My Exclusive Interview With The Amazing Cast of McFarland USA
*I received an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles for the coverage of several press events for Disney and ABC. All opinions are 100% my own and we only recommend shows that are a great fit for our readers.
McFarland USA came out this weekend and is doing amazing at the box office! It has surpassed all expectations and is getting rave reviews from all directions. While I was in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with the 7 actors who played the cross-country runners in McFarland USA: Carlos Pratts, Hector Duran, Sergio Avelar, Johnny Ortiz, Rafael Martinez, Michael Aguero & Ramiro Rodriguez. I could not have imagined how changed I would be after this interview. Listening to these amazing young men speak about their experiences acting was a lot of fun, but there was something much deeper here that I did not expect; a brotherhood. Not only did these young men form bonds with each other, but they bonded with McFarland as a story. I listened to them talk about a brotherhood and a deep faith in Jesus Christ. This is not, at all, what someone expects from a ‘press junket’ in Los Angeles, but this was so much more.
As I sat and listened to these young men speak, I was entranced. I heard the word “blessed” spoken over and over. It wasn’t just from this amazing group of young men, but also from the men before them; the actual men whose real-life events inspired this amazing story. These young mean spoke of strong family values and “strict” parenting. These are things that I love to see coming out of Hollywood; real life inspirations. People who stuck to what they believe and worked hard to get where they are. Success that is earned, not given, is the most amazing feeling in the world and this movie embodies that. From the real-life story that inspired the movie to the actors who were chosen to show their story to the world. Go watch McFarland USA today, you will be happy you did!
Question: How much time do you spend with the people you portray to get to know their character?
Hector Duran: I think the whole period of us filming in McFarland, I got the opportunity to spend time with the real Johnny Sameniego, who is the character I play. He’s really a great guy. He invited me to dinner, gave me a tour of the city and just, it reflects the people of the community.
Question: Carlos, how was this movie different, because in fact, you’ve done acting in the past. How was this different for you?
Carlos Pratts: Oh, how was the movie different? I mean, doing a movie’s so different than, and Johnny can attest that, than TV shows in the sense to where it’s so fast. TV’s very fast and you have 60 pages when you shoot a pilot, so you don’t know where your character’s going to go, but when you do a movie, you have a beginning, middle and end, you know. It’s like within these 120 pages, I create my arc. You have a lot of trust in the script, and then you get to explore. I think you have a little more confidence in whatever you’re doing in the film, as opposed to TV, you just have no idea. You shoot the pilot. They tell you a little bit, and then, the scripts start going and then basically chemistry and what’s happening with the actors. Your character develops or, or dies. I will say when, when Romero started talking and everyone said awww, I did the same thing.
Question: What’s the most influential real life lesson that you took from this movie?
Ramiro Rodriguez: For me personally, throughout my high school and pretty much my whole life, I’ve been the chubby one, and in this movie, I see it a lot. They picked on me, but despite all this, it was a joke. Me and him get along, all of us get along. Yeah, they could tell me that I’m fat, but to be honest, in real life, it really did hurt me, and to see him triumph the way he did, it’s really a triumph for me also, because it proved everybody wrong. A big man could do it, but it showed me also that I could do it too.
Hector Duran: I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned throughout this film, which I already knew, but it just reinforces it even more is the idea of equality and not judging a book by its cover. As you see in the film, Kevin Costner comes into this small town, small town, and he kind of judges the book by its cover. Once you get deeper into what’s really and all the values that are there, you see that everybody’s equal. Everybody had their own opinions. The only thing that separates us is the color of our skin, so we should try to treat each other equally.
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