Héctor is the deuteragonist of the Disney/Pixar film, Coco. He was a Mexican musician in life and died, becoming a resident and spirit in the Land of the Dead. Héctor helps Miguel in his quest to find the missing singer Ernesto de la Cruz and escape the Land of the Dead.
- “The papá, he was a musician. He and his family would sing, and dance, and count their blessings. But he also had a dream: to play for the world. And one day he left with his guitar, and never returned.”
- ―Miguel, opening narration
Many years ago, Héctor was a passionate musician from Santa Cecilia, born there on November 30, 1900. During his life, he met a woman named Imelda, and their shared talent in music sparked a romance. They fell in love, married, and later had a daughter named Coco in 1918. Héctor is a loving father and wrote the song "Remember Me" for her. While Imelda was ready to settle down and plant roots for their family, Héctor still wanted to give his songs to the world. So in mid-1921, he set out on tour with his childhood friend Ernesto de la Cruz. Héctor wrote the songs and Ernesto sang them. During the tour, Héctor began to feel homesick to the point where he came around to Imelda's way of thinking and decided to go home to his family. When he told Ernesto, they had an argument where Ernesto begged him to stay as he needed his songs but Héctor was unmoved. Ernesto seemingly accepted his friend‘s decision and offered to send him off with a toast saying he would move heaven and earth for his amigo. On his way to the train station, Héctor suddenly collapsed and died as Ernesto spiked his toast with poison earlier.
During his time in the Land of the Dead, Héctor learned how Ernesto took credit for his songs. When Imelda died, she refused to welcome Héctor back to the Riveras. Estranged from his family, Héctor spent his years trying to cross over to the Land of the Living to see Coco but he was rejected as his family wouldn't put his picture up.
- Héctor is a charming trickster in the Land of the Dead who is forced to enlist help from Miguel to visit the Land of the Living.
Before he was murdered by Ernesto De la Cruz and some flashbacks where he sings "Remember Me" for his daughter Coco, Héctor was a human with short black hair and loose bangs, tanned skin, brown eyes, and a goatee. He wore a light brown Mexican formal attire with white upper outlines similar to Ernesto's.
As a spirit in the Land of the Dead, Héctor appears as a skeleton with his bones yellow and rusted, sans the bright gold markings on his skull. His appearance was overall unkempt - his black hair became messier, while the rest of himself was held together by things such as tape and bandages on his right arm and left leg. On his head, he wears a straw hat on his head. He also wears a torn-up indigo formal jacket with a red tie and red, black and white suspenders, and torn-up light brown and black pinstriped pants to show his skeletal knees and feet. He also gained a single gold tooth in his frontal teeth.
By the end of the film, Hector's appearance has changed to more of a clean-cut approach - his hair is straightened, his jacket has been converted to a vest, his pants have been mended, and now wears brown dress shoes, while retaining his straw hat and tie.
Role in the film
Héctor first appears trying to cross over to the Land of the Living disguised as Frida Kahlo. The agent quickly checks that he isn't recognized on his family's ofrenda, leading Héctor to make a run for it. But his hopes are in vain, as he ends up sinking into the marigold petals and is arrested. At the Grand Central Station, Héctor is left off with a warning by the officer and had his request to get his costume back denied. After leaving and angrily crumpling his warning, Héctor meets a living boy named Miguel who, having overheard that Héctor knows Ernesto de la Cruz, asks Héctor to take him to Ernesto to receive his blessing so he can go home. Héctor tells him he will get him to de la Cruz if he puts his portrait up on an ofrenda so he can cross over and Miguel agrees.
Héctor takes Miguel to Frida Kahlo's studio, where he assumed de la Cruz would be rehearsing. While being chewed out by a seamstress for losing the dress he used in his fail attempt to cross the bridge, Miguel wanders off with Dante and ends up talking to Frida Kahlo herself. Héctor soon catches up to him and receives disappointment from the boy, having just learned that de la Cruz was hosting a party at his mansion and no one was allowed in without an invitation. After being teased by a group of musicians over his death, the pair were told that there was a music contest in Plaza de la Cruz where the winner gets access to de la Cruz's mansion.
Seeing as Miguel needs a guitar, Héctor takes him to the shanty town where spirits who are being forgotten live, to acquire Chicharrón's guitar. After some banter, Héctor agrees to sing "Everyone Knows Juanita" for Chicharrón, changing one of the verses because there are children (Miguel) present. Satisfied, Chicharrón fades away. Héctor explained to Miguel that unless there's a relative in the living world who remembers their ancestor, their spirit passes onto what they call the final death, the same fate that awaits him if Miguel doesn't take his photo home.
Having succeeded in their mission to acquire an instrument, Miguel enters the contest. Héctor objects to Miguel's plan to sing "Remember Me" due to its popularity, as evidenced by other contestants rehearsing around them, so Miguel decides to sing "Un Poco Loco". But upon learning that Miguel possesses little to no experience in performing, Héctor insists that he take his place on stage but is refused, as Miguel was determined to prove himself as a musician. Héctor then decides to help Miguel be ready for his performance by giving him pointers, such as to loosen up and giving out a grito, to little avail. When it was Miguel's turn to take the stage, he gets stage fright, and Héctor reminds him of the things he taught him from afar, giving the child confidence to perform. While Miguel sings, Dante pulls Héctor in to perform alongside Miguel, receiving applause from the crowd. Then suddenly, Miguel dragged Héctor off the stage as the master of ceremonies announced to the crowd that Miguel's family was looking for him and wanted to send him home. Hearing this, Héctor realizes that Miguel lied to him about de la Cruz being his only family and that he could've gone home any time. Héctor scolds Miguel for leaving his family and attempts to bring Miguel to them, but this makes Miguel go off to find Ernesto himself.
