The 43-year-old Cuban-born actor hit it big, first with his role in ``The Untouchables'' in 1987 and then three years later in Francis Ford Coppola's ``The Godfather: Part III.'' He became a true Hollywood star -- winning glossy magazine covers and Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his role in the Coppola film.
Garcia went on to star opposite Meg Ryan in ``When a Man Loves a Woman.'' He then worked in quirkier films like ``Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead'' and ``The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca'' about the famed Spanish poet.
Now in ``Just the Ticket,'' Garcia stars as Gary, a love-struck ticket scalper who tries to woo his ex-girlfriend Linda (played by Andie MacDowell) while trying to make it as a hustling ticket seller in New York. When he finds out Pope John Paul II is coming to Yankee Stadium for Easter Mass, Gary has to find a way to get past the competition to win big -- and win back Linda.
Garcia was a producer for the movie, which was 10 years in the making, and also wrote songs for the film's Latin-influenced soundtrack.
He sat down in a Beverly Hills hotel on a recent afternoon. A dapper olive-green suit and matching silk shirt add class to his already handsome looks.
1. After spending so much time on this project, do you feel added pressure for it to do well?
Garcia: It's not pressure. It's just an enormous amount of work. We shot the movie two summers ago. We had to cut the movie, finish it, sell it, you know. Then the studio (MGM) bought it. They wanted to sell it. They wanted to test it some more and cut a couple of things out. ... But I am very proud that we were able to pull it off and that it's a real film.
1 1/2. How did you get interested in a project about a ticket scalper in the first place?
Garcia: If you look at what I have done in the past years, I certainly have not picked movies that are necessarily commercial films or mainstream. ... It's just something that has to grab you when you read it. You go, 'This is a beautiful script and this is a story I want to get behind.' A lot of times people who are thinking with a more overall commercial value in your life will go, 'I don't think it's a good idea for your career.' But I go, 'Yeah, why shouldn't I do it? It's why I'm here.'
2. Your family left Cuba when you were 5 years old to escape from Fidel Castro. Do you miss Cuba?
Garcia: Every day ... (But) it's not easy to go back. You have to take a stand against something like that. And it would be a great betrayal to go there. I obviously think about going back all the time, but it's like asking a Jew to go visit Nazi Germany. ... I hope that one day democracy will exist and (Castro) will no longer be there.
3. Whom do you admire?
Garcia: I've always said that the only heroes in my life are my mother and father. Luckily, I don't have to look for heroes outside of my own house.
3 1/2. What did your parents teach you about life?
Garcia: Their work ethic was extraordinary. That was really helpful. My father used to say, 'Never take a step backward -- not even to gain momentum' and that's helped me tremendously.
3 3/4. How have you juggled your fame with family life?
Garcia: I'm married with three daughters -- 15, 11 and 7. I've been married since 1982 and we went out seven years before that. It's been a long time. ... I have a blessed life and there is nothing to be bitter about. Ultimately, what is more important than the health and happiness of your own children?
4. You began acting as a teen-ager and continued in college. What brought you to Hollywood?
Garcia: I had a friend out here. He said, 'Hey there's lots of work out here.' I said, 'Great. I'm there.' I came out here and that success didn't come to me that easily. I left in 1978 and started to make a living as an actor in 1985. I worked as a waiter, a roofer, on the docks, as a mover -- whatever jobs were going on.
5. What's next for you?
Garcia: I have a movie that I want to direct that I have been developing that deals with the cabaret scene in Havana circa 1959 at the turn of the Revolution -- sort of the end of that era and the tragedy of what happened there and the destruction of families because of the political process. And I want to record an album of my own music. Music is a great part of my life. I play every day.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press