Alumnus, Lecturer Carazo Has Role in New Will Ferrell Film “Casa de Mi Padre”

2003 graduate says teaching acting “makes me a better actor”

Theater department lecturer and actor Louis Carazo.

Luis Carazo, a 2003 graduate of UCR and a lecturer in the Department of Theater, has a role in the new film Casa de Mi Padre.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — University of California, Riverside students who go to the movie theater to see the new Will Ferrell comedy Casa de Mi Padre might see another familiar face up on the big screen as well. Louis Carazo, a 2003 UCR graduate and theater department lecturer appears in the lampoon of Spanish-language telanovelas.

Casa de Mi Padre, which opens nationwide on March 16, is a spoof of 1970-style Mexican soap operas. Ferrell, star of films including Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Old School, plays Armando Alvarez the son of a Mexican rancher who must save his family’s ranch from a Mexican drug lord. The film also stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Genesis Rodriguez and is directed by Matt Piedmont.

Carazo plays Ferrell’s father, Miguel Ernesto, during a flashback sequence. And while he doesn’t appear on screen with the comedy star, they did interact during the 24-day shoot.

“That’s the big question that everyone wants to know. ‘How is he?’ Did you get to meet him?’” Carazo said. “He was there on set and we interacted a little bit. He came up to me when I was rehearsing my scene and introduced himself, and we chit-chatted when the opportunity presented itself. He was very nice, very easy going. A little bit more reserved than you might expect from such a high caliber comedian.”

When he first read the script, he didn’t know the film was a comedy, nor that Ferrell was the star.

“At the audition, they told me it was a comedy,” he said. “Then, a little later my agent called and said ‘They really like you for that Will Ferrell movie,’ and I asked ‘What are you talking about?’ That’s when I found out.”

What is most noteworthy about the film is that the dialog is in Spanish, with English subtitles. Carazo said that the “atmosphere was great,” with Ferrell setting the tone by taking his role seriously. As the only non-native Spanish speaker in the cast, he focused on his pronunciation and accent to ensure that it didn’t overshadow the true comic aspects of the film.

“His attention was definitely on the work, considering that he was the lead in a movie that is in a language that he does not speak,” Carazo said. “I think he definitely approached it with integrity and do it justice. He didn’t want the comedy to be him making fun of the Spanish language.”

Carazo earned his MFA in acting from UC Irvine in 2007 where he also discovered a love for teaching. He returned to UCR as a lecturer in 2009.

Carazo and some of his students from the Theater 10 class

Louis Carazo and some of his students from the Winter '12 Introduction to Acting class (Theater 10) show their "acting" skills for the camera.

“I think I am a better actor when I am teaching,” he said. “It puts me in a position to really own my actor’s process and to make sense of it.”

While Carazo has a resume that includes television appearances on Medium and The Unit, as well as several film and stage credits, he knows that this role will give him new credibility in the eyes of his students, many of whom check out his Internet Movie Database (IMDB) profile before the first day of class.

“The students tell me that they look me up online. They want to know what I’ve done,” he said. “So it definitely adds credibility and helps build the bridge because I can bring this real world experience into the classroom.”

He also was able to bring Piedmont to his class to talk about directing. In a visit during fall quarter, Piedmont explained his style behind the camera – shooting scenes quickly with a minimal amount of rehearsal.

“He said he liked it when actors are on their toes and aren’t completely relaxed,” Carazo recalled. “He wants them a little bit scared.”

His appearance has also opened doors for him in Hollywood.

“I am having the busiest pilot season since I have been out here, and some of it is because of this movie,” he said. “My agents have a little more ammunition when they are pitching me. So I have gone in for some really high-profile things. So it is helping me get seen and helping me get into some doors that I wasn’t able to get into a year ago.”

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