Actor Julio Oscar Mechoso, known for his roles in films like "Jurassic Park III" and "Little Miss Sunshine," has died at 62.
Mechoso is reported to have died from a heart attack on Nov. 25, according to People. Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Mechoso had a long career in TV and film and was seen as an prominent figure for Hispanic-American actors and directors in Hollywood.
Mechoso started acting in his 20s, landing his first television role on the sitcom "Que Pasa, U.S.A.?" He went on to appear in many roles on shows including "Seinfeld," "Miami Vice," "Grey's Anatomy," and "The Big Bang Theory."
Mechoso's film credits even include a role in "The Legend of Zorro."
Mechoso was known early on in his career for playing tough characters like gangsters and hardened cops, but he soon showed his comedic side, according to the Miami Herald. Producer Peter Murrieta recalled that bosses at the WB network didn't want Mechoso to read for a role in the comedy "Greetings From Tucson."
"They told me, 'This guy is a great gangster, but he has no comedy credits,'" said Murrieta. "I said, 'That's because there's no Hispanic comedies, dudes.' He came and he was hilarious playing this gruff Mexican-American dad, the funniest guy at the read by a mile. We cast him and he was great."
"He was an actor with a capital A," added Murrieta, recounting a moment when he entered Mechoso's trailer during his time on "Greeting from Tucson," where Murrieta discovered that Mechoso's trailer was covered in versions of scripts scrawled with annotations about how Mechoso would perform various scenes.
"He was a very funny guy," recalled Mechoso's daughter, Melinda. "He was an entertainer. If you look at his old school pictures from Miami, the people around him always have big smiles, because he’s doing something to make them laugh. He loved do that. He would never let anyone else talk at the dinner table -- he had too many stories to tell."
Producer Juan Carlos Coto said Mechoso was an actor with a variety of talents.
"He was a utility player who could do anything, be a lead in a sitcom like 'Greetings From Tucson' and then a vicious Mexican narcotrafficker in 'Kingpin' and then a quirky demon who works part time as a limo driver taking souls to Hell in 'From Dusk Till Dawn,'" said Coto. "He played them all with such spirit and such life that you just couldn't stop watching him."
Mechoso also had a talent for singing and playing guitar. Producer-director Robert Rodriguez, who worked with Mechoso in several films and television series, recalled Mechoso asking to borrow his guitar one day.
"He took my guitar and played the hell out of it," said Rodriguez. "He sang and danced around for the whole crew right there in the streets of Boyle Heights ... That sight and sound became my favorite memory of Julio, him thrilling us with further proof of his breathless talent and his giving heart, while singing into the night. That image is all I can see right now."
Actor Andy Garcia was a longtime friend of Mechoso's, and wrote a letter to the Miami Herald as a tribute to his friend.
"How can one express the extreme loss of someone so close to you, the extreme emptiness that one feels now and forever," said Garcia in the letter. "A sudden loss is always unjust, but in the case of Julio Oscar Mechoso, my friend, my soul mate it is greater than that, as I have lost the truest of friends."
"Julio is a unique and extraordinary artist ... his artistry will carry on and will be present in all that will witness it. That will never die."