When I walked into the theater to see Jon Favreau’s newest film, Chef, I had no idea what to expect. My dad, who recommended it, told me that it was similar in style to one of my favorite movies of 2013, The Way Way Back, but that the plot was something wholly unique. So I have to admit that I was a little nervous, afraid of being let down by my Way Way Back expectations.
I shouldn’t have worried, because Chef doesn’t need any comparisons to express how incredible it is on its own. Within minutes, the outside world ceased to exist as the cast and crew drew me into the simple, but powerful storyline.
Favreau plays Carl Casper, a chef whose young son, Percy, introduces him to social media, just in time for him to inadvertently start a Twitter war with a food critic who has recently slammed him with a terrible review. As this escalates, Carl ends up leaving his restaurant job, and becomes unemployed when his public outburst also goes viral, as no other restaurants will hire him. The ensuing story is about his attempts to open a food truck selling Cuban sandwiches, and to get back to what really matters to him – creating delicious masterpieces for the masses.
And boy, is the food footage in this film a masterpiece in and of itself. I’m talking mouth-watering, hunger-pang inducing shots of gourmet food, moist brisket, buttery sandwiches, and everything in between. A good friend of mine got so hungry watching Chef that he ordered a pizza and had it delivered to the back door of his empty theater.
And that’s one of the real problems Chef faces. Despite being an award darling – it took an audience choice award for Best Narrative at the Tribeca Film Festival and received accolades at South by Southwest, where it premiered – not many people actually know about the film, and it hasn’t been met with the success it deserves at the box office. Many people simply haven’t heard of it because of its limited theatrical release, but it’s probably showing at a theater near you, and at Latin é we’re about to give you even more reasons to buy a ticket.
With an all-star cast including Scarlett Johansson, Sophia Vergara, Jon Favreau, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert Downey Jr., just to name a few, the characters in the film are all on-point. But the one who steals the show is Emjay Anthony, the actor who plays Carl’s son, Percy, who plays the part with plenty of heart and charisma. I was psyched to get a chance to talk to him about his role in the film, as well as his upcoming projects, and I’m happy to be bringing you an inside look that is sure to make you want to see the film.
é: Talk to me a little about being cast in Chef? Did you audition? Were you nervous?
Emjay: Um, no, it was kind of just like every other normal auction. Then I got a call-back – they liked me – and then I got it.
é: I’m not surprised they liked you. Your character Percy basically saves the day through social media. Are you as into it as he is?
Emjay: Well I was actually forced into twitter; I had to take photos for the movie.
é: I actually can’t understand Twitter at all.
Emjay: Neither can I – I’m awful at it. All I know is how to reply to people.
Emjay: It’s so hard- there this thing called a timeline, and I have no idea what that is.
é: (laughing) It’s good to know I’m not alone. What was being on set like? Can you walk me through a typical day?
Emjay: Waking up around 6, getting picked up by the shuttle, hitting on Sophia Vergara, working a little bit, hitting on Sophia Vergara. (laughing) She is awesome. She has the best accent.
é: She really does. I wish I had a great accent like that.
Emjay: Do you want to hear my impression of hers?
é: Sure. “At this point, he did a spot-on impersonation of Vergara, which made it clear how much he loved working with her.”
é: Wow, that was amazing. I almost thought she was really here. If you ever decide to quit acting, I think you could find work as an impressionist. Now, I have to know: What was your favorite scene in the film?
Emjay: That’s a tough one. Either the roller coaster, or eating the brisket. Oh my gosh, you have not lived until you have had Franklin Barbecue. It is… it’s unbelievable. I can’t – it melts in your mouth. It’s all crispy in the middle; it’s not all gooey – it’s perfect. My mouth is watering just talking about.
é: So am I. I’m from Texas, so I’ll have to drive down to Austin when I’m home next time and get some for myself. You obviously love food
Emjay: Oh, yeah, I’m a total foodie.
é: What else do you like to do when you aren’t filming
Emjay: I like to spend time outside. I like to just play with my friends, go airsofting with my dad…
é: I have to interrupt you for a second because I have no idea what airsofting is.
Emjay: It’s kind of like paintball, but it’s more realistic. I just got like a brand new gun – it’s almost as big as me.
é: That sounds pretty lethal, which is actually in line with what’s coming next for you. I heard you’re slated to be in the next Divergent film, which has a lot of fighting in it.
Emjay: Yeah, I play Hector in Insurgent. It’s not really a big role, but I got super lucky to be in it. And I got to meet Theo James, Shailene Woodley, and Ansel Elgort. I got a video for my cousin, who is obsessed with Ansel, saying “What’s up?” to her. Ansel is such a great guy; they all are.
é: Ever since I saw them in The Fault in Our Stars, I’ve been obsessed with Ansel and Shailene; it’s good to hear they’re as cool in real life as they seem.
Emjay: Oh, yeah, they’re the best.
é: What advice would you give other kids who want to get into acting?
Emjay: That’s hard – I don’t know – probably, just never give up. Don’t worry if you don’t get the part. Or if you get rejected. Like Ansel, he got that one part in The Fault in Our Stars and it just launched his career.
é: Well, Emjay, I have a feeling that’s what Chef is doing for you. You were amazing, and I thought you held your own on screen with all those pros. You stole the show, really.
Emjay: Really? You thought so?
é: You were my favorite part of the film.
Emjay: Oh, wow, thank you so much.
é: No problem, this has been great, but I want to leave with one last question. Do you have anything you’d like to tell your fans about yourself, just for fun?
Emjay: Hmm. This is kind of weird – I’m a dork when it comes to this. I love video games. All of my fans should know that I don’t like Xbox. I’m a big PlayStation guy. I also love steak – I love dinner for breakfast, because I don’t like breakfast foods.
é: (laughing) Good to know. Thank you so much, Emjay, this has been a pleasure.
Emjay: Thank you!
There you have it, Folks, Emjay Anthony is as charming and down-to-earth in real life as his big screen counterpart. Check him out in Chef at your local theater by finding showtimes here.