EXCLUSIVE: Paula Garces on ‘A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas’: “It’s going to set the bar really high”

This week, we caught up with the beautiful Paula Garces, 37-year-old Colombian star of the upcoming stoner comedy A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, in theaters November 4th. In the third film in the series, Garces’s character brings her boyfriend Harold (John Cho) home to meet her family, including her very intimidating father, played by Mexican-American actor Danny Trejo. Of course, Kal Penn comes along for the ride. Here she dishes with Latina.com about her role in the third film of the series, working with Danny Trejo and how she taught Harold some español.

Your character, Maria, has been in all three Harold and Kumar films. What is she doing in this one?

It’s a couple of years later. Harold has gotten married to the love of his life, Maria Quesadilla. And like any two friends who are very close, if one is married and the other one is still single, it puts kind of a rift in the relationship. Maria is comfortable in her marriage and she loves Harold so much, but she knows that he misses his buddy Kumar and she misses him too. So she has the bright idea of asking Kumar to come over for the holidays as a surprise and she doesn’t tell Harold about it. She’s very excited about Christmas because it’s one of her father’s favorite holidays. Danny Trejo who plays her father is obsessed with Christmas and he’s coming over to basically meet Harold and get along with him and so she wants everything to be perfect. She wants her husband to get along with his buddy again because she misses Kumar and she’s trying to have a baby. But of course, Kumar is still the single guy, stoner and he accidentally burns down the Christmas tree that my father brought all the way from home. So the adventure starts from there because they are trying to replace the Christmas tree while I’m at midnight mass with my family.

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How is it playing Danny Trejo’s daughter?

I had never met Danny Trejo before this film, but it seemed to me that all the characters he had played before the Harold and Kumar movies were criminals or badass dudes. He was just like, mean right? And so after a while it’s like ‘Damn, is he really mean? Or is he just being typecast, poor guy,’ but he is the sweetest man ever. He was very nice to me. He took me out to dinner to make sure we clicked and had a believable father-daughter thing. I think he wanted to be good in this film because it’s one of the few films that has given him a chance to show a sweet side of him. He was very cool. I loved meeting and working with Danny.

What was one of the most memorable moments working on the film?

One of my favorite moments in this third film is with John and Danny Trejo, when Harold is trying hard to impress Maria’s family and he tries to do this by speaking Spanish. Every time he opens his mouth, he speaks almost perfect Spanish and perfect accent, but he’s saying all the wrong, nastiest, raunchiest things. A lot of these jokes, John and I worked on together. I wanted to translate what the writers wanted to say, but I wanted them to translate it with words that sound like what he should be saying. John was game for it. He really wanted to sound like we had been married a while and he wanted to respect my culture by speaking Spanish. It was really cute. I love that he tried to make that work.

Why should people go see A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas?

It’s like no other 3D Christmas movie they will ever see in their entire life. There’s no other stoner film in 3D and I think it’s going to set the bar really high – no pun intended.