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Friday, February 23, 2024

Meet Paco Jimenez: Hollywood Sparkle with a Costa Rican Heart

From being an award-winning music artist to working with Robin Williams, Costa Rica’s Paco Jimenez has enjoyed a remarkably diverse and successful show business career spanning several decades and mediums. These experiences include being hired as a supervisor and composer for the Oscar-winning animated feature film Happy Feet.

On this project he worked with composer John Powell to compose a rap verse performed by Robin Williams. Paco personally trained the legendary actor and comedian, teaching him how to rap in Spanish and to speak like an urban latino. Paco has composed songs for Backstreet Boys and Nelly Furtado.

He contributed some of the most memorable alien voices in the climate change education film Odyssey 2050. Paco resides in North Hollywood California and I had the chance to catch up with him on a recent visit to Costa Rica where he manages his Jungle Warrior Recycling initiative.

Tell us a bit about your background in Costa Rica.

I grew up in San Jose and Ciudad Neilly near the border with Panama. My school in San Jose was Escuela Ricardo Jimenez Oreamuno and I attended the Colegio de Ciudad Neilly.

What was your first experience in acting and performing music and when did you realize this is what you wanted to do for a living?

In high school I performed in all kinds of music festivals and also in a little club in my town. I noticed that people liked my performances playing the guitar and singing covers when I was 15 or 16 years old.

You are a very multifaceted artist, being a musician, producer and voice actor. Which is your favorite creative medium?

Music is in my blood, but I can say that I enjoy a lot doing voices for movies and cartoons. That’s my favorite creative medium. Collaborating with great creatives and producers in studios like Sky Walker Ranch, POP studios, Warner Brothers, Trulove Post, Margarita Studios Hollywood etc. have been a very important part in understanding this art. The punctuality and professionalism I acquired through more than 20 years of recording in the industry have given me a lot of confidence when it comes to working on big productions.

Who has inspired you as an artist?

Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Steve Wonder, Queen and Cutty Ranks,Beannie Man .

You divide your time between Los Angeles and Costa Rica. What were your first steps to working in Hollywood?

I started working for Fox Kids, Telemundo and ABC in the USA. You could say I started with the right people at the right time back in the early 2000’s. I got my first job by sending a voice demo I recorded in Costa Rica and was invited to come up to LA to do a live audition. I got the job and I have worked in LA ever since. My ex-wife Dylan was my manager at that time and helped me get in touch with the big companies in LA.

Tell us about your experience working with Robin Williams on the film Happy Feet.

It was simply phenomenal and hilarious. He scared me at the beginning, but it was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my artistic life. My supervisor asked me to go into the green room to meet Robin and when I went into the room I asked jokingly, “Who is Robin Williams?” Robin laughed and that broke the ice. The next day during the recording session he grabbed my nipple and held on to it really hard while shrieking, “Give me five brands of cars!” I had no idea what he was talking about, but we had a great time together.

Recently the 10th anniversary of the Odyssey 2050 climate change film was celebrated. Any reflections on your voice work on that project and where the world is now regarding climate change?

Let’s make sure to do something for the planet and to make our lives better.

You were part of the Netflix show El Chapo. Tell us about this experience.

Being a Costa Rican man, doing the voice for young Chapo was something amazing especially because there are thousands of voice over actors in Mexico … I nailed it.

What was it like working on The Mandalorian?

Imagine a kid from the south of Costa Rica growing up in the middle of the jungle working in a super production film like Star Wars. No words can describe it.

You are very committed to giving back to Costa Rica and helping low resourced communities. Tell us about your Jungle Warriors volunteer work. Where do you want this work to go in the future?

I want to create jobs in the zone where I grew up. There are a lot of people in need and Jungle Warriors makes me feel like a better person, a better human being. Helping people out by cleaning up the planet is a great initiative that needs the attention of corporations and the public to make a change in the world.

Learn more about Jungle Warriors Recycling here

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