I’ve shared coverage for the McFarland, USA film including interviews with Kevin Costner and the real life inspirations, plus a movie review. This final coverage includes a Q&A session with the 7 young actors: Carlos Pratts, Hector Duran, Sergio Avelar, Johnny Ortiz, Rafael Martinez, Michael Aguero & Ramiro Ramirez – who play the cross country team in the film.
McFarland, USA Young Actors Interview
Q: What was it like for you all working with Kevin Costner?
A:”It was a great experience working with Kevin Costner, he’s a great legend…he’s just amazing. I feel blessed.” Michael Aguero adds “Kevin Costner has more stories than a library!” [Everyone laughs]
Q: So for the two of you (Sergio & Michael), because you are there and this is a story of your town, what is it like for you?
A: “I mean it’s truly a blessing, you know. It’s still so surreal. The town has changed for the better. There used to be a lot of crime back then, like gangsters and stuff, but it’s really coming together and being a community, how it should be.”
Q: So can you tell us a little bit about your training?
Ramiro shares that while he only had a week of training, the other actors had a month to train. Two of the boys (Sergio & Michael) are from McFarland and cross country runners already.
Q: Just out of curiosity, how much running do you guys actually do for the movie, and was all the running scenes filmed at the same time?
A: We did a lot more running than you see in the film, because in reality we trained for the whole month. And every single day we would run 5 or 6 miles as a warm up. Then when we were filming on set, the amount of takes we did and the amount of running and different angles and everything, that amounted to more than the actual 5K race that would be in the film. So I guess we ran a lot more than you think.
Q: What’s the most influential real life lesson that you took from this movie?
Ramiro: “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. And like to see [his character] triumph the way he did, it’s really a triumph for me also. He like proved everybody wrong that a big man could do it. It showed me also that I could do it too.”
Q: Michael, I think I read that you had never been to the ocean before? So how is it filming that scene?
A: “Um, it was a fun beach trip until he said, hey everyone go run in the water.” The weather was chilly and the boys were cold during those scenes.
Carlos shares a unique story about a day his little brother visits the set: “So my little brother comes on set and Kevin takes a real liking to him, you know. A 9-year old, as we all know, there’s no flood gate, you know. It’s November, like right after Thanksgiving, so everyone’s really excited about the holidays. And he’s got this DVD of Christmas at Kevin’s….there’s camels, there’s presents, they make snow for the kids. Well, my little brother looks at it, and he said Kevin, how much money do you have? [LAUGHING] And Kevin responds it’s not how much money I have, it’s about the fact that I just share with everyone else. The only reason I’m telling that story is because that person is the person that we spent 4 months with.”
These young actors have formed a brotherhood, and it was really neat to hear their experiences from the filmmaking process and how life for them has changed because of this movie.
Don’t forget McFarland, USA is now out in theaters! Will you be seeing this inspirational film?
I was invited as media to cover this press trip. All opinions are mine alone.