Erick Chavarria – (We Brought A Zoo – 2011).

I recently got the chance to talk to Erick Chavarria about his role in Matt Damon’s new film, ‘We Brought A Zoo’. Here, Erick talks about how he believes ‘Zoo’ is different and unique and which three people he would invite to dinner…

Hey Erick. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘We Brought A Zoo’.

Hi Matt, thank you.

What’s the general plotline surrounding the film? I understand it’s based on the autobiography of a British journalist, Benjamin Mee…

Yes, it’s based on Benjamin Mee’s autobiography, and it his story about buying a house with lots of rooms that just happens to have 220 wild animals in its backyard as a sort of private zoo. To me it’s a story about accepting the loss of someone who is very much a big part of yourself, an imperative part of you, and also an exploration of powerful and often troubled relationships between fathers and sons. Anyway, that’s what ‘Zoo’ is to me, hahaha…..I’m sure different people get something different out of it.

Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…

I play Duncan Mee’s co-worker and friend. Duncan is Benjamin’s older brother who is played by Thomas Haden Church. My character’s name is Ernesto and he is a tax accountant at H&R Block. That’s the closest I’ll ever get to doing my own taxes…hahaha.

How did you get involved in the project in the first place?

I was invited to audition by Cameron Crowe’s casting director, the wonderful Gail Levin after she saw me on HBO’s ‘Eastbound & Down’ the show I’m currently appearing on.

How would you say this film is different and unique? Had you read the autobiography before you signed on?

I love the raw emotion of it combined with great humour. It’s an amazing story that most people will connect with. I was crying my eyes out when I first saw it, and a lot of the people around me in the theatre were crying as well, so prepare some tissues when you watch it.  And no, I had not read the autobiography beforehand, but I didn’t need to, I would be on any project Cameron Crowe invited me to be in.  I’m a huge fan, ‘Almost Famous’ is one of my favorite movies ever.

The film stars Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones and Angus Macfadyen – with Cameron Crowe onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?

It was amazing! Everyone was just lovely and kind. I’m a huge Damon fan so I was thrilled to just be in the same room with him.
Let’s talk a bit about you Erick. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?

Ah, that’s a really good question. I suppose I’m just crazy enough to think that little me could be in the movies. I’ve always been in love with acting and I don’t know yet if this was a smart move, but here I am.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?

Well I can only speak as an actor and to those wanting to pursue acting I’d say prepare yourself craft wise. Make sure you have good training and that you truly love acting, because even with those two factors in place it is incredibly difficult to survive in this industry, I’d say that without them it would be nearly impossible to build a sustainable career.

You’ve been in a number of different films and TV series – who have been your favourite actors/actresses to work with so far and why? 

Oh lord, umm let me see… I was very honoured to work with Lily Tomlin, she is just so professional and such a sweet human being. I did a promo with Danny Trejo and you know how he always plays those mean characters? Well he is the opposite of that, nice, polite, generous, just a wonderful person to work with. And of course everybody from ‘Eastbound & Down’, from Danny McBride to Steve Little, Jody, David, the most down–to-earth people I’ve ever worked with in and outside of Hollywood, just refreshing people.

What is currently on your I-Pod?

My what? Hahaha! I don’t have an I-Pod! I know, I know I’m probably the only person who doesn’t but I just listen to Pandora on my Android phone. It’s cheaper and I love not knowing which song is next. Right now along with the entire world I’m in love with Adele.

If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

  • Meryl Streep – she is my favorite actor.
  • William Shakespeare – it would be interesting to see how drunk he’d get during the dinner.
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I have so many questions about ‘One Hundred Years Of Solitude’.

What is your favourite word?


What’s coming up for you in 2012?

I have an episode of ‘Southland’ airing in March. I start shooting a movie with a director friend in late April, and after that I don’t know, that’s one of the perks of being actor, not knowing too far into the future.

Thanks for the interview!


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