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Three Make-A-Wish® Kids Get Movie Extra Wish Experience in Filming of “We Bought a Zoo”


December 21, 2011


Phoenix, AZ

Wish kids treated like stars on-set, acting alongside Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson

PHOENIX - (December 21, 2011) – Three young budding actors recently got their first big break as extras in the filming of “We Bought a Zoo” as part of their Make-A-Wish experience. Marlen, 16, from San Francisco, Charles, 12, from Markham, Illinois, and Joshua, 12, from New Caney, Texas, got the star treatment, with a personal trailer, and hair, makeup, and wardrobe support.

The wish kids participated in the filming of multiple scenes, which may or may not be included in the final film, and were thrilled to meet, take pictures with, and get autographs from stars of the movie Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, as well as director Cameron Crowe, also known for directing “Jerry Maguire,” “Almost Famous,” and “Say Anything.”

All three wish kids gushed about their day on the set as “wonderful,” “fantastic,” and “the best experience of my life.”

Based on a true story and adapted from a book by Benjamin Mee, “We Bought a Zoo” is about a recently widowed father, Mee, played by Damon, who moves his young family to the English countryside and purchases a dilapidated zoo of 200 exotic animals and the trials and tribulations associated with trying to rebuild the zoo, and his life. Produced by 20th Century Fox, the film is scheduled for release on December 23, 2011.

“The opportunity to be actors in the filming of a major motion picture was a dream come true for these wish kids and we hope just the starting point of long and illustrious Hollywood careers,” said David A. Williams, president and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. “We invite filmgoers to join us in watching the movie and looking for whether they see our wish kids in any of the scenes.”

Marlen has a life-threatening autoimmune disorder, Charles has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Joshua has acute lymphatic leukemia. A photo of Charles with Matt Damon is included. Other photos are available.

About the Make-A-Wish Foundation

The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Based in Phoenix, the Foundation is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, serving children in every community in the United States, its territories and in 47 countries on five continents. With the help of generous donors and more than 30,000 volunteers worldwide, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants a wish somewhere in the world every 23 minutes. It has granted more than 280,000 wishes since its inception in 1980. Visit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America at and discover how you can share the power of a wish® .

Press Contact

Josh deBerge
Director, National Communications
4742 N. 24th St. Suite 400
Phoenix, AZ  85016

Phone : (602) 792-3185
Fax : (602) 279-0855

As his mother, it was very meaningful to me that people who didn’t know us stepped forward to be in Bopsy’s life. ”

— Nance Octaviana Trujillo, mom of Bopsy

How it all started

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