Jaime Camil – Jane the Virgin (TV)

October 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

In the new hit CW show “Jane the Virgin,” which stars Gina Rodriguez as the title character, a young woman who becomes pregnant through artificial insemination, actor Jaime Camil (“Pulling Strings”) plays Rogelio de la Vega, a famous telenovela star and (as audiences found out in the pilot episode), Jane’s biological father.

During an interview with me this week, Camil, 41, talked about the excitement he’s feeling over the early success of his new show and how he’s enjoyed the Latino characterizations, which he says are never stereotypical. We also talked about what he’s looking for in terms of future projects and the kind of advice he gives to young, aspiring actors hoping to break into the industry.

“Jane the Virgin” has become one of the most talked about and critically acclaimed shows to hit TV this fall. How do you feel knowing you’re part of this series?

We feel really blessed and truly honored. We’ve had such an amazing response from the audience. We’ve been going up against the top two shows in the nation, which are “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Voice.” That doesn’t make things easier for us. (Laughs) We’re definitely boosting the ratings for the CW. I don’t think they’ve had these kinds of ratings since the season finale of “Gossip Girl” about two years ago. We are really happy that people like our show.

Audiences have definitely been tuning in, but do you think it was a hard sell initially because of the unconventional storyline?

It was challenging to describe the show before the show aired. People would ask, “’Jane the Virgin?’ What? Who is that?” We would say, “Well, it’s about a girl who gets pregnant by artificial insemination.” It didn’t make any sense to some people. The themes are a very natural part of the show. I think the themes are very embedded in the show.

You know as well as I do that shows with Latino characters at the center of the narrative are very few and far between in the TV landscape. In recent cases, most have missed the mark. Why is “Jane the Virgin” working?

What I love about the show is the way they dignify Latinos. Gina Rodriguez’s character’s family has Hispanic heritage, but it doesn’t mean that they have their house decorated with piñatas on the ceiling or they have to be screaming at each other like, “You want tacos?! You want paletas?!” They are a middle-class Hispanic family and that’s it. The show doesn’t ridicule that or turn it into a caricature. They portray a Latino family in a very dignified way.

“Jane the Virgin” is adapted from a TV show from Latin America. Do you think its roots are important to the show and where it’s going?

You know, I think [executive producer] Ben Silverman knows how to bring non- American projects to the U.S. He brought “The Office” and “Ugly Betty” to the U.S. He knows how to make them work for the mainstream market. Now, “Jane the Virgin” is very loosely based on the Venezuelan show [“Juana la virgen”]. The show’s writers are taking this Venezuelan premise and creating new scripts and storylines in a brand new way.

What do you like most about your character?

I think he has a lot of heart. I think he’s the comic relief of the show. So far we know my character turns out to be Jane’s father. In the following episodes, you’ll start seeing my character playing into the story even more. It’s a journey about how he wants to get closer to Jane. He has these beautiful, heartfelt scenes. In order to make people laugh, you have to make them cry that way they can enjoy the laughter even more.

Talk about Gina Rodriguez in the lead role. What does she bring to Jane that is so special to this show?

She is amazing and a beautiful human being. Not only that, but she is very talented as well. (Laughs) That helps a lot when you’re an actress and have to bring these characters to life. I think it’s really great that we have Gina as the center of this show. It’s great to share the set with someone who has the same work ethic as you. She’s always eager to work and have fun. She transmits this to all of us – the cast and the crew and even the network executives.

What are you looking for when it comes to future projects, whether it’s a role on TV or film?

Well, I love scripts. I love to read scripts. But I am very happy right now to say that I am a working actor. In this town of Los Angeles, the phrase “I’m an actor” is overrated. So, I like to say, “I’m a working actor.” (Laughs) I love to be a working actor and I love to read scripts as they come in. If I find the script or character that is interesting, I want to transform myself into that character.

What do you tell other young actors who want to do the same thing you’re doing? We both know only a very small percentage of actors become working actors. So, do you sugarcoat those facts or let them know how it really is in the industry?

Well, first, they have to know and understand why they want to be an actor. If you want to be an actor because you want to be recognized on the street and have people ask you for autographs, look for another career. If you want to be an actor because you love being on stage and want to capture a person’s heart, go for it. The most important thing is to understand that this career is not about speed. It’s about stamina. This is a marathon. It’s not a 50-meter sprint. You have to persevere and understand it takes a lot of time. You have to know you’re going to knock on 100 doors and 99 of them are going to close in your face. But that one door that opens will have a great surprise for you.

