Jeff Bezos really broke the internet. This new film shows the early days of the founder of Amazon
Madeleine Marr Miami Herald
MIAMI — Think back to a time when you couldn’t literally order anything that popped into your head at 4 am from your phone.
The year was 1994, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos toiled from 9 to 5 on a forward-thinking dream: an incredibly lofty one that involved a vast computer network called the “Internet.”
Opening Monday night at the University of Miami’s Cosford Cinema, Vision Films’ biopic “Bezos: The Beginning” delves into what transformed that unrealistic dream into the largest e-commerce site in the Web.
The film opens as Bezos, played by University of Miami graduate Armando Gutierrez (“The Little Mermaid”), was weighing whether to quit his fancy job at a New York City hedge fund with DE Shaw.
With a loving nudge from his devoted co-worker/girlfriend-turned-wife MacKenzie Scott (University of Central Florida alum Alex Mitchell, from “An American Murder Mystery”) and seed money from his stepfather Mike Bezos (Emilio Estefan), the a New Mexico native actually took the brave digital leap.
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You see Bezos starting the online book market from his garage in Bellevue, Washington, with the first sale taking place in July 1995.
(Fun fact: in those days, the Amazon was not named after the largest river in the world, it was called Cadabra, the middle of the phrase uttered after a magic trick. Obviously, it didn’t stick because it reportedly sounded as “corpse”. )
Gutierrez, who also shares production credits and orders something from Amazon almost daily, said it felt “natural” to make the film, based on the book “Zero to Hero.”
“It shows you the early years … the battles with competitors and the various people who didn’t want me to do this,” said the 305 area code native. “When I read the script, obviously, I was extremely excited to be a part of it. this origin story.
Although Gutierrez hasn’t met Bezos, he thinks the king of the World Wide Web should motivate us slugs in his hometown.
“The fact that someone like that went to school in Miami, that should cheer you up,” the 41-year-old said with a smile.
Speaking of enthused, Gutierrez said he “really, really enjoyed” playing the divorced father of four, even shaving half his head to channel the billionaire during various parts of his incredible journey.
“There’s a difference between him then and now,” the actor said. “He knew he wanted to start something, but he wasn’t sure what he was. He was still uncertain, as if he was afraid to leave his job. He goes back to Bezos in ’94 and says, ‘If you do this, you’ll be the richest man ever,’ and he’d say, ‘Yeah. Sure sure'”. (The 59-year-old actually remains at No. 3 at last count.)
When it came to choosing Bezos’s beloved stepfather, Miguel “Mike” Bezos, Emilio Estefan was the obvious choice. The famous music producer not only looked like the real person, but the two Cuban natives knew each other.
“He was a perfect fit,” Gutierrez said.
Estefan, who has had cameos in locally filmed movies like “Marley and Me,” “Rock of Ages” and “The Specialist,” agreed.
“People thought [the Amazon idea] he was crazy, but he had a vision and his father loved him very much,” said the Miami Sound Machine legend who arrived with his superstar wife Gloria. “It’s a great immigrant story. That is America. People take it for granted, but this [movie] Send a message: In America, all dreams can come true. We live in the best country in the world.”
“Bezos: The Beginning” is now playing on streaming services, including (yes) Amazon.