In one of the most unexpected turns this year, Flamin' Hot is quite good! I consider it the snack food industry's answer to Air — it's another story about a working man betting on himself — and it's one of the most heartwarming and inspirational films this year. The leading man, Jesse Garcia, is wonderful in the leading role and carries the emotional weight of the film.

ClutchPoints spoke with the film's star Jesse Garcia at the junket. We covered all bases including jumping from studio action flicks to smaller independent ones, his working relationship with Eva Longoria — who directed Flamin' Hot — and a monologue that got cut from the film. He also spoke about creating the film's iconic poster and about the upcoming Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day reboot for Disney+.

Jesse Garcia-Flamin' Hot interview

Jesse Garcia, Flamin' Hot
A still from Flamin' Hot courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

ClutchPoints: I noticed you've done a lot of different movies — you've done big action movies like Ambulance, and you were in The Mother this year — and I was wondering if you could kind of compare that experience of doing a film like that and then something a little bit smaller, like Flamin' Hot.

Jesse Garcia: Flamin' Hot wasn't an action movie? [smiles]

They're just two different animals, you know? [With] action movies, [they're] normally not dialogue-heavy, you know what I mean? It's like [a] few lines here and there to get some story plots and information going and then running and jumping and fighting [and] crashing cars and stuff, and then something like Flamin' Hot where there's a lot of talking, a lot of relationships, and I think Flamin' Hot's one of those special movies where it's a universal story that everyone can relate to that kind of touches everyone on a deep, emotional level.

CP: Is that [the universal appeal of the story] what drew you to the project? I was curious if it was that, or if maybe you were promised a lot of junk food for life or something.

JG: I was promised junk food — ice cream, Flamin' Hot donuts, and like Flamin' Hot sugar cookies… haven't seen any! [smiles]

His [Richard Montañez's] story is very inspirational. When I first heard about his story, it was years ago, I said, “That's gonna make a good movie someday — someone's gotta do a movie about that,” and you know, a couple [of] years later, I got the part. I'm very lucky to get the part.

I think it's also one of those movies where kind of like you get everything out of a movie that you want, right? You laugh, you cry, you're angry — you feel all the things [and] you've had all the feels by the time you left the movie. And it's a fun ride.

CP: I read that you've known Eva Longoria for years before this movie, and I was curious what it was like kind of seeing her steer the ship as a director — a first-time feature-length director at that — but also what it's like working with somebody that you've known.

JG: Eva [and] I have known of each other for many, many years and we didn't really get to know each other until this movie. And it's almost like we knew each other already. There was an immense amount of trust between the two of us the second it was go-time. I got the movie and we started talking like we were here [signified on even levels with his hands]. We were eye-to-eye and figuring things out and she was asking me my opinion on things, which I never really get [asked about], and I was able to give her feedback and things that I thought that I was questioning or I loved. So it was a very collaborative, like [a] very, very easy relationship.

I swear we've known each other in our past lives.

Eva Longoria, Flamin' Hot
A behind-the-scenes still from Flamin' Hot courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

CP: And you just mentioned that she'd ask for your feedback on things — is there anything in the finished film that you had your direct influence on it?

JG: I mean, there's a lot of improvisations or random things. When you're directing something or you're producing something, or even when you're acting in something, you see other things that could be happening in the scene to make them a little bit more interesting or add a layer or [that] something's not working. And, you know, she's directing, so she's working on a bunch of different things at the same time. So we were able to add some really kind of fun moments and it is like, whether it was my idea or Annie's [Gonzalez] or Devon's [Franklin], it was a collaborative effort. So there [are] so many things.

CP: Flamin' Hot is a film all about betting on yourself and I was just curious if there was an instance that you can think of offhand that you had to do that in your own career, kind of like Richard does in the film?

JG: Every day, man [smiles].

Like, if I'm not gonna bet on myself, who's gonna do it? You know what I mean? There's always somebody next to me, behind me, in front of me that wants to do the same thing I do. You know, I gotta wanna do it more than anybody.

I've been working [for] 23 years to get to different moments in my career, and this is where I am right now. I'm grateful to be here, but I also know that this has been in the works for a long time.

CP: This is kind of a fun question about the movie, but you guys recreate a lot of the old chip bags with the old logos and stuff, and I was curious if there were actual chips in there and if you ate any. 

JG: Well, they were real chips. Like they were normal, contemporary, real chips, but the bags were remade, so they had our department make like, I wanna say 20,000 or 40,000 different bags from like different stages of these bags. So they spent a grip on these bags, but they got the chips, they got the Cheetos, they got the Frito [Lays] ones — so they were very cool.

For me, it's nostalgic. You look like you're a lot younger than me, but it was nostalgic to look at the old, kind of clear, font. It was wild.

Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Hunter Jones, Flamin' Hot
A still from Flamin' Hot courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

CP: Were there any particular scenes in this film that were challenging to shoot? 

JG: I mean, they all had their challenges. I probably had three or four really big monologue-y scenes that I knew if I got any one of 'em wrong, that it would really make the movie a stinker. So there was just a lot of pressure, there was a lot of dialogue, and I was in 95% of the scenes. They're all consistently big puzzle pieces to figure out, you know?

One of the ones that I had a little bit of trouble [with] never made the movie. I felt like I figured it out, but it just didn't fit in the movie.

Flamin' Hot will premiere on Disney+ and Hulu on June 9.