“I’m so honored to have led this team in telling a beautiful story where people can see themselves in these characters and are inspired by the endless beauty and talent that is so rich in our community,” Longoria tells Variety exclusively. “Every day we were on set, I was reminded again and again by our amazing cast and crew that our community is smart, creative and endlessly talented.”
From a script by Lewis Colick and Linda Yvette Chávez, the film tells the story of Richard Montañez, a Mexican American who turned the iconic Flamin’ Hot Cheetos snack into a global pop culture phenomenon. The film is produced by DeVon Franklin (“Breakthrough”) for Franklin Entertainment. Searchlight has yet to set a release date.
“From the moment I found Richard Montañez’s story, I was inspired by his sheer determination to succeed against all odds,” says Franklin.
The film stars Jesse Garcia (“Quinceañera”) as the inspirational Richard, with Annie Gonzalez (“Gentefied”) playing his wife, Judy. The rest of the cast includes Dennis Haysbert (“Far from Heaven”), Emilio Rivera (“Venom”), Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Pepe Serna (“Scarface”), Bobby Soto (“Narcos”), Jimmy Gonzales (“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”) and TikTok star Brice Gonzalez. Also attached to the ensemble are Vanessa Martinez, Fabian Alomar, Mario Ponce and Hunter Jones.
In a statement, Searchlight Pictures presidents Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum said: “Eva and DeVon came to Searchlight with a powerhouse pitch, a singular vision and a deep passion for this exhilarating story of entrepreneurship. We are thrilled to bring this film to audiences everywhere.
“Flamin’ Hot” is overseen by Searchlight’s senior vice president of production Taylor Friedman and director of development Zahra Phillips.
A diverse team of artisans has been assembled, such as cinematographer Federico Cantini, production designers Brandon Mendez (“Black is King”) and Cabot McMullen (“Super Troopers 2”), costume designer Elaine Montalvo (“A Better Life”), editor Liza D. Espinas (Starz’s “Vida”) and casting director Carla Hool (“Narcos”).
Earlier this year, controversy surrounded the feature when a Los Angeles Times article disputed Montañez’s role in the beloved snack’s invention, backed up by statements from Frito-Lay. Montañez told Variety in May, “I was their greatest ambassador. But I will say this; you’re going to love your company more than they will ever love you. Keep that in perspective.”
Variety's Clayton Davis contributed to this post.