|First day of filming, Josu with the sheep|
As Young Joaquin and Aitor
Josu Zubizarreta makes his acting debut in Zuretzako alongside his father, Luis. For any new actor, stepping on set for the first time is a challenge. In the midst of bright lights, make-up, and a director calling out commands, it's an accomplishment just to remember your lines. But all that's nothing compared to what Josu went through filming Zuretzako. He plays two characters - his grandfather, Joaquin, as a young man as well as Joaquin's son, Aitor. His lines are all in Basque - a language he's still learning himself. While filming, Josu found himself herding thousands of sheep down steep mountain sides, wrestling rams to the ground, running through a field of badger holes (while wearing red long-john underwear), and more. Worst of all, it was his little brother calling the shots as director. Despite the many obstacles, Josu delivers an amazing performance, never letting on that this is his first acting gig.
It's easy for an actor to "perform", to "act-like" their character. For Josu, there was no acting. Rather, he set out to understand his characters, to know them more fully, and empathize with them completely. Rather than recite his lines, he listened and reacted honestly. As Josu says, "It was a unique experience for sure. Being out in the mountains with current herders allowed me to see the sacrifices made by my family and other herders."
A former DNA Laboratory Technician, Josu is working on his Masters in Public Health from Michigan State University. He will begin medical school next fall.
For more on Josu, enjoy this article from EiTB: "Filming Also a Challenge for First-Time-Actor Josu Zubizarreta"
|Luis on set between takes.|
While his son, Josu, studied and prepared for his role with great care and focus, Luis is something of a natural when it comes to acting. Zuretzako is Luis' onscreen debut as well, where he plays his father, Joaquin. In rehearsals, Luis remarked, "I can't be my father - he was something special." Accordingly, Luis acted as himself, a father of three boys who moved to America for a better life, with hopes and expectations for his children to do great things. His ease at performing and delivery continuously surprised and impressed everyone on set, creating one great scene after another. Where Josu sought to understand Joaquin, Luis set out to showcase his father's spirit, drive, and dedication. He brings a striking and, at times, heart-wrenching sensitivity to an otherwise stern and distant character. Luis, like Joaquin, would do anything for his children. In this case, he gave an unbelievable performance for his youngest son and director, Javi Zubizarreta.
Born in Gernika, Vizcaya of the Basque Country, Luis moved to the United States in 1975. In 1981 he married his wife, Trish, and they recently celebrated their thirtieth anniversary. While Luis never herded sheep himself, he never forgets his father's work, sacrifice, and many years in the Idaho hills. Filming with real sheep flocks and current herders was a chance to reconnect with his late father and experience for himself Joaquin's journey.
An active member of the Basque community in Boise, Luis is the current champion at Mus (a Basque card game).