Actor Lou Torres has the curse of most character actors: the viewing audience knows his face but
doesn’t know his name.
This burly Puerto Rican from the Bronx is recognizable from films such as the first “Spiderman,” “Shaft,” “Taxi” with Queen Latifah, “The Fantastic Four,” “Night at the Museum,” “El Cantante” and “Music and Lyrics.”
“Now people look at me (on the street) like they know me or they’ve seen me or they don’t believe it’s me,” said Torres who is large and magnetic with sensitive eyes and a brusque voice.
He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and studied at Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music.
He used to be a New York City music teacher and a caseworker at Planned Parenthood. He also served at one point as assistant chief of staff to Councilman David Rosado.
But in the late 1990’s, things changed.
Torres recalled that he saw a Spanish newspaper classified ad looking for “a tough Hispanic male for the film ‘Sleepers’ with Robert De Niro.”
At first, he thought it was a hoax or a scam. But his friend convinced Torres to go to the audition even though he had no formal acting training. He didn’t get the part, but he was encouraged to pursue acting.
Torres has since taken acting classes at H.B. studios, The Actors Studio and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre’s Raul Julia Training Unit.
He is now a full-time actor and producer. He runs Big Lou Productions and has done three films so far.
As a working actor, he mainly plays the big guy, the storeowner or bouncer types.
“I’m happy to get all of my roles,” Torres said.
“I look at it as work. Whatever work I get, I’m appreciative of it.”
Now, Torres produces movies to provide himself and other actors with the non-traditional roles and projects he dreams about. His big dream is to do a Latino remake of “Marty.”
“I’ve already produced my second project called ‘Rockaway’ and that’s going to be released by Lions Gate. Nothing has been formalized, but he is hoping that something positive will happen by next year.
For now, Torres said he’s going to continue producing movies and telling stories. “Maybe one day I'll cast myself as the lead.”
Robert Waddell is a Bronx-based writer who contributes articles to Puerto Rico Sun.