Sanz, Jorge

(1969- )
   Jorge Sanz was discovered by Pedro Lazaga, who chose him for a small part in La miel (Honey, 1979). He went on to play Conan as a child (and therefore Arnold Schwarzenegger's younger self) in John Milius' Conan the Barbarian (1982), and he became established as a child actor in protagonist roles in Valentina (José Antonio Betancor, 1982) and La rebelión de los pájaros (The Bird's Rebellion, Lluís Josep Comerón, 1982).
   Sanz might have been just one more bland young performer who vanishes at maturity had it not been for his vivid performance as teenager Manolo in Fernando Trueba's El año de las luces (The Year of Enlightenment, 1986). Arguably, Trueba was the director who best understood him as a growing man, and his roles in other Trueba films follow Sanz's evolution as a young adult and as a performer. He played an older and more sexually aware version of Manolo in Belle epoque (1992), and, later a flawed leading man in La niña de tus ojos (The Girl of Your Dreams, 1998). Vicente Aranda, on the other hand, moved him further away from blandness, giving him roles that allowed Sanz to explore darker emotions as the upstart in Si te dicen que caí (If They Tell You I Fell, 1989) or the woman-dominated young man in Amantes (Lovers, 1991).
   Both directors seemed keenly aware of Sanz as a passive male, indecisive and always lusted after by stronger women (four of them in Belle epoque, two in Amantes). However, it is an old-style passivity that never allows for homoeroticism: his failed collaboration with Pedro Almodóvar (intriguingly, he was meant to have starred in Carne Trémula [ Live Flesh ]) suggests that Sanz is less adaptable as an actor (in a way less penetrable) than other handsome leading men such as Antonio Banderas or Javier Bardem. Even when playing the object of desiring glances, he seems to be an alter ego for directors, unable to take the further step toward identifying with the feminine perspective.
   After Belle epoque, Sanz became one of the most popular young stars in Spanish film and was featured in a series of unchallenging war-of-the-sexes comedies including ¿Por qué lo llaman amor cuando quieren decir sexo? (Why Do They Call It Love When They Mean Sex? Manuel Gómez Pereira, 1993), Los peores años de nuestra vida (The Worst Years in Our Lives, Emilio Martínez-Lázaro, 1994), and ¿De qué se ríen las mujeres? (What Do Women Laugh About? Joaquín Oristrell, 1997). His rentboy in Hotel y domicilio (Hotel and Home, Ernesto del Río, 1995) was a flawed attempt at moving into riskier areas, and his limitations as a dramatic actor were evident in projects like the thriller Tuno negro (Black Serenade, Pedro L. Barbero and Vicente J. Martín, 2001) and Tiempo de tormenta (Stormy Weather, Pedro Olea, 2006), in which he played a shrill drug addict.
   By the late 1990s, both Sanz's looks and his roles were becoming less interesting. He continued to work, with an occasional attempt at serious acting in a supporting part in El Lobo (Wolf, Miguel Courtois, 2004), where he was excellent and almost unrecognizable as the ETA leader. Into his fourth decade as an actor he has yet to find a role, like Antonio Resines' in La buena estrella (Lucky Star, Ricardo Franco, 1997), that can redefine his career. In recent years, he has specialized on television, with only brief forays into film, with supporting roles in Torapia (Karra Elejalde, 2004) and Bienvenido a casa (Welcome Home, David Trueba, 2006).

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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