NBC's Today on Monday featured an interview in its fourth hour with Mexican actor Eduardo Verastegui, a star in the film "For Greater Glory" which chronicles Mexico's persecution of Catholics in the 1920s. Brent Bozell has urged people to see it when it debuts this weekend.
Verastegui, who also starred in the pro-life film "Bella," explained “This film is an action epic film about the men and women who were not afraid to defend something bigger than themselves, something, you know, their faith.” Kathie Lee Gifford called the film “very moving.” (Video and transcript below)
Verastegui plays Anacleto Gonzales Flores, a lawyer who was executed in 1927 by the anti-Catholic government.
KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Singer, model, actor and all-around sweetheart, Eduardo Verastegui is no stranger to visiting us here at Studio 1A.
HODA KOTB: He is starring alongside Eva Longoria and Andy Garcia in the new movie called "For Greater Glory" based on a true story about the war in Mexico. Let's take a look.
(Clip from "For Greater Glory")
GIFFORD: And he's here with us today. So good to see you, honey.
KOTB: Nice to see you.
EDUARDO VERASTEGUI: Nice to see you.
GIFFORD: This movie is very moving. I was not aware of this. It was basically--in 1926, a war I didn't even know about. Tell us about it, Eduardo.
VERASTEGUI: Well, I didn't know either. Just...
GIFFORD: And you're Mexican.
VERASTEGUI: A few years ago somebody asked me in Los Angeles, `So why don't you do a movie about the Cristero War?' `What are you talking about?'
KOTB: `What is that?'
VERASTEGUI: `The Cristero War, you know? I mean, you're from Mexico.' And I--it was embarrassing for me...
VERASTEGUI: ...because then I find out eventually that many of my friends didn't know either because the government took that information out of--out of public schools.
VERASTEGUI: And I went to public school, so...
GIFFORD: And out of history books.
VERASTEGUI: Yes. So therefore, nobody knows. So this is the untold story now told on the big screen for the first time.
KOTB: Great cast, too, by the way, huh?
GIFFORD: And it was a crackdown on religious freedoms.
GIFFORD: And they basically took the Catholic Church away from the Catholic people.
GIFFORD: ...and said, “You can't--you can't be Catholic anymore,” basically.
VERASTEGUI: Well, this film is a--is an action epic film about the men and women who were not afraid to defend something bigger than themselves, something, you know, their faith. And when Plutarco Elias Calles, who was the president of Mexico at that time, he started this religious persecution against the Catholic Church...
VERASTEGUI: ...where 90,000 people--90,000 people die in this horrible war.
GIFFORD: And nuns and priests were slaughtered and...
Mr. VERASTEGUI: Yeah, they were.
KOTB: It's an interesting...
VERASTEGUI: If you were Catholic, they were--they--you know...
VERASTEGUI: ...they were--it was--it was bad. They were killing you--they would kill you.
KOTB: A really--it's a really, really fascinating subject....
GIFFORD: This is a very moving film and it's very, very personal to Eduardo, too...
GIFFORD: ...because he makes a huge stand for his own faith...
VERASTEGUI: And what a perfect day today, Memorial Day, you know --
GIFFORD: And Memorial Day.
VERASTEGUI: -- to honor American heroes. Well, this is about the Mexican heroes who gave their very life...
GIFFORD: Gave their life as well.
VERASTEGUI: ...for religious freedom.