MF: Have your eating habits changed since watching this film?
Wilmer Valderrama: We were raised in South America and we were used to our parents cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner so we didn’t have any fast food growing up. Then, we were introduced to fast food for the first time when I first came to America when I was 14 years old. That’s the first time I saw what a burger looked like. Obviously, I fell into it at the beginning like everyone else. It was quick, it was cheap. I was playing a lot of sports and I started feeling sleepy. The first 10 minutes were heavenly and then after that you start feeling like crap. I decided to stop for my sports sake, but not for any other reason — I just knew (after eating) it felt kinda heavy on me.
And then later during this movie I understood that there were certain chemicals added to the meat that weren’t meant to be digested by humans, that slowed a person down. And I have a whole new level of respect for where I get the meat I eat.
MF: What are some of your favorite foods?
WV: I’ve actually become a huge sushi eater because we’re all desperately trying to stay in shape. I haven’t eaten fast food in a long time. Once in a while, I go to my mom’s house for that home cooked meal — pasta or paella that she does. Those are cool, natural things for you that are fattening as they are!
MF: Did you read the book, “Fast Food Nation” before you read the script for this film?
WV: I was aware of the book because all my friends had read it. But as I grew more familiar with the concept, I had a whole new appreciation for it. It became super rewarding to be a part of this.
MF: How did you deal with the theme of Mexican immigrants working for very low salaries at these meat factories in the U.S.?
WV: You are talking about almost disposable humans. These are people they are bringing in and they work and work and work and eventually they start taking drugs so they can last a few hours longer so they can make more money, then after they are no good, it’s ‘OK, where is the next set of fresh illegal immigrants coming in.’
Right away they are exposed to it as soon as they cross the border. So it is really a matter of educating them, so they understand the ramifications of what they are eating.
I talked to the workers working at the slaughterhouse — they are just happy to have a job, so they can raise their family as best as they can.
MF: Do you think young guys feel like they can eat just about anything?
WV: The problem is that maybe that is true in the short term, but in the long term, there are artery problems and other heart issues. Nobody realizes how that happens — but I think if we can change our habits when we are young, it will make a big difference as we get older.
MF: How was it shooting at the slaughterhouse?
WV:People were asking us if we were ready for those scenes… But I grew up in Venezuela in the agriculture business and I saw cows slaughtered manually, which is a lot more honorable than like a car factory. I was not expecting to come in and see a cow being slaughtered and packaged in 60 seconds, it’s basically a car factory but with cows. And seeing humans become part of this perfect machine; all of a sudden the machine and the humans were one. You can’t put imperfect human beings running a perfect machine, expecting to meet a quota without making mistakes.
MF: How was your own experience immigrating to the U.S. with a visa and a passport? (Versus coming over illegally)
VM: I was lucky in the sense that legally I was stable, but the struggle was the same. I was poor in any case. I think it is a very universal problem. We came here to work and we had a house, a two-bedroom house for the five of us and that was our reality. A citizenship doesn’t give you money. None of us knew what welfare was so we didn’t even claim welfare. We didn’t claim anything. We just worked it out.
MF: On the set of Yo Mama! do you have healthy food on set?
WV: Oh yes! I keep veggies, fruits, natural sugars and organic snacks on hand. I don’t allow any junk food because I can’t afford for my crew to be slowing down either.
MF: What do you do to stay in shape?
WV: I box a lot and play soccer!