Ethan C. Dizon, was born in Los Angeles, Calif. He started acting in national commercials when he was 18-months old, and continued on with national spots for Target, Mercedes Benz and The American Egg Board. He earned his first acting role at age 6, as a recurring character in the CBS comedy series, “How I Met Your Mother.” His other television credits include guest spots on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Til Death”. Now you can see him in The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, which was produced by Alicia Keys. We sit down and talk to him about acting in general, the duality of TV and film, and more! Read below for the full Q&A…
You grew up in L.A. but ‘The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete’ was filmed in N.Y. What is the biggest difference between working in those two places?
Ethan: Well, for one the weather is very different especially in the summer. It was very hot and humid. I’m not used to rain during the summer, and it rained a lot. Also, it’s on the other side of the country and I had not been away from my family for that long (two months). It’s also crowded in the city, where LA is very spread out.
In addition, the film is primarily dealing with the African American community and the struggles of inner city youths. As an Asian, what kind of dynamic did yourself or George Tillman Jr. want with your character? What does Pete add to the film?
Ethan: George gave us some DVDs to watch and photos of what our character would look like. He wanted us to get a feel for how kids who didn’t grow up with their parents. Even though most of the people in the projects were African American, there were people of all races. There were Asians in the projects. It was real, and what I learned was that it really doesn’t matter where you’re from or your race, people are having a hard time these days. My character Pete is Mister’s sidekick, he drives him to keep fighting and he adds some humor to the film. You really pull for him because he’s so young, and you want him to be okay.
For you, is there a major difference working on a television set versus a film set?
Ethan: Not really. Acting is acting and you’re still telling a story. Being on set is really fun and I meet so many nice and talented people. You still go to wardrobe, wait in your trailer or holding area, school if session is in. Sometimes in television there are more cameras and it’s in a studio, and film sometimes moves quicker and on location. But as an actor, it’s pretty much the same. I would be happy to work in both film and television.
Did you have any particular challenges as an actor to get into the mindset to play Pete?
Ethan: Yes. Playing Pete was so much fun. He’s a lot like me, he’s quiet but asks a lot of questions. He’s smart, but in a different way. Like, he uses his smarts to survive on the streets. The biggest challenge was getting into the emotional state. His problems are much different than mine, and I just had to imagine what it would be like without my parents, family, and friends. Pete had no one. No one he could trust, and just wanted to be loved. But he’s still a kid like me.
As this is one of your first major acting roles, is this the type of characters that you want to play? Or are you also interested in comedic roles as well?
Ethan: I’ll play any type of character that I like, and if the story is good. It doesn’t really have to be a character like me, or different. If I like who he is and what he stands for and what he wants to be in life, I will play him. I really enjoy comedy because I’m naturally funny and I like to be silly. Laughing and making people laugh is cool.
Can you give us some of your favorite Asian films, or anime?
Ethan: I train in Martial Arts and I really liked Game of Death with Bruce Lee. I also train with Dan Inosanto who’s in the movie. It’s like a video game where you advance to different levels. Anime? I like BeyBlades the cartoon.
Jennifer Hudson in this film is an addict and has tattoos. She has never had a drink in her life and doesn’t have any tattoos. For the character of Pete, what kind of transformations did you have to go through that is the complete opposite of yourself in real life?
Ethan: I really just had to put myself in his situation, and imagine what it would be like to live without your parents, without family. How my Mom would treat me differently. I have a loving family and good friends, so that was hard. To be without food, and not be able to eat when I wanted to.
You are acting side by side EMMY, Golden Globe, and Academy award winning actors in this film. Did you experience any nerves or pressure going into this film? How did you deal with it?
Ethan: Not really, because they are actors just like me. I really only knew of Jordan Sparks. But I learned a lot from them and especailly George. He’s a great director and he made me and Skylan (Mister) feel comfortable from the very beginning.
What other projects do you have in the works that you can tell us about?
Ethan: You can catch me on MTV’s Awkward season 3. I play the Accountant in the Asian Mafia. It’s really a funny storyline. Also, I make an appearance in Jason Bateman’s ‘Bad Words’ that premiered at Toronto Film Festival, coming out March 2014. And I’m in a movie called ‘Get A Job’ starring Bryan Cranston, Anna Kendrick, and Miles Teller. I think it comes out next year too.
Lastly, can you offer up any advice to any young actors out there who might be struggling with their goals as an actor?
Ethan: Just to keep working hard and be the best actor you can. Study your favorite actors and work hard everyday and don’t give up. Even if you’re not booking, there’s more to it. If you’re prepared when your opportunity comes, then you will make the most of it.
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