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Rafael Inclán: Fear-defying Actor’s Incredible Journey to Greatness in Mexico

Rafael Inclán: A Life Shaped by Family and Insecurity

(Photo by Adrián Monroy / Medios y Media / Getty Images)

On one occasion, journalist Guillermo Ochoa asked Rafael Jiménez Inclán how he learned to act. Rather, he questioned who taught him to become Rafael Inclán. The question might seem confusing but it was not: the actor, who is recognized as one of the icons of a highly stigmatized film genre, comes from a family of great talents, like his father Alfonso Jiménez, el Kilómetro, an excellent classical tap dancer; and his uncle Miguel Inclán, one of the most renowned villains of the Golden Age; in addition to many others dedicated to the theater, the cinema, the tents, the cabaret.

Even with this family of prodigies for entertainment, Inclan did not want to be in the industry because he saw, or considered, that his relatives did not earn money. However, he decided to try and since then his work covers more than 100 films, dozens of soap operas, series, theater and dubbing in more than half a century of experience.

Actor Rafael Inclán received the special Luna award for A life on stage in 2019 (Credit: Víctor Chávez/Getty Images)

“All of us who are in the media, who show our faces, even if you are a villain, murderer, comedian, the milkman, whatever you are, are moved by the desire to please and to continue with the attitude of being in the forum in any of its areas,” Inclán said.

The second reason, and perhaps the most important for him, insecurity: “I am less insecure, but when I started I was very insecure because I brought the shadow of the whole family.”

Rafael Inclán began in the tent and the opera theater, but At the beginning of the ’70s, Víctor Manuel Güero Castro invited him to be part of a new cinematographic genre, the fichera cinema, which was nourished by Italian erotic comedy and the old rumberas cinema; and after the sex comedy, relatively low-budget and not necessarily high-quality films, with a sexual and mischievous tone, although not particularly explicit, and double meaning language, the very famous —and very difficult— albur.

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Beauties at night, Cabaret nights, The affectionate ones, Sex makes me laugh, The temptresses, The pulquería, You suffer but enjoy yourself, and dozens more are part of his extensive filmography, in which he alternated with figures such as Luis de Alba, Pedro Weber Chatanuga, El Flaco Ibáñez, Alfonso Zayas (who was also his cousin).

“I’ve made several films, I’m not ashamed (…), the ones that embarrass me are very few, but they are the ones that happen the most!”

Although they gave him a lot of work and projection, producer Roberto Rodríguez (whom we owe him the rise of talkies in Mexico) saw greater potential in the actor. However, Inclán initially declined the invitation because, in his opinion, “I was not ready for that step, naked to the forum; (he proposed to me) The wallet man, the producer brought together Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Blanca Guerra, several credits, and I read the script I told him ‘sir, your story is very cool but I think it’s like for (Ernesto) Gómez Cruz,'” he told in an interview on the program Members on the air.

One of his reasons, in addition to his insecurity, would have been the antecedent that a previous version was interpreted by Ignacio López Tarso and possibly he feared the comparisons, because he was also venturing into a new genre, the tragicomedy. Rodríguez explained that although his proposal for actor was acceptable, it was not the one he had in mind because Inclán was the most popular and most profitable at the time.

Another moment of insecurity in the life of the Nicotina actor (for which he won the Ariel for Best Actor) was when he offered to venture into classical theater. On that occasion, the producer Miguel Sabido was the one who had him in his sights. “He was in a soap opera with a great cast (Simply María, with Victoria Ruffo and Silvia Derbez),” a lady told me, “the man (Miguel) wants to see him.” Known, here the intelligentsia. I go and tell me ‘you are going to do Molière’s Miser,'” he recalled. Once again, the actor doubted his talent and used his recent work, the film El Mofles, as a pretext.

“I was very scared because (it was) classical theater, but there was an assistant director who told me ‘don’t suck… Molière is comedy, nothing more than the 16th century, if you touch the century and touch the verse, you’re done,’ and I lasted about a year and a half there.” But that was at the beginning, because Inclán has returned a few other seasons with this staging. In 2022 he told how this work came to him.

“It is not easy for me to remember, it seems that the actress Silvia Derbez recommended me, or so I thought, because there is another version by Irene Sabido, writer and television and theater producer, who says that the recommendation came from Ignacio López Tarso,” he said in an interview with El Sol de México.

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