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Sergio Calderón, actor known for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘Men in Black,’ dies

Sergio Calderón attends Peacock's "The Resort" premiere at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California, on July 25, 2022. Calderon has died at the age of 77. (Lisa O'Connor/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Sergio Calderón, the Mexican actor whose decadeslong career included dueling with Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow in the third “Pirates of the Caribbean” and an alien disguised with a head on a stick in “Men in Black,” has died.

Julie Smith, the actor’s representative, confirmed to the L.A. Times that Calderón died in a Los Angeles hospital Wednesday morning surrounded by his family after a bout of pneumonia. He was 77.

“Fly high my KING, My LIGHT, My Rock, My Best Friend, BEST DAD, BEST GRANDPA, My STRENGTH, MY INSPIRATION.. and MY MENTOR,” the actor’s son, Patrick Calderón captioned a Wednesday Instagram post translated from Spanish to English. “YOU FORMED ME INTO THE MAN I AM.. YOU ARE AT PEACE and in the best COMPANY.”

Born in a tropical village in Mexico on July 21, 1945, Calderón started his performing career at age 10 when he moved to Mexico City. The actor, who began with poetry readings, “stubbornly decided” he wanted to pursue TV and film despite critics telling him he wasn’t handsome enough for screen, he told the L.A. Times in May.

Calderón’s first professional acting role was 1970’s “The Bridge in the Jungle,” which starred Hollywood legend John Huston and was filmed in the rain forests of Chiapas, Mexico. Calderón was working as an English teacher at the time, which helped him to act in English.

In the ’70s, he also appeared in films “The Heist,” “La India” and “Players.” After receiving his Screen Actors Guild card for his role in the 1979 Hollywood comedy “The In-Laws,” Calderón moved to Los Angeles.

Throughout his career, Calderón has played a variety of characters, including a manager, a truck driver and a police officer. However, in his most memorable role, Calderón is just a head on a stick.

In 1997’s “Men in Black,” Calderón’s Jose is among a handful of immigrants rounded up by border patrol. It’s immediately clear that something’s up with Jose when he only nods and chuckles in response to Agent K’s (Tommy Lee Jones) questions. Agent K takes a knife to Jose’s outerwear to expose an alien carrying Calderón’s head on a short pole.

A handful of roles later, Calderón found himself in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise as Pirate Lord Eduardo Villanueva in the 2007 follow-up, “At World’s End.” He also voiced the character in the accompanying video game.

“I love to play those types of characters, because people really hate me,” he told the L.A. Times. “They tell me in the streets how much they hate me. But to me, that is my success. Because that means I was able to convince people with what I performed.”

In addition to his movie roles, Calderón appeared in several TV projects including “The A-Team,” “Have You Seen My Son,” “Better Things” and the Peacock series “The Resort,” in which he portrayed a corrupt police officer. His most recent film credit was “The Seven Faces of Jane.”

“If I can make them cry and I can make them laugh, then maybe I’m a good actor,” he said.

Calderón is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.


© 2023 Los Angeles Times

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