Later, Héctor (disguised as Frida again) sneaks into his old partner's mansion and finds Miguel with Ernesto. Héctor reveals to Miguel that he wrote the songs Ernesto is famous for and reminds him of their deal. As Héctor reminds Ernesto of the heaven and earth statement, Miguel points to one of the films Ernesto brought back from one of his trips to the Land of the Living which has the same line. Watching the film, Héctor remembers his last night alive and realizes that Ernesto murdered him and stole his songbook and guitar. Enraged, Héctor attacks Ernesto for his betrayal, as Ernesto calls for security and takes Héctor's portrait while having Héctor and Miguel thrown into a cenote.
As he starts to fade, Héctor laments about his daughter, Coco - Miguel realizes that the picture he is carrying was Coco with Héctor, and they discover that Héctor is really Miguel's great-great-grandfather, not Ernesto. They rejoice the revelation and proud of being part of a family, although it seems they remain trapped in the cenote; at that second, they are discovered by Dante and saved by Imelda, Pepita, and the other Riveras. Héctor tries to talk to Imelda and tries to apologize to her but she doesn't accept even after Miguel tells her Ernesto killed Héctor when he was trying to return to her. However, he starts fading again, as Coco is in danger of forgetting about Héctor. Imelda, Miguel, and the other Riveras learn that they need to get Héctor's portrait back from Ernesto or he will be lost.
At the concert Ernesto is performing at, the Riveras get the portrait back. Héctor manages to finally reconcile with Imelda and together they prepare to give Miguel her blessing to return home, however, Ernesto interrupts the ceremony to drop Miguel from the building. Héctor tries to stop him but collapses on the verge of disappearing. Miguel is saved at the last minute by Pepita, but the photo is lost in the water. However, Ernesto's crimes are exposed to the Land of the Dead. As sunrise approaches, Héctor starts to fade away and Miguel is almost a skeleton himself. Miguel refuses to leave Héctor behind until he is forced to accept Imelda's blessing, which sends Miguel home.
Thanks to Miguel, Coco remembers Héctor through "Remember Me", thereby saving Héctor. Coco also reveals Héctor's letters he wrote to her, proving he was the true author of Ernesto's songs, along with the picture of Héctor Imelda tore from the ofrenda, restoring his place among the Rivera family. The following year, Héctor has, at last, received the recognition he deserves and has reunited with a recently deceased Coco. Together with the other Riveras, Héctor finally crosses over to the Land of the Living during Día de los Muertos, where he joins Miguel in a guitar duet using a spiritual version of his guitar.
- In terms of actual age, Héctor is a year younger than Imelda, and four years younger than Ernesto.
- Héctor is one of the six characters in the movie to be voiced by the same actor in both the English and Latin American Spanish dubs of the film, the others being Julio Rivera, the Departure Agent, the Security Guard, Tío Berto, and Luisa Rivera.
- Héctor was 21 years old when he died.
- There are some hints to Héctor's identity and death:
- The guitar taken by Ernesto has a gold tooth painted on the handle, just like Héctor's gold tooth.
- The toast he shared with Chicharrón involved him finishing his drink while Chicharrón's remained full, hinting at how Héctor was murdered by poisoned alcohol.
- Héctor claiming he died from food poisoning further alludes to his murder.
- Héctor's portrait was with him when he died, hence why his spirit owned one.
- According to his voice actor, Gael Garcia Bernal, Héctor's birthday is on November 30.
- Attributing to this, Héctor died sometime in December 1921, confirmed by the fact that he died during 1921 at 21 years of age and his birthday occurring on November 30.
- November 30 is also the birthday of Gael Garcia Bernal, Héctor's voice actor.
- In both the photograph and the flashback sequences, Héctor is not shown as having a gold crowned tooth, meaning that he got it posthumously.
- Héctor's nickname "Chorizo" stemmed from the belief that he died eating a chorizo (a spicy mexican sausage), which itself originated from Ernesto when telling a dying Héctor that he was probably suffering a stomach-ache from a chorizo.
- Deleted scenes revealed that Héctor would work as a tour bus guide in the Land of the Dead. He would avoid Ernesto's mansion as Ernesto coldly refused his service out of fear of his undoing.
- ↑ Unkrich, Lee (December 5, 2017). "1900 (reply to @amyblack1256 @leeunkrich when was Hector born? (exact date if u can, please) 😊)" (Tweet). Twitter.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Garcia Bernal, Gael (November 30, 2017). "Sure, it's Héctor's birthday too!" (Tweet). Twitter.
- ↑ Unkrich, Lee (December 5, 2017). "Hector was 18 when he had Coco. Coco was 3 - 4 when Hector left. Sorry for any previous errors." (Tweet). Twitter.
- ↑ Lema, Michelle (June 6, 2017). "Meet the Characters and Voice Cast of Disney Pixar's Coco and See the Beautiful New Poster". Oh My Disney. Disney. Retrieved on June 6, 2017.
- ↑ Unkrich, Lee (December 5, 2017). "Correction: Imelda was 19 when Coco was born. Imelda was born in 1899 (a year older than Hector!)" (Tweet). Twitter.
- ↑ Unkrich, Lee (December 3, 2017). "1896 (reply to @Aleprettycat Dear @leeunkrich , when was Ernesto de la Cruz born?" (Tweet). Twitter.
- ↑ Unkrich, Lee (December 5, 2017). "21 (reply to @EllenBecker95 Love this movie so much ♥️♥️ I have a question...what age did Héctor die? He’s so young 🤔" (Tweet). Twitter.
- ↑ Unkrich, Lee (December 3, 2017). "He had it with him when he died. 😊" (Tweet). Twitter.