Why You Must See McFarland USA

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A sports movie.  Yes, McFarland USA is a sports movie.  So, you know the plot.  But what you don’t know is the story.

The movie is based off the the real story of Coach Jim White.  After having some troubles of his own, White ends up with his family in the largely Hispanic community of McFarland.  He quickly realizes the the high school students can run – really, really fast. So he sets off to create a state-championship team.

What he gets – and what the audience gets – is much more.  McFarland USA is a meaningful, inspirational piece of art.

Everyone has a story of being mistreated, misunderstood or discounted.  Whether your generation or the generations before you, every family has struggled at some point to put food on the table.  McFarland takes the stories and  wraps them together to create a masterful piece on the value of hard work, family and dedication to your community.  You’ll be laughing, cheering, crying and on the edge of your seat.

My biggest regret as I walked out of the theater was that I hadn’t taken my tween daughter. Please, please plan on seeing McFarland with your tweens and teens.

Kevin Costner and Carlos Pratts
Kevin Costner and Carlos Pratts as Coach Jim White and Thomas Valles in McFarland USA

Interview with Carlos Pratts (Thomas) and Hector Duran (Johnny)

Are there any similarities between you and the characters you play in McFarland USA?

Hector Duran: My character, Johnny, and I are very similar.  We like to joke around and laugh but at the same time we’re small and have big hearts.

Carlos Pratts: My mom was a single mom and I got a Jim White in my life in the form of my stepfather.  Much like my character, I didn’t really like my step dad in the beginning.  But, my stepfather is an amazing man and I’m just thankful to have him.  A lot of things I see in the movie, I see in my family.

How do you feel about being part of a film that puts the spotlight on Latinos? 

Hector Duran: This is a great honor for me because it’s showing Latinos in a positive light.

Carlos Pratts: I’m honored to be part of this film because it’s talking about our parents and all that they’ve gone through.  It’s not just about Latinos, it’s about every culture struggling to give their children the best that they can.

What was it like working with Kevin Costner?

Hector Duran: He is such a humble guy.  You can’t explain it until you get to know him.

Carlos Pratts: He’s amazing.  We really have Kevin Costner to thank for McFarland USA.  If he didn’t want to be part of this film, I don’t think it would of been made.

Any interesting Kevin Costner stories?

Carlos Pratts: My nine-year old brother would hang around the set and Kevin took an instant liking to him.  It was around Christmas time and Kevin started showing him a video of his yearly gathering at his home for all of the children in the community.  There were snow machines, endless amounts of food..and I think I saw camels.  So, my little brother turns to Kevin and says, “How much money do you have?”  Kevin responds with, “It’s not about how much money I have, it’s about getting to share it with everyone else.”

Katherine Doble with the Carlos Pratts and Hector Duran
Katherine Doble (me!) with Hector Duran, Carlos Pratts and members of the media

Did you run cross country or track before the filming McFarland USA?  And how did you prepare for all the running?

Hector Duran: I ran my first half marathon when I was eleven but I had gotten out of shape before filming this.  We trained for an entire month before hand.  I think for me it was easier because I already had the mental conditioning.

Carlos Pratts:  The running was an physical and emotional challenge.  I had to prepare myself mentally to get into each of them but at the end of the day, I’m doing what I love.

Did you get a chance to experience field work first hand?

Carlos Pratts: Yes. You get a completely new appreciation when you get out into the fields.  Hector even cut his hand while we were out there.

Hector Duran: Yeah, you know working in the fields is very difficult and the people that do this day-in and day-out deserve so much recognition.

McFarland USA opens in theaters Friday, February 20th and is rated PG.



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