In spite of the differences that make the U.S. and Mexico unique, top Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez wants viewers tuning in to the second season of the Apple TV+ comedy series "Acapulco" to experience how much they have in common.
This is one of the reasons why Derbez is telling the story of a fictional resort using both English and Spanish.
“I was always criticizing movies where I was seeing 007 (referring to the character James Bond) in Brazil and everyone speaks in English,” Derbez, who's also an executive producer of the show, said in an interview with NBC News. “Then he goes to Colombia, and everyone speaks in English. And that’s not the way it is.”
The same goes for many TV shows being filmed in Mexico, Derbez said, which also show characters speaking only in English. He wants “Acapulco” to stand out by depicting the multilingual reality that he sees and lives in both countries.
To maintain a natural balance between English and Spanish, Derbez said the series made a rule for Mexican characters to speak in English when they are at the resort, Las Colinas (The Hills), but then speak in Spanish when they are outside among themselves or at home.
“We wanted to be honest and true to the story, and that’s why we kept the Spanish, at least in the parts where it should be 100% Spanish at home,” he said. “I live in the U.S. I work mostly in English. But when I go back home, I speak in Spanish because my family is from Mexico.”
Derbez grew up in Mexico City, but he said he vacationed every summer in Acapulco. He has fond childhood memories of the resort city that also attracted celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra, as well as thousands of tourists from the U.S. and all over the world.
“Acapulco” uses music to hook viewers in English and Spanish. Derbez pointed out that one of his favorite recurring parts of the series features characters who sing Spanish-language covers of famous American pop songs, or English-language versions of Spanish-language hits.
One example, in episode eight of season two (“Money Changes Everything”), shows an employee from the resort singing “Las Chicas Quieren Jugar,” a Spanish translation of Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 hit “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”
Off camera, Derbez said that he remembers listening to a Spanish-language cover of Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 hit “I Will Survive” (titled “Sobreviviré”), as well as translated songs from the Bee Gees and other English-language groups.
The show focuses on the comedy and charisma that the characters emit in either language, similar to the feel-good energy of “Ted Lasso,” another Apple TV+ show, which has turned the expression “Fútbol is life!” into a catchphrase for soccer and non-soccer fans alike.
While “Acapulco” doesn’t focus on soccer, episode five in season two (“We Don’t Need Another Hero”) does pay homage to Hugo Sánchez, whom Derbez described as “the best Mexican fútbol player of all time.”
“Unfortunately, we’re not doing that well in this World Cup,” he said just before Mexico was eliminated from the competition. “But I think someone like Hugo Sánchez would have made a great difference.”
The second season of “Acapulco” puts its main character, Máximo Gallardo, a 20-something cabana boy played by Enrique Arrizon, at a crossroads, where he has to answer a deep question: What price will you pay to reach your dream?
“He has to decide if he’s going to follow his principles, his morals, or betray everything that he learned in order to become what he always wanted,” Derbez said.
“Acapulco” offers genuine advice at an unexpected moment. “Whatever you do, make sure you can live with it. Because at the end of the day, all you have is yourself,” an exclusive patron tells Gallardo in season two before walking off camera to indulge on ice cream and pork rinds.
Episode nine of season two releases Friday on Apple TV+. The season finale is scheduled for Dec. 16.