Five almost-strangers—all right, almost-complete strangers—were suddenly thrust on that trip to fame when they were announced as cast members for New Moon. I remember mentioning that, while writing about it, I was having a pretty hard time looking for photos of the Native American actors, which means I only laid my hands on a couple of them. I also spotted a third—that of Alex Meraz—but didn’t use it because it was too small. But I remember his photgraphs. There’s something with his eyes, all right.
Eventually, fans have paid attention to Meraz, thanks in part to that gaze and his handful of shirtless photos that have made their rounds on the days after the announcement. Perhaps you can say that the attention he gets from fans now is the same attention he got back when he was just an obscurity. “The camera loves him,” said his friend, fellow actor Raoul Trujillo. “Everywhere we go people are always saying, ‘Good God, who is your friend?’”
The key to Meraz’ physique is his routine. He was discovered while break dancing in Phoenix, Arizona, and that (along with his looks and his heritage) led him to the industry. He was part of the film The New World, although it was just a small role (“[They] he didn’t look Mayan enough, which was silly,” co-star Trujillo said), but he nevertheless managed to impress. During the wrap-up party, he impressed lead Colin Farrell: “[He] was just sitting and watching cross-legged all ga-ga going, ‘Oh my god,’” Trujillo said.
Meraz is also involved in mixed martial arts, having won several competitions both in karate and in the Brazilian sport capoeira. “He’s a pretty lethal martial artist,” Trujillo said. “He can kick some serious ass.”
Add that to his work ethic—“Alex drove from Phoenix to my ranch in New Mexico on his birthday weekend so I could help him with his audition”—and his dedication, and you’ve got someone who has the knack to make it to New Moon. “If there’s anyone I have known in my life that deserves this, it’s Alex,” Trujillo said. “He’s worked his ass off in the time I have known him. He never lets up.” Although it can be luck, too: “New Moon happened to be there at the right time,” he said. “This is his first big break. And what a break to have. This whole thing is a [phenomenon].”
But girls, he’s married. He’s even got a child, named Somak. “His wife is the one who has read all of those books,” Trujillo said of Meraz’ Vietnamese-American wife, Kim. “And she’s the one who said, ‘Look, you have to got to get into this. This is perfect for you. You’re the one.’”
But I think that won’t get in the way of the attention fans will give him once the film gets into full swing. “I sometimes have to tell him, ‘I hate you, put your shirt on,’” Trujillo quipped. “He’s slender anyways and he has a body that just is that way. He doesn’t even really work out because if he works out he gets huge … It’s from the martial arts and the break dancing. And he’s one of those genetically gifted guy. They are going to have to get a trainer for everyone else on set or he is going to stand out like a sore thumb.”