Raúl Juliá: The World's a Stage

A tribute to Puerto Rican–born actor Raúl Juliá, who broke through barriers and inspired future generations of Latino actors.

actor Raul Julia
American Masters
Premiere Date
September 13, 2019
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
Headshot of man

Ben DeJesus

Ben DeJesus is an award-winning, Emmy and Tony-nominated director, producer, writer, and co-founder of NGL Studios with John Leguizamo. Recent projects include PBS American Masters Lights, Camera, Acción and Raúl Juliá: The World's A Stage, Peacock / Telemundo's “2021 Latino Inaugural Special,” and CBS's “Momento Latino Special.”

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The Film

He was fondly known to many as Gomez, the spooky gothic patriarch from the 1990s Addams Family movies. To others, he was Valentin, the Brazilian political prisoner in 1985’s heartbreaking Kiss of the Spider Woman, the first independent film ever to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. But Puerto Rican–born actor Raúl Juliá’s sprawling career extended far beyond those hallmark roles, and has yet to receive the retrospective attention it deserves. Breaking through discriminatory casting barriers during his early years working in New York City, he spent three decades on the stage and screen, until his unexpected death at the age of 54. Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage celebrates that career and its impacts, as well as a personal life filled with activism and outsize humanitarian gestures.

On Broadway and in Hollywood, the charismatic, versatile actor worked with William Hurt, Susan Sarandon, Edward James Olmos, and Meryl Streep, who says of him that he “emanated exuberant joy…like heat in winter.” Through his boundary-pushing work, he inspired countless younger Latino actors, from John Leguizamo, Oscar Isaac, and Benicio Del Toro to Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame and Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez. Weaving together conversations with those who looked up to him, worked beside him, and knew him best, as well as archival interviews and intimate home videos that capture his magnetic presence, The World’s a Stage shines a spotlight on the rich, complex story of Juliá’s life.