Call me crazy, but I love a good curmudgeon. I feel like every story needs one, because you can’t help but love the Eeyores of life. You just know that they’re like that for a reason, because they have a story to tell, because of life. Chicharrón in Coco, voiced by Edward James Olmos, is that kind of character. In an interview with Edward James Olmos, he talks about why he took this role (a cameo) and why he’s so important in helping us remember where we come from.
Thank you, Disney, for inviting and hosting me at the #PixarCocoEvent. All opinions about how Edward James Olmos rocks are my own.
The Role of Chicharrón, Voiced by James Edward Olmos
The role of Chicharrón is small, yet powerful. He is in one scene, and his character is forgotten. In the Land of the Dead in COCO, when you are forgotten, you are gone. You basically evaporate and nobody knows where you go.
James Edward Olmos: “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. I mean, you really realize what happens when no one thinks of you anymore.”
When we first meet Chicharrón in COCO, he’s a ‘Get off my lawn’ type. Annoyed that he’s being disturbed, but then you realize it’s because he’s being forgotten, and that hurts.
How Do We Avoid Being Forgotten?
So how is it that we avoid being forgotten? We don’t want to be the next Chicharrón. Edward James Olmos said, “Just be happy around those that you love.” He continues that he’s grateful for each day he’s given. I completely agree. I think that’s why I live life the way I do. I love adventures, travel, new experiences, but that’s me. That’s what makes me happy. I don’t know what the next day will hold, but I, too, just want to make memories with my loved ones.
Who We Are
When I was in college, I studied a lot about the nature vs. nurture theory and how we become who we are. Edward James Olmos talked a lot about his family and the relationships with parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. He also talked about why COCO made him so emotional.
Edward James Olmos: “Thinking about my grandparents and my great-grandparents 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.”
I couldn’t agree more. I think about the relationship my daughters have with their grandparents. They offer them something I never could. It’s a different bond, yet one that is extremely important. That is why I have always chosen to live by family, and I’m grateful I’ve been able to have the opportunity to make that choice. My mother lives for her grandchildren, and strives to make the effort to be in each one of their lives. She makes sure they all know they are special to her. She provides patience and love that I’m still learning. My mother ensures she will not be forgotten.
Remembering Where We Come From
Edward James Olmos was dropping all kinds of truth bombs during the interview. He is an actor with an impressive resume, including Miami Vice and my favorite, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Oh yeah, and he was nominated for an Academy Award. However, it was still important for him to be a part of COCO.
Edward James Olmos: “For us to be at this level right now and be able to sit here and be happy about something that touches every single person no matter where you come from, what your roots are. All it does it makes you think about where you come from and who you are. Without being able to understand, you know, where you come from, it’s really hard for you to be here. You’re constantly wondering.”
Thank you, Chicharrón, for teaching us that everyone matters. Our families, our friends, the curmudgeons, the Eeyores, the popular, the forgotten, the old, the young. Everyone matters. Let’s remember them.
COCO is in theaters now! Don’t miss it!