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AMERICAN MASTERS: Raúl Juliá: The World’s A Stage

Airs Monday, Sept. 30, 2019 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Raúl Juliá in front of his home in New York City.

Credit: Courtesy of Family Collection

Above: Raúl Juliá in front of his home in New York City.

AMERICAN MASTERS and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES join forces to present the first documentary about Raúl Juliá, the versatile Puerto Rican actor whose work on stage and screen took the world by storm.

“Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage” premieres Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

From award-winning director Ben DeJesus (GREAT PERFORMANCES “John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway,” “John Leguizamo: Tales from a Ghetto Klown”), “Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage” is a warm and revealing portrait of the charismatic, groundbreaking actor’s journey from his native Puerto Rico to the creative hotbed of 1960s New York City, to prominence on Broadway and in Hollywood.

Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage: Trailer

Explore a warm and revealing portrait of the charismatic, groundbreaking actor’s journey from his native Puerto Rico to the creative hotbed of 1960s New York City, to prominence on Broadway and in Hollywood. Filled with passion, determination and joy, Juliá’s brilliant and daring career was tragically cut short by his untimely death 25 years ago, at age 54.

Filled with passion, determination and joy, Juliá’s brilliant and daring career was tragically cut short by his untimely death 25 years ago, at age 54.

Told in his own voice through archival interviews and in the words of those who knew him best, the film traces Juliá’s personal and professional life while showcasing performances from his collaboration with Joseph Papp’s The Public Theater to his successful cinematic career.

Raúl Juliá and Meryl Streep Go Head-to-Head

Two of the greatest actors of their generation unleash their powers in this clip from "Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage" that features rare, archival footage of Joseph Papp's 1978 Shakespeare in the Park production of "The Taming of the Shrew." Raúl Juliá plays Petruchio, an equal match for Meryl Streep's Kate.

His best-known roles include the history-making productions of “Titus Andronicus,” “Two Gentlemen of Verona” with Clifton Davis, “The Taming of the Shrew” with Meryl Streep and “The Threepenny Opera,” the Broadway musical “Nine,” and films such as “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Moon Over Parador,” “Romero,” “Presumed Innocent” and “The Addams Family.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of NGL Studios

Rita Moreno in "Raúl Juliá: The World's A Stage."

Interviews with some of the most respected actors who worked alongside Juliá, including Anjelica Huston, Edward James Olmos, Rita Moreno, James Earl Jones, Sonia Braga, Rubén Blades and Esai Morales, illuminate his impact as an artist.

Rita Moreno & Edward James Olmos on the discrimination

Rubén Blades, Andy Garcia, and others discuss how Raúl Juliá overcame discrimination to make a name for himself as an actor — without losing his Puerto Rican accent or changing his name — helping to pave the way for Latinx actors today.

In addition, actors John Leguizamo, Jimmy Smits, Andy Garcia and others share how they were profoundly influenced by Juliá and carry the torch of his legacy.

Juliá’s personal side comes to life through never-before-seen family photos and home videos, along with reminiscences from his wife, Merel, his sons, relatives and friends, who share candid insights about his life away from the spotlight.

Inside Look | Raúl Juliá

Get an inside look at "Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage" from AMERICAN MASTERS and VOCES. Explore a warm and revealing portrait of the charismatic, groundbreaking actor’s journey from his native Puerto Rico to the creative hotbed of 1960s New York City, to prominence on Broadway and in Hollywood.

The son of a prominent San Juan family, Juliá was discovered by Broadway actor Orson Bean, who heard Juliá’s powerful singing at a popular nightclub while vacationing in Puerto Rico.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Family Collection

Raúl at his country home, 1982.

Encouraged by Bean, and despite the concern of his family, he moved to New York City in 1964.

Although struggling at first to make ends meet, Juliá quickly earned roles with traveling troupes that played in neighborhoods throughout the city, and was soon performing with the acclaimed New York Shakespeare Festival.

Ever-present throughout Juliá’s story is the cultural landscape of the entertainment world and the boundaries he broke.

Before diversity and inclusion efforts were part of the national conversation, the big man with the engaging personality and accent was able to amass a varied body of timeless work that helped pave the way for Latino actors today.

He was also a passionate and pioneering advocate of social causes, including ending hunger. In Juliá’s words, “It’s all done within a context of love. That’s the beauty of it, you see?”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Family Collection

Raúl Juliá portrait.

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Credits:

A special presentation of THIRTEEN’s AMERICAN MASTERS and VOCES. The film is a co-production of ITVS, NGL Studios, Diamante Content, and Latino Public Broadcasting in association with American Masters Pictures. Director/Producer: Ben DeJesus. Producer: Jill Krikorian. Executive Producers: Sandie Viquez Pedlow, Donald Thoms, John Leguizamo, Michael Kantor and Sally Jo Fifer. Michael Kantor is executive producer for AMERICAN MASTERS. Sandie Viquez Pedlow is executive producer for VOCES.

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