American Masters: Raúl Juliá, The World's a Stage
Updated: Nov 7, 2021
I have always sung the praises of Raúl Juliá, but this film exponentially multiplied my deep respect and admiration for this man and his craft. When other actors and film industry people talk about Juliá, it is always with such reverence and sometimes sadness. After learning about his life, watching him navigate discrimination, use his platform to lift the voices of others, and just be overall charismatic as hell, I am emotional at what a truly important artist he was and the loss we suffered as an audience.
I am guessing that many of you, like me, have not seen his stage work, which is what his fellow colleagues could not talk about enough. After seeing the footage from his earlier work and interviews, I too want to look for these resources and watch them in their entirety.
We all joke about the over the top character Bison is in the movie STREET FIGHTER. We understand that he is meant to be a larger than life, super charismatic, obnoxiously evil character, and so did Juliá. It's unfortunate that it was his last film, and that it is remembered as a bomb. I will never look at it that way. I love it. What's more is that those who love it with me will agree that Raúl Juliá stole the show and is the reason that movie is as fun as it is. No one else could have brought that character to life in a grander theatrical way. He played it like he was on stage, pun intended. Maybe considered a failure of a film to others, but my lord what an under appreciated performance by Raúl Juliá.
The most enduring theme for me in this presentation of Juliá's life was his humanity, his fiercely persistent commitment to his cultural authenticity and helping open doors for other people of color.
He was an awe inspiring human being who deserves to be remembered for so much more than Gomez Addams.
I say that as someone who vehemently loves his portrayal of Gomez Adams too! I even wrote about it! (Check the St. Elsewhere tab for link to the article.)
If you find yourself with access to this American Masters film on Raúl Juliá, I insist you make time to watch it. I think you will fall in love with this human being all over again as I did.