Jaime Camil – Pulling Strings

October 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

In what he’s considering his crossover film from the entertainment industry in Mexico to Hollywood, actor Jaime Camil stars in “Pulling Strings,” a romantic comedy from the same studio (Pantelion Films) that recently had major success with their box-office breaking project “Instructions Not Included.”

In “Strings,” Camil, who has starred in a number of telenovelas in Mexico including “Por ella soy Eva” and “El cielo en tu Mirada,” plays Alejandro Fernandez (not that Alejandro Fernandez), a mariachi singer working in Mexico City who is looking for a way to get to his daughter in Arizona. He soon meets and falls in love with Rachel, an American diplomat who ends being the person that denies him from obtaining a visa to make his trip to the U.S.

During our interview, Camil, 40, talked to me about how he used his relationship with his own daughter to help create the emotion in the film and what it is about mariachi music that he enjoys.

What was it about your character Alejandro Fernandez that you could connect with?

Well, first of all, it’s very funny that his name is Alejandro Fernandez because as you probably know we have a very famous singer in Mexico with the same name whose nickname is “El Potrillo” (The Colt). This Alejandro in our movie is a very confused guy. I’m a dad, so I can tell you I don’t function properly when I’m away from my daughter. This guy is so confused because he thinks what is best for his daughter is to send her away to Arizona to live with her grandparents. He’s completely lost in life. But thanks to his best friend Canicas (Omar Chaparro), he realizes his daughter doesn’t need the best school or best ballet academy. What she needs is love from her dad.

Did you think it was important for your first American film to be a wholesome family project?

Yes. It’s a romantic comedy. It’s rated PG. It’s a love story from Mexico to the world. Sometimes in Mexican films, the only things you see are bad news or the realities we have in Mexico like crime and drugs. But there are other realities we have like stories of hope and happy endings. We have to embrace those, too. I think that’s what we try to do with “Pulling Strings.”

Did you use the relationship you have with your real-life daughter to help build the one you have with your daughter in the movie?

Definitely. Actually, my character sings five songs in the movie. There is one scene where I have to sing one of those songs to my daughter [in the movie] and it was very difficult to sing those words because it’s a very heartfelt song. I really thought about my daughter while I was singing that song. I was like, “OK, please give me a break because I’m going to cry like a baby right now!” My relationship with my daughter definitely helped.

Was there something specific that drew you to this story beside the father/daughter relationship?

Well, I usually decide if I’m going to do a movie based on if I like the script or not. I thought “Pulling Strings” had every single element that a classic romantic comedy needs to be a success. It’s very well written. The cast was amazing. It was a decision I made based on the power of the script.

Was it fun to get all decked out in the mariachi outfit?

Yes. You have to do it with a lot of respect and honor to the culture. When you put on the suit, you really feel like a superhero. You feel like you did when you dressed up with a cape as a kid like Superman. The Mexican music and lyrics are so gorgeous. It was a huge, positive element to the story.

Did you have to study the way a mariachi performs to make that part of the character feel genuine?

Yeah, you’re right. There’s a very specific way they sing. I had opera training for three years and I have three albums out. I also did a Broadway show. I’m an actor that sings, so it is in my blood. It is in my system.

Well, in the film you focus more on soft mariachi ballads. You don’t perform songs like “Mariachi Loco” or anything like that. Was that something you wanted to stay away from?

Yeah, because mariachis are not all about “Mariachi Loco” or doing the Macarena. The real mariachis in Mexico are singers like Agustín Lara and Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete – the Golden Era of Mexican Filmmaking. Mariachis sing very soft and very beautiful. That’s old-school mariachi. They are caressing the songs.

We recently saw another movie from Pantelion Films, “Instructions Not Included,” have some incredible box-office success. It is now the most profitable Mexican film ever. Do you think “Pulling Strings” could do the same thing and find the demographic they are looking for?

From your mouth to God’s ear, right? I would hope, but I honestly don’t think so. Phenomenons only happen once in a lifetime. But it’s definitely opening the door. I think Pantelion Films has a very good success rate. I think the elements people liked about “Instructions,” we have those in this movie. There are a lot of similarities, but they’re different movies in their context and stories. The following that [“Instructions Not Included” lead actor] Eugenio [Derbez] has, I would venture to say Omar and myself have the same following [in Mexico]. Hopefully, it will do well in the box office. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed. We love Eugenio to death and are very happy about his success. He’s a good friend of ours. Hopefully, we’ll ride that same wave.

Do you hope this movie brings you more opportunities to make American films?

Well, hopefully I will never turn my back to the Latin American market, but I am doing [“Pulling Strings”] to crossover. We’re getting there. I have a small part in another movie with Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine (“Elsa & Fred”). But this isn’t about a career of speed. It’s all about resistance. It’s a lengthy process, but we are willing to do it.