Grad Christian Labarta on the Summer Comedy ‘Chef’

Catching a minute with Christian Labarta isn’t always easy. The 1999 Film graduate rarely stops – having worked tirelessly for over a decade and a half as a set production assistant and assistant director on countless big name projects.

Christian has been no stranger to the summer movie season during that time, with credits on blockbusters stretching back to War of the Worlds and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull up through 2013 hits like Star Trek: Into Darkness and Iron Man 3.

Today sees his most recent summer film arrive theaters – Chef, an original comedy written and directed by Jon Favreau. Favreau also leads the cast, which includes such talent as Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert Downey, Jr. Having recently wrapped work on two other upcoming releases, Christian was able to take a short break to share his experience contributing as set production assistant alongside Chef‘s enviable roll call of actors.

Chef was a really nice experience for me, it was my first time working with Jon Favreau, and the whole cast was very good,” he says. “I already knew Robert Downey from working on Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Iron Man 3, and the rest were great to work with. Scarlett Johansson was really nice, and I could speak Spanish to Sophia Vergara and John Leguizamo between takes. We all just had fun.”

The movie tells the story of a recently-fired Miami chef who buys a food truck, and travels across the country with his son to reclaim his credibility. It premiered at this year’s South by Southwest festival to strong buzz, and Christian recalls the shoot to be among his most relaxed and enjoyable experiences on set – a mood that he thinks translated to what you’ll see in the finished film.

“It’s going to do well because of its warmth and the characters – it’s something different this summer,” he says. “The movie had a really good script, I think it has a really positive subject – that anything is possible. People will really respond to what Jon created.”