The Internship premieres June 7th
Stars Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson—the hilarious duo meet their match in genius villainous character played by Harvey Guillen
He sings, dances, acts and he is an outstanding comedian. Move over George Lopez!
By Elia Esparza
What happens when a pair of seasoned salesmen careers has been torpedoed by the fast moving digital world? Trying to prove they are not obsolete, like so many of us can relate to, means having to defy the odds by taking matters into our own hands. Which is exactly what Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) did… they defy the odds by talking their way into a coveted internship at Google.
Getting past the front door of this utopia was the easy part. Keeping up with a battalion of brilliant college students… well, let’s just say they’ve met their match. They are all competing for the ultimate prize: a job!
One of those elite, tech-savvy geniuses happens to be Los Angeles-born actor Harvey Guillen, who is living out an actor’s dream with a major role in a big studio feature film.
We caught up with Harvey and what a personality he is! More charming than a young Ricardo Montalban, funny like the Mexican comedian Cantinflas from yesteryears, and more talent than he knows what to do with!
Harvey has worked hard to train and work as an actor since the tender age of six. No kidding, he recycled cans and bottles after school and saved money for his first acting class. We caught up with him recently where he opened up about his career and being a Latino working in Hollywood.
Latin Heat: Your name, Harvey Guillen… how do you pronounce your last name and is Harvey short for Javier?
Harvey Guillen: Guillen is “Gee-Yen” and my birth name is Javier but I grew up in an Anglo community and teachers couldn’t pronounce my name. So I became Harvey.
LH: Where did you grow up?
HG: I was born Orange County, lived in Santa Ana but we moved a lot when I was young… lived in El Monte, Las Vegas, San Gabriel… we just were a traveling circle.
LH: Congrats on your role in Internship — how crazy was it to work with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson?
HG: Those guys are so much fun! Total professionals. Owen is very laid back… and Vince talks a mile a minute. He’d walk into the lobby of the Ritz with his dog Garcia. That’s Owen. Vince is a major multi-tasker. He’s acting in the film but also wrote the script and is one of the producers. I remember watching Wedding Crashers and thinking how much fun it would be to work with them… so it’s a dream come true.
LH: Tell us about your Internship role.
HG: I play Zach Ryan who is in his last year at Harvard. He’s a genius… but not socially aware, he doesn’t know how to talk to people… A mama’s boy… she still picks out his clothes… high wasted pleated jean shorts, with a dated 1988 look. She still thinks it’s la moda (the hip young clothes of today!) She dresses me in short flannel colored shirts and prescription shoes. Zach Ryan is a total nerd.
I’m the sidekick and assistant to the villain Max who is team leader of the Google interns… we’re all in our early 20’s and everyone but Zach look like runway models. They are pretty and smart. Zach is just smart. Vince and Owen are also part of the program… and together make for a pretty funny ensemble. Max bullies me until the end and I fight back. Vaughn and Wilson’s characters help me get my revenge, which hels Zach grow a backbone. You have to watch the film! You’ll remember the ending.
LH: What did you learn from working with funny veterans like Vaughn and Wilson? Or did they learn something from you?
HG: I’m a people watcher and I watched Vince and Owen closely… they are totally different off camera. Vince is a good businessman (he was producing, multi tasking off set) and he was working here yet had his hand on other projects. I learned that multitasking is a great thing. And, Owen is so nice to be around. Every crewmember walked away saying, ‘you know who was a good guy to work with?’ and they’d be pointing to Owen.
That’s the type of actor I want to be… One where the crews walk away and think it was great working with me. There is no need to have an ego on set and in being mean. As an actor, you should enjoy every moment because it is a privilege to be working. You’re not going to be a hot diva/divo forever… and if you’re mean, people will remember and not hire you anymore.
LH: Tell us about your casting in The Internship.
HG: It was last summer. I was in New Orleans… when I got the call to put myself on tape for a new role they wrote. I had auditioned earlier that year in Los Angeles for a different role in the movie (Kassem G. helped me put myself down on tape). At the time, I was working on the indie film Aztec Warrior when the call came in. Literally, two hours wrapping Aztec Warriors, I was on a plane to Atlanta to work on The Internship.
LH: You represent the best of the Latino community… and your focus on overweight children and adults is truly inspiring. What is your main message you tell kids who are overweight?
HG: I tell them that growing up I was a fluffy kid… the gordito (chubby kid). I want to immediately let them know I was one of them. I think that some people pick on gorditos because it’s a visual and easy to target. But, I had a positive upbringing… my parents always told me you are what you are and to own it. I remember an Asian boy telling me ‘You’re full of confidence, I wish I were like you.’ And, I wondered why he didn’t have confidence. I thought everyone had it. For a big guy, I still work out, go to gym but it’s being comfortable in your body that counts.
LH: On ABC Family Channel you starred in Huge, a sitcom set on a weight loss camp, was this hard for you personally especially since there is so much bullying against chubby kids?
HG: I played Alastair and was only supposed to be on for six episodes but was voted most popular by the viewing audience and so the producers kept him. Teenagers are trying to find out what or who they are. Their bodies are changing along with emotions, and that’s how I played Alastair… everyone can relate to that.
Everyone has issues: I’m too short, too tall, too skinny, and too fat… I played him a little bit quirky, a different race and emotion was driving my character. One of the most rewarding things that happened to me on this show was when I got a letter from a boy from the Midwest who said, ‘ I was literally about to kill myself. You made me think that it’s OK to be who I am and this town isn’t for me forever.’
LH: Growing up in a large Latino family (10 kids), did you experience any teasing and bullying from your siblings or classmates?
HG: I’m the second oldest of the five youngest siblings. By the time I came around, the older five were grown up and gone. I took care of my younger brother and sisters and got a little teasing from one brother but no matter what, it is bullying. In the Latino community it’s become acceptable form of endearment teasing someone of being chubby, a gordito. But it’s not joking, it’s bullying. It’s still a knife that cuts and leaves scars.
My brother who teased me is eight years older than me, an age difference that did divide us, but now we can talk about it. It’s OK. As I became the oldest, I kind of became a parent to my little siblings… sometimes they come to me with their problems. They call me when they need a life saver… I do have one rule, however: ‘I’ll help you once but the second time, I’m telling mom and dad.’
LH: What advise do you give to other young kids who want to jump into acting the way you did.
HG: If you really want to do something there is nothing that can get in your way. It’s all about grit and tenacity. At the end of the day, you can have an amazing voice, body, acting chops but if you don’t have the grit and tenacity, then you’re wasting your talent. You have to have passion. Otherwise don’t do it.
Thank you, Harvey!
Stay tuned for another interview with Harvey Gillen about working on the indie Aztec Warrior, a role he took because cast as his mother was Lupe Ontiveros, his childhood idol. He talks about his young entrepreneurial skills and acting passion.
The Internship in theaters on June 7th.
Follow Harvey on Twitter: @HarveyGuillen