Thank you to Disney and Pixar Studios for hosting me during the #PixarCocoEvent.
Edward James Olmos is one of those actors who can unquestionably be called a living legend. I grew up watching him on Miami Vice, which was one of the dozens of iconic roles he has played throughout the years. Now he is the voice of Chicharrón in Pixar’s Coco.
What emotions did the film stir in him?
Thinking about my grandparents, my great-grandparents. It just conjures up the reason why we are who we are. You start to get into your memory of where you come from and who made you that way and especially with your parents. You start with them, but this was very emotional for me. Even right now thinking about it I get emotional.
How would he like to be remembered?
Amongst my family, hopefully, that they’ve shared enough time with me and that I shared enough time with them and [they] remember the times that we spent together. Just to remembered in a way that empowers them would be nice.
What does he think is the message of the film?
It’s pretty simple. The film itself is very direct in making you feel that the Day of the Dead is a very needed moment in everybody’s life. 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. That’s why I took the role. I mean, my part is a cameo, but it’s very intrinsic to the story. You really realize what happens when no one thinks of you anymore.
Does he have special memories from Day of the Dead celebrations?
It was a party. It was a celebration of life, of living, with conjuring up the understanding of those that got you there. You’re just saying thank you to them. Thanks for bringing me to this space and here we are around your, your tomb or your gravesite and we put flowers and little candles and you know, their picture and their food. I bring my dad his menudo. We just sit there and laugh and cry. There’s a lot of crying and especially the older you get. The closer you get to being in the hole, the closer you are to understanding what life really is… But that’s the reality of our life. We have to celebrate it.
What can we do to not be forgotten?
Just be happy around those that you love. Somebody asked me what I’d like to be remembered for. I’d like to remember the fact that I always try to be happy and I was always up because it’s a choice. I could have woke up this morning and said, oh, God almighty, I have to do so much of this stuff. I gotta do this, oh, God, what a day, but instead, I woke up and I said, well, I got to do all this stuff, yeah, but guess what? I woke up.
What kind of impact will the film have?
This piece of art will be around as long as any piece of art can be around. It’ll be passed on, so I’m very grateful. I play an integral part to the story, because you really realize what it is that we’re doing and what this is about… That’s what happens when people don’t think about you anymore. You disappear. And where’d he go? I don’t know. And 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… I wake up in the morning, I go, thank you and when I go to sleep, I’m grateful.
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Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” is in theaters now.