Teresa Ruiz Q&A: “The Marksman”

Actress Teresa Ruiz talks about immigration representation and her experiences while working on the new Liam Neeson border-thriller
Teresa Ruiz plays a mother trying to protect her son from cartel assassins at all costs in “The Marksman”. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures Home Ent.

Arturo Hilario
El Observador

Rancher and ex-Marine Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson) lives a quiet life at his desert home in Arizona, adjacent to the US-Mexico border. One day his solitude is broken and his position in life is abruptly changed as he is surveying his property and runs across two refugees in distress by the border fence, on the run from cartel members hot on their trail.

Although reluctant to help at first, rather than call border patrol, Hanson takes the mother and son duo into his protection tries to lead them away from harm, although they are caught in a shootout at which point mother Rosa (Teresa Ruiz) begs Jim to take her son Miguel (Jacob Perez) to the safety of family in Chicago.

What follows is a drama-thriller in which Jim Hanson steps up, breaking laws and his own rules, to try and help a young boy survive and have a chance at a better life.

Recently I spoke with Teresa Ruiz about her role in “The Marksman”, what it was like working in the desert on a kinetic Liam Neeson film, and how the film’s more realistic themes show the human toll of immigration and broken support systems for those fleeing dangerous conditions.

Hi Teresa, thanks for your time. To start, I wanted to know if you could tell me what attracted you to the character of Rosa and this film in general?

I think it’s very interesting that a film can put the two genres together, like the action, the action movie that we expect to see from an actor like Liam Neeson, and then at the same time, the story of immigration and a story of family with so much heart, that’s what attracted me.

I thought if I could be the representation of the struggle that so many immigrants go through and if the audiences that go to see this movie sit down to watch an actual film and then are able to remember or begin to understand for the first time what their mothers went through, what their grandmothers went through, then I thought I had I had something to add and something to give to that project.

I come from a family of immigrants, so I know the story firsthand. And I was I was I was born in Mexico, but I was raised in the US.

Thank you. Jumping off of that, this is a story that deals with both sides of the border and very human things, the struggle with people on both sides of the border. Can you expand on that and how that ties into the story?

Yeah, I think it was very important for me, and we see it in the film, in the very first scene where I am in Mexico and I’m with my child and he’s doing his homework and I’m cooking for him, is very important for me that in there you saw that we were happy that we lived happily in Mexico, that Mexico is not a place that you have all the stereotypes.

But there are situations that will make you have to run away. So, you have to leave the place that you love, the place where you’re happy, and then venture into a new world, not because you want to, but because you need to. I thought that was very important to portray in the film. And when we come here, when we cross the border and we meet the character of Liam Neeson, he starts as a person who believes immigrants are enemies, who believe that he needed to kick out.

And through getting to know us, through being in contact with me and with Jacob, then he has a change of heart and he has a change of mind. And I think that’s very important in this film, that we can give that message out, that it doesn’t matter what you believe, if you allow your mind to have a little space to open up to other cultures, to other people – than your mind and your heart can change, and we can all walk through a future that is more equal and that is better for all of us.

Can you talk about what it was like working on set on a film like this, which is both a drama and at some points high intensity action, and what it was like working on set with the other actors?

It was great. It was very fun because I don’t usually do my stunts but in this one, I wanted to do them. I didn’t end up doing them, we used professional stunt people, but it was fun to see them, how they coordinated them. I think I did like a couple of mini ones, and then we had Jacob on set, and it was really fun to be working with a kid who was so bright and so committed to what we were doing.

And then Liam is pretty incredible. He’s very generous and very kind and he’s just all laughter and commitment and it’s very easy to work with an actor with such talent because everything you do, it’s received. And then he gives you back so much.

I also got to work with Juan Pablo Raba who was there on set, and we just had a blast just shooting, it’s a real joy. And we were in the desert. I love shooting in the desert, even though it’s really heavy because there’s a lot of sand and a lot of sun. But I love that, it’s my favorite thing to do – to shoot in the desert.

What would you say is you’re most memorable take away from being part of “The Marksman”?

I really appreciated the commitment that all of the actors had toward the story of immigrants and to bettering the situation of what we see in the border, not just in terms of immigration that we’ve always had, which is currently the kids that are locked up in cages. I think that was a big thing that we were trying to speak about in this film. In this film, he takes them out from the Border Patrol, and he takes them to his family, to my character’s family in Chicago, where they go in the end.

And it was a very important message to say the families belong together, that a kid does not belong in a cage and does not belong with a border patrol or any kind [of similar situation], they belong with their family, no matter what situation the family might be in. It’s always better to be with the ones you love, the ones that you belong with.

Thanks again Teresa. Finally, I’d like to ask why you recommend “The Marksman”?

Because it’s a great movie, it’s really a fun movie to watch. It’s an action film with Liam Neeson. So, you know, there is guarantee you’re going to you’re going to enjoy it and at the same time it talks about issues that are important for us and things that are good to see.

It’s good for the heart and just in general to all the audiences, especially to Latin Americans or Hispanic people, I think we can see ourselves reflected in that story. And that’s always important, to see ourselves in them.

“The Marksman” is now on digital and will release on Blu-ray and DVD on May 11, 2021.