ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Raoul Trujillo has played two types of characters – the bad guy or one that is donned in a lot of makeup.
For his current role in “Persecuted,” he gets to wear a suit – and be the bad guy.
“I jumped at this chance,” he said. “I never get to look as sharp as I did for this film.”
Trujillo plays Mr. Gray in the political thriller.
“Persecuted” depicts evangelist John Luther, played by James Remar, as the last obstacle in the way of sweeping religious reform.
When a senator frames Luther for the murder of an innocent teenage girl, an unprecedented era of persecution is unleashed.
An evangelist-turned-fugitive, Luther has a mission that brings him face to face with the coming storm of persecution that will threaten the entire Christian community in America.
The film was shot entirely in and around Albuquerque last year. It opens in 800 theaters across the nation today, including the Duke City at Century Rio 24 and Cottonwood theaters and in Santa Fe at Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14.
It also stars Bruce Davison and New Mexico resident Dean Stockwell.
Trujillo said writer and director, Daniel Lusko, specifically wrote the part of Mr. Gray for him.
“I’ve become great friends with Daniel, and when he told me he carved out this character for me, it was humbling,” he said. “I’ve been in a lot of films, and this one was shot in my home state.”
Trujillo said Mr. Gray is brutal.
“He’s one of those typical government assassins, and you don’t want to run into him at all,” he said. “He’s not a very nice guy and is a rebel.”
The low-budget independent film had its world premiere in Los Angeles this week, and Trujillo went there for the event.
“The premiere was originally going to be in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “But they thought it would work better to premiere in LA.”
Trujillo – a native New Mexican – is one of many local actors who have been able to find success in the film industry. After a career in dancing, he turned to acting more than 20 years ago.
He’s been seen in films “Blaze You Out,” “Love Ranch,” “Apocalypto,” “The New World” and, most recently, a stint on the TV show “Da Vinci’s Demons.”
He’s also finished shooting “Blood Father” with Mel Gibson, and will be in “Sicario” with Benecio Del Toro, Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin.
Trujillo said being able to film in New Mexico gives some normalcy to his life.
“Last year, I was living in Europe for six months with a project,” he said. “When I get to shoot here on something like ‘Persecuted,’ it gives me a chance to be close to my family and stay on my ranch.”
In fact, Trujillo has built his career up so well that when he auditions, he usually does it from his home in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
“I rarely fly out to LA for auditions,” he said. “I’m everywhere else but LA. The entire film industry has changed so much.”
Trujillo said he’s looking forward to seeing the reaction to “Persecuted.”
“This is a film where Albuquerque doubled for Washington, D.C.,” he says. “It’s pretty amazing to see how it all got done.”