It’s not the first time that comedian George Lopez has had to work with spare parts.
The 53-year-old actor whose most recent role, Fredi Cameron in the film Spare Parts, led him to the forefront of coaching a tight-for-cash high school engineering club, opened up to Press Pass Latino about his early days as a regular neighborhood “Macgyver”.
“This film took me back to the times when I would use a piece of this and some wire to do that,” said Lopez.
“I remember one time when my grandma said ‘hey, how did the dog get in the front yard?’ and I said ‘I don’t know’ so she told me ‘go lock the door’ and I told her ‘we don’t have a lock’ so she said ‘make a lock!”
Lopez remembers going to his closet and reaching for a wire hanger.
“I grabbed it and twisted it almost like a ghetto clown,” he said motioning with his hands. Story short, the dog never got out again.
Lopez applied those off-screen skills for his portrayal of Carl Hayden Community High School teacher, Fredi “Camarón”, as his students affectionately refer to his character in Spare Parts.
The movie, based on the true life adventure of four undocumented Latino high school students living in Arizona, follows the story of the boy’s path to success at a NASA-sponsored robotics competition in California.
Lopez’s character, an amalgam of high school teachers Fredi Lavjardi and Allan Camaron, serves as the mentor and coach that leads the robotics club to an outstanding performance at the competition.
“I talked to both teachers,” said Lopez. “And they’re both very different teachers by the way, and they both have a high intelligence clearly but I think what I lacked in matching their intelligence was the connection that I made with the teachers in that I was actually there for the kids.”
Though Lopez hasn’t taught in real life, he jokes that in the future he could see himself teaching a comedy driving school. He says his experience playing teachers in the past, in 2002 film “Real Women Have Curves” alongside America Ferrara and in the more recent FX series “Saint George” have well prepared him for a teaching job.
He does admit, however, that learning the proper engineering terms for the part was a bit of a challenge.
“You know, you say them so much that I’m like ‘I don’t know what the hell this means’,” he said. “And I would say ‘Am I saying it, at least, like I know what I’m saying?’ and they would say ‘Oh yeah!’”
Lopez’s next project might include a big screen collaboration with another famous Latino comedian, Instructions Not Included star Eugenio Derbez.