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Make Her Day: Wanda Dejesus Pins Hopes On Eastwood Movie
By Roger Moore
August 10, 2002
Clint Eastwood is 72, a little slower of step and hoarser of voice than he was in his prime. But don't go writing the old guy off just yet, says the leading lady of his latest film, Blood Work.
"I am very happy to report that Clint's still got it," laughs Wanda DeJesus, the TV and film veteran who plays Graciela Rivers in the film. "He's totally hot, still. No problems doing love scenes with that man, and I mean, at all!"
The lady knows something about hunks. DeJesus, 44, has been Jimmy Smits one-and-only since the mid-1980s.
"Clint has been an icon," she says. "He's always played characters that seemed removed, from another sort of world. This character is his most human, I think."
In Blood Work, Eastwood stars as a retired FBI profiler who has had a heart transplant. DeJesus plays the sister of the woman whose heart the ex-agent now has. She wants him to find out who killed that sister.
"She is strengthened by adversity," DeJesus says. "Graciela is one of those characters who illustrates how loss transforms people. Graciela has lost a loved one. And she has a need to know who killed her, to get closure. She needs her grief arrested.
"Clint's character, McCaleb, is a guy who can no longer do the job that defined him. That's a loss, too. Both he and Graciela are grieving."
DeJesus is hoping for big things to come her way from the movie. As The New York Post has noted, she's "never had a role this juicy." But DeJesus knows that as tough as Hispanic actors have it in Hollywood, it's even tougher on women who aren't Jennifer Lopez. DeJesus has done lots of TV work -- she met Smits on L.A. Law -- and the occasional film. But the job market has been slow to open to Latin actresses.
"There still is no Latino actor whose presence gets a project green-lit, straight out," she says. "I wake up as Wanda DeJesus. My imagination is larger than my culture. I'm not just American or Puerto Rican or whatever. I've played all sorts of roles. I just laugh when people say, 'Oh, you're a Latina actress.'
"If this nod from Eastwood does me some good, I am as pleased as punch. There's resistance to casting women like me. But my job is to keep my eye on the ball and reflect the life of the character I play. If enough of us do that, the doors will open more."