Oscar Nuñez – The Proposal

June 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

The differences are obvious when comparing actor Oscar Nuñez’s character on the popular TV show “The Office” to the one he portrays in the new film “The Proposal.” While his accountant character Oscar Martinez on the NBC comedy is reserved and well-mannered, his role in the Sandra Bullock movie is a bit more expressive.

In the film, Nuñez plays Ramone, a resident of a small town in Alaska who is the owner of a general store and a wedding minister. Ramone also happens to be the only male exotic dancer in the entire town. It’s a scene Nuñez steals when he is first introduced.

During the scene, Nuñez, who is of Cuban descent, shows some skin as he performs a lap dance for Margaret Tate (Bullock), a New York book publisher from Canada who is blackmailing her assistant into marrying her so she won’t be deported.

Taking some time to speak with me, Nuñez, 50, talked about shooting his exotic dancing scene and how he became friends with comedy icon Betty White.

Did it feel liberating to let it all hang out in “The Proposal” since your role in “The Office” is a lot more passive than the other characters?

Yes, it did. That was more my energy, not like in “The Office.” That scene was crazy. It was a lot of fun to have fun. We started shooting it at 8 a.m. and we didn’t stop until 7:30 p.m. It was a long day.

Did you have a choreographer or are all those moves your own?

Yeah, I got help with the choreography for that scene. Some of them were my moves. They choreographed the main dance and then I did the other stuff. It was a mixture.

Did you have to audition for the part?

Yeah, I had to audition for it and I actually forgot all about the audition. A month later I got a call that said, “Hey, you got that part!” I was like, “What? What are you talking about? Oh, that! Cool!” So, I got to work with Sandra [Bullock], Ryan [Reynolds], Betty White, Craig T. Nelson, Mary Steenburgen and Denis O’Hare. It was a great experience.

What kind of response did you get at the premiere last week for your performance, especially that scene?

It was very disturbing on the big screen, but people loved it. A lot of my coworkers were there [from “The Office] like Angela [Kinsey], Brian [Baumgartener], and Kate Flannery, among others. When it opens nationwide on June 19, my family is organizing a bunch of people to go see it. They will be shocked and not so much surprised.

What was it like on the set with a comedy icon like Betty White, who rarely comes out in feature films like this?

It was great. We stayed in the same hotel. We got to drive into work in a van every morning. We talked about everything from how she met her husband to animals. We became great friends. She’s really awesome.

What can we anticipate happening with your character in the fall season of “The Office?”

I don’t know. The writers are writing right now as we speak. So, we have no idea what they are writing. I think we start filming shortly after July 21. I can’t wait to go back.

How do you explain what a tilde is to people who don’t know how to pronounce your name?

Oh, man. I try to pronounce the ñ to them but I gave up a long time ago. I just tell them, “You know, you can just say Smith if you like.”

The Proposal

June 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White
Directed by: Anne Fletcher (“27 Dresses”)
Written by: Pete Chiarelli (debut)

It’s fairly easy to compare the new Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy “The Proposal” to the 1990 film “Green Card” starring Gérard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell. Both are conventional stories about two people scamming the immigration system so one can stay in the U.S. Both have lead characters with natural chemistry.

But where ‘The Proposal” differs drastically from the Peter Weir-directed rom-com of 20 years ago is the dynamic in which the two lead characters’ relationship is written. While Depardieu and MacDowell are portrayed as strangers who are basically doing each other a favor, Bullock and Reynolds have an everyday working rapport that disrupts the already sitcom-like storyline.

In “The Proposal,” Bullock plays Margaret Tate, an icy New York book publisher who learns she is being deported to Canada because she failed to renew her citizenship. Desperate to stay in the country, she turns to her always-reliable personal assistant Andrew Paxon (Reynolds) who hopes his role as her whipping boy (he goes on latté and tampon runs for her) will only last until the company publishes his manuscript.

When Margaret blackmails Andrew into marrying her so she can get legal status, both see a way to get what they want. But when a suspicious immigration officer questions the veracity of their engagement, the quasi-couple is forced to verify their relationship by traveling to Andrew’s home in Alaska to tell his family that he is about to marry the boss he has always complained about.

What is it about the state of Alaska that screenwriters find so humorous that they have to set their story there? Renée Zellweger did the same thing in last year’s unpleasant romantic comedy “New in Town.” Here, Bullock and Reynolds team up with the Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Oscar Nuñez, and the charming Betty White to slush through the snow one predictable step after another. Since Margaret and Andrew have known each other for so long, there is no sense of discovery between the two although they are supposed to be learning about one other during their trip so they can pass a mandatory couple’s test administered by U.S. Immigration. There should be cause for concern and at least the impression of anxiousness in these characters, but instead first-time screenwriter Pete Chiarelli executes everything so fluffy there’s not much to stand on other than a couple of amusing performances.

Along with former “Golden Girl” White’s rare and funny appearance, it’s really Reynolds’ familiar humor that keeps the film from taking a dive. Even when Reynolds takes on a role that has him portray a more sensitive character like Andrew, his deeply-rooted sardonic traits peer out through his boyish eyes. It really is the highlight of the film and keeps Bullock’s character from blowing up into more of a caricature than it already is.

If rom-coms are the flavor you like, you can do a lot worse than “The Proposal.” It’s harmless, second-rate material just good enough for a date movie with a girl you necessarily don’t want to impress with your keen cinematic taste.