Eva Longoria on the set of Flamin' Hot

Photo: Everett Collection

Everyone loves rooting for the underdog, and the new Hulu film Flamin’ Hot, is a classic underdog story. The movie, directed by Eva Longoria, is the story of Richard Montañez (played by Jesse Garcia), a janitor at Frito-Lay who rose through the corporate ranks after he came up with the idea for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. But over the past two years, many people have disputed Montañez’s story, claiming he is not the sole inventor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and Flamin’ Hot misrepresents his role in the development of the snack. After an investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles Times, the paper concluded in 2021 that it was a team of product developers, and not Montañez, who came up with the flavor and name of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Despite that, Montañez’s story and his rise from janitor to executive is still impressive, a point that Longoria wants to make clear when discussing the merits of the film.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Longoria addresses the L.A. Times article, saying, “That article had zero effect on the movie we were telling. We’ve always been telling Richard Montañez’s story, and we’re telling his truth. We weren’t making a movie about the history of the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto. We’re telling the story of Richard Montañez.”

She added that she was committed to telling a story that would honor Montañez’s successes and his wisdom. “When I met Richard, I remember he was so funny and witty,” she says. “He’ll tell you, he’s the smartest uneducated man you’ll ever meet, because you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s not educated, but man he’s smart and profound.’ I knew immediately I wanted to put the movie in his point of view, from his perspective. And the minute we did that, we had creative liberty to do whatever we wanted. We’re in his mind, we’re in his heart.”

Flamin’ Hot is available to stream on Hulu and Disney+.