Messing finds her "inner Latina" in holiday film

Mon Dec 8, 2008 6:41pm EST
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By Nichola Groom

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Debra Messing sticks out like a sore thumb in her latest movie, "Nothing Like the Holidays." But that is just fine by her.

In the comedy, which debuts in U.S. theaters on Friday, a Puerto Rican family comes together at Christmas for the first time in three years, and Messing plays a very non-Latina career-driven executive wife of the family's eldest brother, played by John Leguizamo.

"I'd never been an outsider in a film," Messing said. "I very much felt like the white Jewish girl and it was the first time I had ever been the minority on the set."

Messing tried to "access my inner Latina" by recalling her elementary school Spanish during the shoot, she said.

The 40-year-old Messing said the film marks a step forward in Hollywood because it is essentially a mainstream holiday film but one that focuses on a minority, Latino family.

"Nothing Like the Holidays" follows the Rodriguez family during a holiday gathering in Chicago that is prompted by the youngest brother's return from combat overseas.

An ensemble piece, the movie details the trials of each family member's career or personal relationships. Messing's character, Sarah, for instance, struggles with whether to take a new, high-powered job while facing pressure from her husband and mother-in-law to start a family.

"That's not specific to the Puerto Rican culture," Messing said of the themes the movie pursues. "I could see an Italian family on screen, I could see a Jewish family on screen. You could just fill in the blank, because family is family."   Continued...

<p>Debra Messing arrives at the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles September 21, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>