm.

GARCIA: (As Billy Herrera) He didn't propose to you.

ARJONA: (As Sofia Herrera) Unh-unh.

GARCIA: (As Billy Herrera) Can you do that?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Of course.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Yes.

GARCIA: (As Billy Herrera) I mean, you can do that, but does anyone do that?

CHANG: So much drama ensues. Billy, the father of the bride, is having a lot of trouble handling the news of his daughter's engagement because, well, his own marriage is crumbling. His wife, Ingrid, has declared she wants a divorce.

ESTEFAN: She's been his ally, his partner and keeping the family going, making a beautiful home for them. And she's not feeling appreciated.

CHANG: Ingrid is played by the Gloria Estefan. Meanwhile, Andy Garcia plays Billy and says his character, he took the marriage for granted.

GARCIA: All of a sudden, he's faced with this reality - the love of his life is looking him in the eye and saying, we're done. That's a very painful thing, you know.

CHANG: Billy, a Cuban immigrant, has had a really hard time letting go of his expectations and his traditions. I spoke with both Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan about the ways their personal experiences as Cuban exiles were reflected in their characters.

GARCIA: It's a thing that Gloria and I keep hitting on. We are products and our parents are products of the first generation of exiles that came from Cuba fleeing political exile. So they were coming to this country to be able to have the opportunities and the freedoms that were completely stripped from them in their home country. They worked extremely hard to be able to provide and be successful and set a great example for their kids.

And I think in the back of the mind of the exile, especially the Cuban exile because of what we know, there's always this kind of fear that one day everything is going to be taken away from you again. And there's this kind of constant need to not relax and do more and more. Let's do more. And Gloria's character is going like, we need to relax. I'm over here. Hello. And I think that's where the essence of the movie starts for us, I think.

CHANG: Can I ask, you two have been friends for how long now?

ESTEFAN: Oh, over 30 years.

CHANG: Wow.

ESTEFAN: Yes.

CHANG: So what was it like depicting a married couple after being friends for three decades? Like, were there moments where you could look at each other and be like, oh, he's going to give me that look now? OK.

ESTEFAN: (Laughter).

GARCIA: Yes, I think it was - for me, our relationship had informed the chemistry and our relationship in the movie, obviously. But we share - I probably remind her a lot of Emilio, you know?

ESTEFAN: Yes.

CHANG: Wait, Andy, did you just say that you remind Gloria of Emilio Estefan, her husband?

GARCIA: That's what she said.

CHANG: Is that true, Gloria? Andy conjures up your husband?

ESTEFAN: So many things - so many things about them.

CHANG: Like what? Like what?

ESTEFAN: You know, that work ethic and their love for their family and because of the timing of our exile experience, because we grew up in Miami and we share a common culture that way - and the Cubans in Miami were a very tight-knit group. If a Cuban opened up a store, all the Cubans would go support.

CHANG: I love it.

ESTEFAN: So there's a lot of similarities just in that vein.

CHANG: Well, you know, at the heart of this film, it's this tug of war between old and new, between traditional and modern.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FATHER OF THE BRIDE")

GARCIA: (As Billy Herrera) Two lawyers out of college working for a nonprofit are going to pay for the wedding.

ESTEFAN: (As Ingrid Herrera) Billy.

ARJONA: (As Sofia Herrera) Papi.

GARCIA: (As Billy Herrera) I'm the father of the bride, and I will be paying for the wedding, and I'm going to be walking my daughter down the aisle.

CHANG: And it made me think a lot about your own lives. Like, you mentioned earlier - Andy and Gloria, you both mentioned that you are exiles from Cuba. Both your families brought you to the U.S. when you were pretty young so you could have a different life. And I'm curious, growing up in the U.S., how much did each of you personally feel that same push-pull between an obligation to honor tradition but also a desire to carve paths that were very different from your own parents' paths? What was that tension like for each of you?

GARCIA: That's generational for, I think - you know, in my particular case, I grew up in a family business, and I was being groomed to work it and own it and take it over with my brother and stuff. And when I discovered my love for acting and started studying in college, I decided to leave the family business and come to Los Angeles and look - try to establish a career. My father struggled with that tremendously. He just couldn't understand, how do you even make a living as an actor?

And it keeps repeating itself, you know? My youngest daughter's a model. My two older daughters are actresses. My son is a professional deejay. You know, even though I understand that they're not an extension of me, they're their own people, and they're going to go on their own journey, but I struggle with going, like - thinking in the back of my mind, don't you want to have something to fall back on?

CHANG: (Laughter).

ESTEFAN: Ditto with my mother and everything Andy said about his dad. My mom had a Ph.D. in education from Cuba. I was studying psychology and communications. So when I joined a band for fun, to her it was like, oh, my daughter traipsing around town with a bunch of musicians and, you know, she's going to quit school. She's not going to get educated. How is she going to make a living? For them, it's tough to, you know, just trust.

CHANG: Totally. Well, between the two of you, how many of your own children are married now?

ESTEFAN: Well, my son is married for 12 years.

GARCIA: I have one daughter that's already married and one that's getting married.

CHANG: And Andy, what are you like as a real-life father of the bride?

GARCIA: My daughter, Alessandra, my youngest, is not one of the ones in the marriage world yet. She told me she saw the movie. She goes, dad, you're nothing like that guy.

CHANG: Oh, that's quite a compliment.

GARCIA: Oh, that was her point of view. And I think I'm both. I think I'm everything like him, and I'm also nothing like him.

CHANG: Well, can you relate to the part of Billy's struggle where, you know, he wants to raise daughters who are strong and independent, but...

GARCIA: Yes.

CHANG: ...He's also having trouble letting go? Was that something you could personally relate to?

GARCIA: Well, it's like, we were laughing about that with Gloria because in the movie, they've created these women that are independent, have their own point of view and have had the example of Billy and Ingrid growing up. Billy now has to deal with these girls that he's supported to be that way, and now it's bouncing back into his face, and he doesn't know what to do about it.

CHANG: Absolutely.

ESTEFAN: It's tough for Billy because he's raised these independent women. And as parents, I think the hardest thing is to have your kids - you can't protect them anymore. You have to let them make their own mistakes. And that's the hardest part - letting them make mistakes. And I know as Cuban parents, we were raised where our parents controlled everything. I mean, for Cuban kids of the age that I was - I don't know how it was with you, Andy, but they have a saying in Spanish that children talk when chickens pee. Chickens don't pee. Chickens don't pee. They do everything together. So it's like we had no voice. We had no - you did what your parents said, and that was it. Andy and I bucked tradition and what they expected, and we suffer watching them make mistakes. And that's the only way to learn.

CHANG: I will say Cuban families and Chinese families share a lot (laughter).

GARCIA: You know, it's a universal - the dynamics of this movie that are particular to this Cuban family, Mexican, is really universal.

CHANG: Yes.

GARCIA: People will recognize themselves in it because the old generation gap, you quickly become old-fashioned, you know? The parents become, you know...

ESTEFAN: Oh, yeah.

GARCIA: What do they know, you know? Like, we don't know anything. Like, we weren't that age, and we didn't go through it, and we don't recognize what's going on. You know, we're clueless. And that's where the pain is. We're not clueless, and we worry.

CHANG: It's been so beautiful to talk to both of you. Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan star in the new movie "Father Of The Bride." Thank you both so much for being with us. This was a total pleasure.

GARCIA: Thank you.

ESTEFAN: Thank you so much. And happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there.

CHANG: Yes, happy Father's Day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.