‘I’ve never done it before’

Aimee Garcia and Freddie Prinze Jr.  star in the Netflix holiday movie Christmas With You.  (Photo: Netflix)

Aimee Garcia and Freddie Prinze Jr. starring in the Netflix holiday movie, Christmas with you. (Photo: Netflix)

Freddie Prince Jr. has been one of Hollywood’s most prominent Latino actors since his 1990s teen movie heyday. But over the course of his quarter-century career, the son of the late comedian and sitcom star, Freddie Prinze, rarely has the chance had to represent his culture on screen.

“I’ve received nothing but love from Latino taxi drivers to entrepreneurs who said they were inspired by seeing a Latino who wasn’t on the run from the police or dealing drugs,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment. “But within the industry I’ve always encountered a lot of resistance from directors who wanted to check my Latino heritage.”

That’s why Prinse considers his new Netflix holiday movie, Christmas with you, like a gift that keeps on giving. The film, directed by Argentine filmmaker Gabriela Tagliavini, stars the She’s it all star as Miguel – a public school music teacher and single father who makes an unexpected Christmastime love affair with a big pop star, Angelina, played by Aimee Garcia. Believe it or not, Prinze says this is the first time he’s been hired specifically to play a Latino character. “I’ve never done it before, unless I wrote the damn thing,” he notes. “So when Gabriela brought this to me, all I wanted was a chance to earn her respect.”

“Any Latino you’ve seen me play was always after the fact,” Prinze continues. (The actor has previously portrayed Latino characters in Peacock’s Punky Brewster revival and about the eighth season of Fox’s hit action series, 24.) “The role would be called ‘Mike Smith’ and they would say, ‘Oh, we hired Freddie so we can show people how diverse we are.’ And all of a sudden he’s called “Miguel Ramirez.” And that doesn’t count man! not count. This was something that was very important to me, and a big reason why I signed on for this movie.”

Watch a scene from Christmas With You below:

Not for nothing, but Christmas with you is also one of the few Christmas movies centered around a Latino family. In recent years, networks and streamers like Hallmark, Hulu, Lifetime, and Netflix have tried to diversify their holiday fare with stories featuring prominent LGBTQ and Black characters, but that change has been slow to spread to other groups. “Aimee told me she can’t think of any other American Christmas movie with a Latino family,” says Prinze. “I was like, ‘I’m sure there must have been.’ But I can’t think of any! That’s what makes this movie so cool.”

“I’ve heard from white people before that they don’t like enforced diversity,” he adds. “And I get that, I really do. Creatively, you should never feel like you’re being forced into anything and that there’s a lot of things written on the agenda. But this movie is just about a family celebrating Christmas. It’s about a father who lost his wife and his daughter her mother and he’s trying to play both roles I know a lot of people regardless of race who grew up with a single parent I happen to be one of them So there’s a human element to it the story everyone can relate to. The only thing that makes us different is the food we eat, the way we dance and the music we like. Once you got tacos, you’re in, man. And if you hate tacos, that’s fine too. I hate mayonnaise!”

Aimee Garcia as Angelina and Freddie Prinze Jr as Miguel in Christmas With You.  (Photo: Jessica Kourkounis/Netflix)

Garcia as Angelina and Prinze as Miguel Christmas with you. (Photo: Jessica Kourkounis/Netflix)

Food was a big part of Prinze’s childhood Christmas parties in New Mexico, where he lived with his mother after his father’s death just before his first birthday. “Everything is different there,” he recalls. “We were the ones who started fixtures on Halloween instead of lights, and we sometimes did them at Christmas too. You should find ways to keep them from melting in the snow! The Native American culture and the Mexican culture really combined beautifully in that state and dictated the kind of food we would eat and the kind of food we would drink. We would have sopaipillas with honey and Indian fried bread. All of those would be a staple at any Christmas dinner, and I brought them with me to California when I moved here.

Prinze continues to serve those New Mexico staples at the holiday dinners he hosts with his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and their two children. “I couldn’t find good Mexican food in Southern California before the food truck revolution, so I literally shipped green chile and red chile from New Mexico,” he says with a laugh. “I served chicken stew with green chilli at Christmas, and everyone loves it. I’ve been lucky enough to see cultures embrace each other, and it’s usually food that provides common ground. That’s how I know how to cook. “

While Prinze could be part of another Latino-centric Christmas movie in a heartbeat, don’t expect him to return to George Lucas’s far, faraway galaxy for any future holiday specials. The real life Star Wars fan-voiced Jedi survivor Kanan Jarrus in four seasons of the fan-favorite cartoon series, Star Wars Rebelswhich ended its run in 2018. Since then the rebels ship made a famous cameo (along with the voice of Prinze) in the Skywalker Saga blockbuster, The Rise of Skywalker, and other animated characters – including Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan – have jumped into the live action realm. But Prinze insists that Kanan will not join them.

“I’m done performing Star Warshe says, adding that if Kanan shows up The Mandalorian or any other Disney+ series, he won’t be the one brandishing the Jedi’s blue lightsaber. “I felt like I did a great job with that character, who I love. He had a nice story but it ended and although my bond with him isn’t gone, I can’t give him anything more. It would just be forced, and I don’t like that I didn’t even want to leave a comment The Rise of Skywalkerbut [Rebels co-creator] Dave Filoni convinced me! I said no the first time they asked, and he had to call. He believed in me for that part rebels when Disney didn’t, and I’m always with him for that.”

Christmas with you currently streaming on Netflix

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