The cinematographer for "The Zookeeper's Wife," starring Jessica Chastain, grew up in Wayzata and graduated from The Blake School and Carleton College (1995) before attending NYU's film school. states that "Zookeeper's" was "gloriously shot" by Andrij Parekh." His name, pronounced An-dree Par-rick, was Andrew at Blake.

His movie credits include "Blue Valentine," "Sugar," "Half Nelson" and "Madame Bovary." Parekh and I endured a noisy connection while he rode a train from Boston to New York; then he was off to Prague to finish work on a movie starring Paul Giamatti, Sienna Miller, Paul Rudd, Guy Pearce and Jeff Daniels.

Parekh is the son of Pravin and Lesya Parekh. For 26 years his mom was a fourth-grade teacher at Sunset Hill Elementary in Wayzata. "My mom [contacted] you," said Andrij, joking, "She's also my agent." She's apparently a fan of mine.

I don't know from whom Andrij gets his dashing good looks, but one glimpse at his photo and you'll see why I think he's on the wrong side of the camera. In this interview Andrij explains why he's not.

Q: I'm chuffed that I get to bold face Jessica Chastain's name because she's a great actor. Did you freak out when you heard you were shooting "The Zookeeper's Wife" with Chastain?

A: Yes. I was definitely very excited to shoot a movie with her, mainly because she is an incredible actress.

Q: Which animals could you not resist petting on the set of "The Zookeepers Wife?"

A: The baby lions were pretty amazing.

Q: Do you have a list of actors you'd like to work with, and will you name names?

A: I don't have really a list. I can tell you actors I've worked with actors who are incredible. Jessica, a guy named Oscar Isaac, who was in a TV show called "Show Me a Hero" that I shot for HBO a year and a half, two years ago. I shot with David Bowie once; that was very exciting. I don't really get too star-struck but Jessica was something very special. Paul Giamatti, I've worked with three times: "Cold Souls," a movie called "Madame Bovary," which my wife [Sophie Barthes] directed. I'm in the middle of a movie "The Catcher Was a Spy" that we are shooting in Prague.

Q: When a cinematographer, whose job it is to set the mood of film, is married to a director, who is in charge of establishing the atmosphere at their house?

A: I'd say the secret to success and harmony is total collaboration.

Q: You admitted in an interview to being afraid of the speed of baseballs being thrown when you shot the movie "Sugar." Does this mean you didn't play Little League?

A: I was very bad at T-ball, let's put it that way.

Q: You seem to like depressing movies?

A: I like very human movies, and I don't think life is happy all the time.

Q: How did you become interested in cinematography?

A: I went to film school at NYU, graduate school, and I realized very early that I didn't like talking to actors. Actors are very special people and they have very specific psychologies, in general, and you know being a director is a lot about getting actors to do things. I found out I liked making pictures instead of trying to get emotions out of actors.

Q: Did you do anything as a child that foreshadowed your interest in becoming a cinematographer?

A: I was always into Legos and kind of architecture. Cinematography is a lot about architecture and light, about framing things.

Q: Aren't you on the wrong side of the camera? You're kind of a dream boat. Your mother loved it when I said that to her.

A: Thanks, Mom. I'm a little bit shy, sooooo, you know, I like that side of the camera.

Q: You've done two movies with Ryan Gosling, so that means he returns your phone calls?

A: Yep. I don't see him socially and I haven't talked to him in about five years, so I have sort of lost touch, a little.

C.J. can be reached at and seen on FOX 9's "Jason Show." E-mailers, please state a subject; "Hello" does not count.