Interview: The Lovely Paula Garces

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I definitely agree that Latinas are making a major mark, not just in the entertainment industry, but in business as well and I think that you're definitely making your mark as well.

[Entertainment: Actress Interview]

The Black Star News's LaFonda Baker caught up recently with Paula Garces to chat about her role in A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, and other topics.

BSN: It's been 3 years since the release of the last film Harold and Kumar escape from Guatanamo Bay; what was it like teaming up with John Cho, Kal Penn, and the rest of the gang after all these years?
Paula: It's always a pleasure, I mean we all have since seen each other in between shoots and stuff, but it's always really cool to come back. I really like Harold and Kumar because it was kind of like growing up with it a little bit. When we started we were all so young and fresh faced and everyone has gone to become the adults that we are today and in our careers and personal lives. It's actually like a really cool reunion for us. We always have a lot of fun.

BSN: That's good, that's good. So what is a typical day like on set? And what was the difference filming this time versus last time?
Paula: Last time because of some schedule conflicts, I wasn't in the film that much and I was lucky enough to be invited to Amsterdam and have a whole Amsterdam trip with the boys and that was really cool and a lot of fun. But, this time around Harold and Maria are married and they're trying to have a baby and (Harold) is still trying to connect and impress my Latino family who is headed by Danny Trejo, which can be really intimidating at times. We had a lot of fun just exploring the differences in cultures and the differences in the languages and all the funny stuff that can come about being a newlywed couple.

BSN: So have you ever shot a 3-D film before?
Paul: This was my first time and when I first heard Harold and Kumar was going to be in 3-D, I was like really? Is that really necessary?  And then the 3-D geeks or 3-D guys as I call them - they were these 2 really cool techie 3-D guys (laughs), they showed me a private Harold and Kumar scene and it completely sold me. It really does add to the comedy of the film. I think the audience and the fans that have followed us from the beginning will like this added bonus (to the film).

BSN: Right, I have to admit the when I watched it, I was like "this is really cool, this is the best 3-D I've ever seen!" I don't know if they used a different type of technique or technology, but it was really, really cool.
Paula: I mean all I know is that they kept making me say "real 3-D?, so it's the REAL 3-D." That's as technical as I know!
(Both Laugh).

BSN: Yeah it felt like it, when I was watching it, I would get scared because I felt like something was going to get thrown at me; I was literally jumping when things were being thrown towards the audience.
Paula: That means you got into it and we appreciate that. (Both laugh).

BSN: As you mentioned before Danny Trejo plays your father and he's extremely intimidating and he can?t stand your husband Harold. Is Danny anything like that in real life or is he completely different?
Paula: You know what, this is the first time I've met Danny and he's a very good actor because even, though I know that It's just acting and it's not real life, I was a little intimidated. I didn't know what to expect from Danny Trejo, he's so good at being mean, at being a bad boy, at being a criminal sometimes that I was just like "oh my God what is he going to be like?" But, he is actually the total opposite, at least with me he was. He was a sweetheart. He's a very sweet man, he actually took myself and my family out to dinner and he was just really really sweet and wanted to make sure that we connected so that he could portray the best and the sweetest dad to Maria that he possibly could. He was such a sweet man and the fact that he was able to turn it around and be so mean to Harold, it just cracks me up.

BSN: I know I was really amazed when I read his back story and how he already turned his life around and then on top of that got into the entertainment business that's really impressive.
Paula: Yeah, I mean there is no doubt, I'm sure people will know this more and more about Danny that he's just a very smart, sweet guy who really does try to help others. I really got that from him when I was working with him, he's just a cool guy.

BSN: Despite all of the shenanigans in the film, I was really touched by Harold and Maria's love for each other. What were some of your favorite moments in the film?
Paula: There's so many, but I like when Harold really tries to speak his best Spanish, he really does think that he's kicking butt at it, but he just messes up and Maria has no choice but just to love him anyway and just laugh at it. And so I like those moments, only because John and I worked on those jokes together and I translated some of the stuff in Spanish for him and he was just really into it and it cracked him up personally that it just reminded me of those moments we had on set together.

BSN: Awww, that's sweet. I know that this was Todd Strauss-Schulson's directorial debut for a major feature film. What was it like working with him?
Paula: He was amazing, I had no idea until, um, until right now that this was his first film! I didn't know, I would have been more difficult on set (laughs), I would have broken him in a little bit!  He was amazing he, was definitely the captain of the ship, he had it under control, his ideas were great, he communicated with all the actors really well. I think he did a great job. Good for him, good for him! This is really cool that this was his directorial debut because he did an amazing job. I think people are going to see what an amazing director he is, he was great.

BSN:  Ok, so as a Latina actress, producer, and creator, have you personally felt any barriers breaking into Hollywood and if so, how did you overcome them?
Paula: I was lucky; I started at a very young age. I guess I was naïve or didn't know any better, but I never understood the word "no" or "you can't". So, I always thought that I could so I tried to do as much as I could. A lot of the characters I played weren't necessarily for a Latina. Basically, I was lucky enough to be seen at an audition and sometimes I even changed the director's or, the writers, or the producer's minds and they would change the character to be a Latina just because I so happen to be a Latina. I don't know, I haven't really encountered those barriers. There's a long way for Latinos, for us to go, but I definitely think we are making our mark. There's business women like Salma Hayek, JLO, and Penelope Cruz, people like that who are not only beautiful faces and beautiful women, but they also have their own businesses and command a great economic stance in the box office. I'm proud of all that and I think there is a way to go, but I think we're getting there. I think we're definitely hanging in there, making a mark and changing things.

BSN: I definitely agree, especially with your comic book character that you created Aluna. Was this a character that you created yourself? How did Aluna come about for you?
Paula: Aluna came about because my partner and I decided that we wanted to work together and we needed a strong Latina character. We both were comic book buffs and we wanted to take women from history and our ancestors. We were interested in South America. We were having such a good time creating an alter ego for myself that we realized that there were a lot of things we were interested in and we didn't even know about with our own history, as Caribbean and South American people. Yeah we're Latino, but there's different cultures within Latinos, there's such a rich history not only with the Mexican people, but with the Caribbean people and South American people that we decided to do a little research and create an all-inclusive, all powerful beautiful Latina super hero that everyone can be proud of. She's cool and she kicks butt. We started out with a comic book. She's one of the heroes on the video game Heroes of Newerth, and we're developing her into a TV show and a film.

BSN: I definitely agree that Latinas are making a major mark, not just in the entertainment industry, but in business as well and I think that you're definitely making your mark as well. I'm really impressed with Aluna and the things that you're doing and shows you're producing. I also thought you looked amazing in A Very Harold and Kamar Christmas, so kudos to you Paula.
Paula: Oh my gosh! Thank you so much that is so sweet! Thank you for mentioning Aluna, it's a project that's very dear to my heart and I worked really hard on it. And anyone in production knows that it's really hard to convince anyone to like anything you do. That really means a lot to me.

A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas just opened nationwide in theatres.

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