McFarland, USA came out this weekend with a bang and surpasses our expectations in the box office! But with as inspiring as the movie is the cast behind it is just as inspiring. While I was in LA a few weeks ago I got to sit down with Kevin Costner, Director Niki Caro, the real inspiration behind the movie & the 7 young men who brought the inspiration to life on the big screen. Those 7 young men Carlos Pratts, Hector Duran, Sergio Avelar, Johnny Ortiz, Rafael Martinez, Michael Aguero & Rodrigo Ramirez, were so fun to listen to. They talked about many things, but I think the thing that touch me the most was the brotherhood and the bonds that you could clearly see formed just like a real cross-country team does. Staring across Kevin Costner isn’t an easy task but these boys clearly held their own in this inspiring movie.
Your first question might be a little like ours…what was it like working with Kevin Costner? The boys had some great answers…
It was a great experience, he’s a great legend, such a humble guy. – Group
He was more stories that a library, I swear. – Michael Aguero
While a few of the boys only had very little time to spend with their inspiration, Romero, Sergio & Michael are all from McFarland and grew up with the real inspiration as their coaches, councilors and teachers. While two of them (Michael & Sergio) are actually runners for McFarland and another (Romero) is a champion Soccer player for McFarland..when it came down to it they only had one month to “train” for their roles, however, they did do more running while filming then you see in the movie.
While the other boys had never acted before Carlos & Johnny have acted in other roles..Carlos states that making a movie is different from TV in that TV moves so much faster so you must have faith in the script, where a movie you get to take your time and have more confidence in what you are doing.
Carlos Pratts Taking Direction from Director Niki Caro | Photo: Disney
Q: What’s the most influential real life lesson that you took from this movie?
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. – Rodrigo Ramirez
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. – Hector Duran
Even after the filming they all keep in touch and it’s more like a brotherhood now with “Hector as the little brother”. The chemistry that you see on-screen is the way it is in real life…
We love each other as brothers and we, we never lost that connection. When they said cut, it was still there.
What’s next for these boys? There “doors are open” to whatever life brings their way.
I hope, if you haven’t already, you go check out these amazing young men in McFarland, USA. It really is the little movie that could, far surpassing everyone’s expectations!
Follow the Boys on Twitter:
Ramiro Rodriguez @Ramiroo_17
Sergio Avelar @sjravelar
Rafael Martinez @koolaidrafa
Johnny Ortiz @MrJohnnyOrtiz
Hector Duran @hector_duran11
Carlos Pratts @carlospratts