Andy Garcia is a man on a mission: despite the obstacles he fought getting his latest
film off the ground, the normally publicity-shy ex-Cuban refugee is determined to do all
he can to tell the world about this low-budget romantic comedy, Just the Ticket, on which
he serves as both star and producer.
"We wanted to totally break apart from the constraints
of more traditional movies."
"I always wanted to do a movie in New York emulating movies like Midnight Cowboy
and some of the Cassavetes movies, where you shoot it in a neo-realistic and a naturalist
style," Garcia explains from Los Angeles. "We wanted to totally break apart from
the constraints of more traditional movies."
The film revolves around Gary Starke (Garcia), who was an orphan living on the streets
at 13 and grew up to preside over a crew of street hustlers as the grand master of ticket
scalpers. Charming, savvy, and honourably crooked, Gary seems beloved by everyone until
Linda (Andie MacDowell), the love of his life, dumps him. Tired of Gary's unreliability
after eight years, Linda takes a scholarship to the Cordon Bleu in Paris to fulfil her
dream of becoming a master chef. Gary, in a tailspin, is determined to win Linda back
against seemingly insurmountable odds.
For the actor, known for more intense work in such films as The Godfather Part III and
When a Man a Loves a Woman, Just the Ticket represents a considerable departure. Garcia
returns to his improvisational and comedic roots, which he honed at the Impro theatre in
Los Angeles 20 years ago. Garcia, who was born in Havana and moved to Miami at a young
age, is one of the few Latino actors who has achieved crossover success in film.
"He endears himself to you."
In Just the Ticket, he plays a charmer, a charming quick-witted hustler, who lives day
to day hoping for a big score selling tickets to anyone for any show in town. "He's
the kind of guy that you kick out and half an hour later he's scratching at the door
again, and you have to let him back in like a lost dog," Garcia explains. "He
endears himself to you."
The film's writer/director, Richard Wenk, met Garcia while playing neighbourhood
basketball games in Los Angeles, where they both live. In trying to raise the finance for
the film, they decided to shoot some footage in Los Angeles to show people what it would
look like. Garcia's involvement was critical for the movie to be made. "All of a
sudden, people started seeing its possibilities." But even with Garcia's involvement,
getting the film financed and more importantly, distributed, was no easy task. Initially
the film was called The Scalper. "We couldn't get anybody interested in the
film," Garcia said. "They would say, 'Who cares about a ticket scalper?' It was
the underbelly of society." Finally, MGM signed on to distribute the film, and in
true Hollywood style, the film's title changed. But at the time, Garcia remained bitter
about the hard time he had to secure distribution. "I go into movies now knowing that
it will be badly distributed..."
Just the Ticket also offers audiences a very un-Hollywood-like view of New York.
"We shot the film like a documentary; we wanted the film to be as real as
possible", Garcia explains. While there was much about the film that appealed to
Garcia, he was particularly intrigued by his character. "His struggle was such a
romantic struggle," he said. "It wasn't about doing something for himself but
doing it for HER. I found that to be very noble." It also afforded Garcia to return
to his comedic roots. "I always wanted to do comedy but [studios] never thought of me
There's no doubt that in an industry, which still frowns on minorities, Garcia is one
of the most successful Hispanic actors in Hollywood. Yet, he makes choices that have
failed to elevate him to the A-list status that most actors in his position crave.
"I'm interested in telling stories which are truthful, not ones that are a career
boost." And he's hardly the stereotypical Hollywood player, avoiding the party scene,
preferring to spend time with his family.
"First and foremost I am a father-who just happens to
"First and foremost I am a father-who just happens to act," he stresses, once
again. He's also a romantic husband, who met his wife of 15 years ago in a Miami bar and
proposed on the spot. But he manages to keep his private life well and truly apart from
prying journalists. "So I don't feel a sense of astronomical fame or anything like
that because I really don't get out much," the quiet, affable Garcia says.
Professionally, Garcia has indicated that he interested in reprising his
Oscar-nominated role of Vincent Mancini in The Godfather, Part III. The actor brushes off
unfair comparisons to parts one and two. "That's like saying, 'Okay, I'm Pablo
Picasso's son... How am I going to respond? The movie paid homage to the first two, and
the fact that all the time people ask me, 'Where's Godfather IV?' means it served its
purpose-to continue to tell the story. I'm ready to go for number four." Maybe
someone will make the affable Garcia an offer he can't refuse.