When you get the news that you are going to be sitting in a room interviewing certain actors, the excitement builds. Truth be told, every once in a while an actor is so acclaimed, that you are in awe of the moment that is about to happen. That’s exactly what occurred when the email arrived with the announcement…we would be interviewing Edward James Olmos.
Edward James Olmos? As in Emmy award-winner, Golden Globe award-winner, and Oscar nominated actor? Yes!
And then another question popped into my head – WAIT! Edward James Olmos is in COCO?
Disclaimer: Disney*Pixar invited me to California on an all-expenses paid trip, in exchange for my coverage of events, which included an exclusive interview with COCO actor Edward James Olmos.
Introducing Edward James Olmos as Chicharron
In all the promos leading up to the red carpet premiere, I hadn’t seen this news. I knew of course, that except for John Ratzenberger, COCO had an all-Latino cast, something that Edward James Olmos would personally and professionally have supported.
But who did he play? I thought I knew most of the characters, but there were no images I could find.
Five Unforgettable Minutes
Olmos plays Chicharron, a character we meet mid-film in the Land of the Dead.
Truth be told, I’ve seen the movie twice, and though you likely won’t recall his name, Chicharron is unforgettable.
He appears in one scene, maybe for 5 minutes, but the scene is one that gave me a lump in my throat (maybe more than one). It’s a scene that leaves you wondering, long after you’ve left the theater.
This minor character sets up the rules in the Land of the Dead, so to speak. Though fiction, through him, we learn what happens when people in the Land of the Living don’t think about you anymore, don’t remember you.
Olmos said about the scene, “Well, that’s what happens when people don’t think about you anymore. You disappear. And where’d he go (referring to Chicharron)? I don’t know. It’s not about religion. Far from it. It’s not about belief in heaven and earth and all that. It’s all about just the understanding of what we conjure when we’re here. Not one of you can be here without thinking about who got you here and if you don’t do it daily, you’re missing the day and that’s really the key to just being thankful.”
Can we just stop here? Some of you may have seen COCO already (seeing that Pixar brought in an astounding $72 Million during opening Thanksgiving weekend), and I would love to know in the comments what you thought about this scene. Others of you may not have (and that’s okay because this isn’t a spoiler of any kind to the storyline).
These few moments had me hurting for Chicharron. And then I thought of my mother, who died before ever getting the chance to meet her granddaughter. I thought my of my in-laws who I never had the chance to meet. I thought of all those in my life I have loved and lost.
And it hurt.
Someday, after I’m gone, after my sister is gone, well…the lump is back in my throat.
This movie. This scene. It impacted me so much that I find myself telling even more stories about my mom, in the hopes that this little brown-eyed girl of mine will somehow know the woman who impacted her life (and changed mine).
I wasn’t the only one thinking about loved ones while watching COCO. Edward James Olmos thought about his father, his grandparents, his great-grandparents. He was so emotional that morning, it was clear, from remembering. I could relate.
One story I loved was when Olmos talked about his great-grandfather. It really resonated with me, as though my daughter never knew 3 of her grandparents, she had the blessing of knowing two of her great-grandmothers, 1 still living.
Olmos says that some wisdom that is so intense can only be given by great-grandparents. I really do believe that too, as they have had such a life behind them. He described learning about “stop signs” from his great-grandfather, as a young child. You look for the “stop signs” in life…simple things that make you stop and take things in, look around, and find life.
Olmos reflected about his role in COCO, “My part is a cameo, but it’s very intrinsic to the story.” He added, “Everybody has their own way of dealing with their past and where they come from, and each culture has their own way of doing it. And it’s wonderful when you learn about it, but this is the first time that I’ve ever seen this explained so simply.”
The day before this interview, I had walked around on the Walt Disney Studios lot, an experience that never gets old. Ever. But for the first time, I walked inside the old Animation building, where Walt Disney’s office still remains.
I noticed something as I walked the halls…
Not too far from Walt Disney’s office, sits the office for Olmos Productions.
He is an actor, a director, an activist, who is far from done with his work. And that is exciting.
It’s clear from one meeting how passionate Edward James Olmos is about his heritage and the importance of COCO to the Latino community. While his character may have been unexpected, and his time on screen short, the impact is clear.
What an honor to meet this man.
Now, let’s take a look at the final trailer of COCO…
COCO playing in theatres everywhere NOW!
MORE FROM THIS DISNEY/PIXAR/ABC PRESS TRIP:
On Making COCO – How Pixar Created a Masterpiece – Interview with Directors and Producer
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure REVIEW and Interviews!
Pixar Coco Movie Review – No Spoilers, but parents questions answered!
Hollywood Coco Premiere – My red carpet experience!
Interview with Benjamin Bratt from Coco
Interview with Gael Garcia Bernal – Hector from Coco!
Coco Toys, Books and Gift Ideas
Interview with Alanna Ubach and Anthony Gonzalez
6 Things to Know about Big Hero 6 The Series – premiering Nov 20th!
Interview – Kevin Probably Saves the World – Politics, Religion, and Jason Ritter!
Interview – Designated Survivor – Italia Ricci and more!