Alex Espinoza on the romance of old Hollywood [video]


Author Alex Espinoza talks about his new book “The Five Acts of Diego Leon” at the Festival of Books.

Alex Espinoza’s new novel, “The Five Acts of Diego Leon,” is the story of a fictional Mexican American actor who becomes one Hollywood studio’s Latin Lover -- like Rudolph Valentino -- in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

“Through cunning, wit, and a little bit of talent, he ends up becoming an actor and has all kinds of adventures in old Hollywood,” Espinoza tells L.A. Times staff writer Carolyn Kellogg. “I did a lot of old research, looked at old photographs -- and, of course, watched a bunch of old movies, which was really fun.”


Two books were very important to Espinoza’s novel. One was Lillian Faderman’s “Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians,” which helped show how closeted gay actors maneuvered through Hollywood.


The other was a novel, Nathanael West’s “The Day of the Locust.” The book was always a favorite of Espinoza’s, but it became even more important to him when he was writing “The Face Acts of Diego Leon.” “There’s a scene in the book that echoes, is my homage to, a scene in ‘The Day of the Locust,’” he explains.

For more conversation with Espinoza, click on the video above.


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