- Diego, Juan
- (1942- )An actor's actor, respected and admired by the profession (Javier Bardem considers him his hero), Juan Diego had a long career on stage and television before he was widely recognized as an established screen presence. Since the late 1950s, he had been a regular in various TV roles, particularly in filmed plays. From the late 1960s, he was featured in a number of low-budget films, including some by Eloy de la Iglesia (Algo amargo en la boca [ Something Bitter in the Mouth, 1969 ], La criatura [ The Creature, 1977 ]), but remained primarily a stage actor. During the Transition, he was very committed to left-wing causes and owed his reputation to activism rather than acting. This began to change in the mid-1980s. Paradoxically, it was his part as a heartless Francoist landowner in Los santos inocentes (The Holy Innocents, Mario Camus, 1984) that first brought him to film audiences' attention. He was also the first Spanish actor to play General Francisco Franco on screen, in Dragon Rapide (Jaime Camino, 1986).These two roles were a first measure of an outstanding versatility, displayed in a variety of protagonist and supporting roles. A selective list of his most remarkable parts would include his Saint John of the Cross in Carlos Saura's Noche oscura (Dark Night, 1989); a very funny and cannily drawn nervous monk in El rey pasmado (The Baffled King, Imanol Uribe, 1991); the castrated father in the testosterone-fuelled Jamón, Jamón (Bigas Luna, 1992); a nudist libertarian in Paris Timbuctú (Luis G. Berlanga, 1994); a highly strung and uncommunicative boss in Smoking Room (Roger Gual y Julio D. Wallowits, 2002); a low-life boss in La virgen de la lujuria (Virgin of Lust, Arturo Ripstein, 2002); the menacing head of a publishing company in trouble (Torremolinos 73, Pablo Berger, 2003); and a failed actor bonding with his son in Vete de mí (Go Away From Me, Victor García León, 2006) for which he won a Goya award.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.