The world of entertainment is mourning the loss of a colossus. Argentine actor and director José Carlos Soriano, widely known as Pepe Soriano, passed away at 93. His outstanding contributions to cinema, with notable roles in films like “La Patagonia Rebelde” and “El último tren”, have left an indelible mark. His friend and former theater producer, Carlos Rottemberg, confirmed the sad news.
In a heartfelt social media post, Rottemberg shared a cherished memory: “Pepe was the first actor I worked with at the beginning of my career. When we took this photo, we promised to recreate it every year on the same date, preserving our friendship that went far beyond work. You will be deeply missed, dear friend.”
A lifetime on the silver screen
Though Soriano often played supporting roles, his undeniable talent made him one of the most recognizable faces in both Argentine and Spanish theater and cinema.
He began his cinematic journey in Argentina in 1955 with “Adiós Muchachos”, directed by Armando Bo, and followed it with “El Protegido” by Leopoldo Torre Nilsson the subsequent year. Soriano achieved national prominence for his role in the 1974 historical epic “La Patagonia Rebelde”, where he portrayed ‘Schultz, el alemán’, an anarchist character who instigated strikes that culminated in the execution of workers in Patagonia in 1921.
His reach extended beyond Argentina. In Spain, Soriano is fondly remembered for “Espérame en el cielo” (1988), where he took on the role of a double for Francisco Franco, and for playing Don Enrique Cano in the TV series “Farmacia de guardia” from 1991 to 1995. One of his last works, “El último tren”, a co-production between Uruguay, Argentina, and Spain, clinched the Goya Awards in 2002 for the Best Spanish Language Foreign Film.
The National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) of Argentina, on learning about his demise, expressed: “We mourn the passing of our beloved actor Pepe Soriano. He’s undoubtedly one of the country’s most distinguished actors. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones.”
A career adorned with accolades
Across his storied career, Soriano mesmerized audiences with his range and versatility. He embodied a plethora of memorable characters that earned him public affection and critical acclaim.
His list of accolades is a testament to his unparalleled contributions to the arts. Soriano was honored with the Konex Award in 1981, the Silver Condor for Best Actor in 1971, and the Silver Condor for Best Supporting Actor in 1995. The Argentine Film Critics Association celebrated his illustrious career with the Lifetime Achievement Silver Condor in 1998. By 2010, his contributions were recognized when he was declared an illustrious citizen of Buenos Aires.
Tributes Pour In
The entertainment industry, in both Argentina and beyond, is awash with heartfelt tributes. Actors, directors, journalists, and fans alike took to social media to share their sorrows and memories.
The Sociedad Argentina de Gestión Actores Intérpretes (Sagai) expressed their sadness: “Today, we bid farewell to our dear friend and colleague, Pepe Soriano. An epitome of dedication, struggle, and hard work; the guiding light that showed us the way.”
Actors Moria Casán and Osvaldo Santoro, among many others, also shared touching memories and sentiments. Santoro’s tribute was particularly poignant, “Dear Pepe, ascend peacefully to eternity. Here on earth, you are fulfilled with your talent, your warmth, and your unwavering commitment to your fellow actors. I’ll always carry you in my heart; you’ve been a life role model for me.”
An unforgettable encounter
Three years ago, in another September, I had the honor of interviewing Soriano. The venue was his home in Colegiales, a personal touch that already spoke volumes about the man. That day, Soriano wasn’t just an actor recounting his experiences; he was a life teacher. He spoke of his beginnings, his adventures during the dictatorship, clandestine performances, evading capture, the profound fear he felt as a father, and his eventual exile. He chose to return to Argentina, to fight and make a difference.
That day, I left with a heavy heart, not just from the stories he shared but from the realization of the monumental impact one man could have on an entire industry and country.
A legacy that resonates
As we mourn Pepe Soriano, we also celebrate his life and the lessons he left behind. He was more than just an actor; he was a beacon of resilience, dedication, and passion. Through his films, plays, and the personal stories he shared, Soriano has ensured that his legacy will continue to inspire and touch hearts for generations to come.