A conversation with Andrew Alvarez aka Chris in Percy Jackson🗡️

Recently, I had the chance to have a conversation with Andrew Alvarez who plays Chris Rodriguez in the new Percy Jackson Series! As someone who grew up with these books, getting to watch the new series so cool, and getting to chat with one of the actors was even more incredible. During our conversation at the Student Life office, Andrew spoke on what setlife and life as a U of T student was like. Read on for a recount of what our conversation. ⬇️

B: Who or what inspired you to explore acting?

Photo of a baby sitting on a rocking zebra
Andrew as a child

A: Growing up, I was very shy and it was my sister that sort of helped me break through that barrier. I remember singing Abba together. I became more of an eccentric character, performing at talent shows and Christmas shows. In the industry, Ryan Reynolds is someone I’ve always looked up to. I love his comedic style and his bluntness, and I also like to think I know him because he worked with Walker, who [plays] Percy Jackson.

Photo of a person with their arms outstretched in front of the Hollywood sign
Andrew all grown up!

B: What was it like when you found out you were cast as Chris Rodriguez?
A: I was in my Calculus class during my final year of high school and I got a message from an agent telling me to join a Zoom link. I joined the link expecting an interview with a casting director, but when I saw Rick Riordan, I thought I was going to pass out. Then I hear, “Congratulations, welcome to the PJO family”. It was just a rush of emotions. 

B: What is your favourite part about being on set?

A: Definitely the free food. There was tons of food and snacks on set and I like to think my time on set was 70% eating and 30% filming. One time, I was at the snack table, like I usually am, and I just heard people's walkie-talkies going off: “We need Andrew on set, we need Andrew on set”. And there I am, stuffing my face full of popcorn, and I just have to, like, like sprint back to set. But it was crazy.

B: What about your crewmates?!

A: Oh they definitely come in at a close second. But in all honesty, the friends I made on set are phenomenal. We still call each other quite often, we're there for each other whenever we need it if someone's feeling down, which is something I really appreciate and cherish.

B: What is your least favourite part?

Photo of a person sitting in a canoe on a lake

A: Oh, definitely the early mornings. Sometimes we had scenes that needed to be shot really early in the morning and I would wake up at, like, 3:30am, and I am definitely not a morning person. But being on set was really cool and filming took place in BC. They had actually constructed the camp in the middle of the woods, which was insane. For example, they built each of the cabins, all 20 of them.

B: Did you take anything from the set? Personally, I would have taken one of the Camp HalfBlood shirts.

A: No, I wish I got the shirt, but I just have this sword that was used as a prop, which is a good little memoir.

B: What ways do you get involved on campus?

A: I am currently a member of KPEUA (Kinesiology and Physical Education Undergraduate Association). Part of my role as the Academic Commissioner is to provide peer-to-peer support so students are more comfortable seeking advice, and I am also currently working on a research project [with] Dr. Catherine Sabiston, who is a wonderful professor, mentor, and supervisor, honestly, the best of the best.

B: I understand you also work on some research projects, any tips for students seeking research experience?

A: Research and find professors that you’re interested in, and look into their past research to see if it’s actually interesting to you. Research can be very demanding and rigorous, so you have to be passionate about it. Then, cold email them and make your email unique. You have nothing to lose, so definitely give it a shot.

B: How do you take care of your well-being and mental health as a student?

A: During my first year, I would sacrifice so much of my well-being, sleep, nutrition even, just to keep studying and keep working on projects, which definitely wasn’t healthy. During filming, I would also go back and forth between Toronto and BC (about 20 times back and forth). One thing I’ve definitely learned is how easy it is to compare yourself to others when the truth is, in the grand scheme of things, you’re on your own path; your growth will happen in due time. Your rate of learning and growth is unique to you.

B: What’s the dream?

I like stability. I like my time blocking and staying organized. I also love the arts and acting and think it's a wonderful community. But it's very unpredictable. We just came off of a seven-month strike. The general standard is always 30 auditions and then you get one role. That's a lot. So it's a lot of commitment. So I feel like I would end up choosing the more academic role and pursue medicine, but you never know what the future holds.

– Bolu

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