Cheech Marin spoke with The A.V. Club. about his eclectic career, along the way recalling friend Peter Sellers's potent Heathrow welcome gifts, and explaining why Body of Lies was too white for its own good.
AVC: I understand that you were friends with Peter Sellers.
CM: Peter was a good buddy of ours, we knew him from the very beginning of our career...When we came over to England, he met us at the airport and introduced us to the press and went to all our shows...It was very cool to have Peter Sellers meet you at the airport with a bar of hash that looked like a Hershey bar, you know. [Giggles.]
AVC: There was a little controversy [over The Lion King], because people said it was racist that the hyenas were voiced by a Chicano and an African-American actor.
CM: Fuck ’em. [Laughs.] Fuck those morons. It was two voices. We just did two voices and tried to make funny characters out of those hyenas. That’s all that was involved.
AVC: There has been some talk in the media about how the popularity of escapist movies like Beverly Hills Chihuahua might be linked to the scary economy and the rocky stock market.
CM: Yeah, I think you can directly link chihuahuas to Dow Jones. No, it’s a fun movie, and parents think, “I’m gonna go watch a movie and take my kids. I hear this is something really good, and everybody I like is in it, and it’s fun.” What I think it proves, since it came out the same week as Body Of Lies—the big Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe movie—that people don’t want to see white guys in movies anymore. There’s just no audience there.
Marin could well be onto something, as recent contributions to Forgettable White Guy Cinema—releases like Yes Man, Australia, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and even Seven Pounds (it's white inside)—have been faltering at the box office, while more exotic films like Slumdog Millionaire, Kung Fu Panda, and of course Beverly Hills Chihuahua have been triumphing, feeding audiences' insatiable appetite for their sensitive and realistic ethnic portrayals.