UPDATED with statement from Andy Garcia, 8:45 AM: Veteran character actor Julio Oscar Mechoso died Nov. 25 of a heart attack. He was 62. His longtime best friend Andy Garcia wrote a lengthy statement about Mechoso’s passing; read it below.
The Miami native, whose death was reported by the Miami Herald, made his screen acting debut in 1979 on the sitcom ¿Qué pasa, U.S.A.? A gifted and versatile performer in both drama and comedy, Mechoso appeared in dozens of films, including Little Miss Sunshine, The Legend of Zorro, Jurassic Park III, Last Weekend and co-starred in TV series Greetings From Tuscan, Cane and Damon. He also appeared in John Bruno-helmed Virus alongside William Baldwin, Joanna Pacula and Jamie Lee Curtis (see photo above).
Known mostly for playing gangsters and cops, Mechoso was a favorite of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, who worked with him in five films and TV series, most recently on the El Rey drama series Matador and From Dusk Till Dawn.
Mechoso’s extensive resume also includes guest stints on Coach, Miami Vice, Seinfeld, Grey’s Anatomy, Ghost Whisperer, Without a Trace, Nip/Tuck, CSI, The Big Bang Theory and most recently, Madam Secretary and Life In Pieces.
“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, producer Juan Carlos Coto told the Miami Herald. “He played them all with such spirit and such life that you just couldn’t top watching him.”
Mechoso also had several writing projects in the works, according to the Miami Herald, including a script about his teenage days at Miami’s Old Mutiny Hotel.
Here is Garcia’s statement about Mechoso:
In Loving Memory of my friend Julio Oscar Mechoso.
How can one express the extreme loss of someone so close to you, the extreme emptiness that one feels now and forever. 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. I say is, because his artistry will carry on and will be present in all that will witness it. That will never die.
He shared with us his deepest, most personal soul, always readily available for us to see. His emotional range as an actor is unequaled. His dedication to research and psychology was something to witness and admire. We were always there for each other weather to help with a part, develop a script, and discuss the sublime nature of the work.
I always wanted Julio with me in any work that I was doing. Because Julio always elevated the film. Working with him was for me an effortless privilege. We got off on each other, we laughed and we cried together. He was an actor’s actor. We all knew what he was capable of delivering and it was always quite extraordinary.
His charisma was uncanny. Ever since we met in college he captivated me with his work, whether in his imitation of George C. Scott as Patton, or his soulful rendition of Randall in “Slow Dance on a Killing Ground.” The character of Randall had a hole in his heart, Julio showed it to us. It was an unforgettable moment. How did he do it? We marveled at his depth. Now I too have a hole in my heart, a hole that will never be filled. Only in his memory and his constant inspiration will the edges of the hole harden and not bleed.
Julio cherished the work of an actor. He treated it with great respect. He honored it. He was fearless and experimental. Always living and searching for the absolute truth. He was proud to be an actor, But he was most proud of his family. The love of his life Linda, what a beautiful relationship they shared, And the pride and love he had for his three children, Melinda, JJ and CJ was a marvel.
As Julio would often say to me I would take a bullet for them. He would also say that to me. “Bicho” he would call me, “Bicho, I would take a bullet for you.” This I never doubted. It was a loving but serious declaration. Perhaps there was a stray bullet in the air that tragic night you left us and you took it for all of us.
I will cherish all the precious and sublime times we shared acting and perhaps even more, singing together our beloved Rumba’s.
We learned together our craft. I am proud to say that together we elevated it to an art form. We shared family, friends, Dolphins, food, drink and music, always with our families by our side.
I will miss you, my brother. You left us an incredible and inspirational body of work.
I will carry on, as you would like me to. As it is our duty. With you always by my side. Cherishing the work, and honoring your spirit in my work. That is my promise to you.
Los Angeles, CA. 11.26.2017