Jon Huertas sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Huertas talks about his unusual audition for “This Is Us,” how he first learned his role would be bigger than he thought, his favorite “Castle” episode, and more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Jon Huertas —
On his audition for “This Is Us” and how he learned he had a bigger role than he originally thought:
“‘Castle’ had been canceled recently and I was in Puerto Rico when it was canceled. I came back and there were, I think, four auditions, meetings for me set up. Two of them were for high-level narco, crime-boss types that are gonna have accents — Colombia, from Mexico, whatever. And then another one was a Latino who was abusive. And I was a little like, ‘Wow, I thought I’d really love to audition for something where, hey, the guy gets the girl.’ Or something like that. And I thought, ‘Eight years on a show, maybe now is the time I’ll get that opportunity.’ So I had these three auditions. And the third one, I went ahead — it was a chemistry read for a show. I went in, did the chemistry read, it went great. They wanted me to come back to do another chemistry read. I did another one, and after that one I was driving home and they said — I got a call — they were like, ‘Hey, the casting people from the show you did the chemistry read for, they’re doing another show. And they want you to come in today for the test. Can you get to Paramount in 30 minutes?’ I was like, ‘What?! What the? I can’t get some time to prepare? What do you mean’ [They said], ‘No, no, no, don’t worry about it. They just really want to see you.’ So I drove to Paramount. I show up, the waiting room was full of guys with salt and pepper hair. They were all anglo. I was the only person of color. There were about eight other dudes, which is to me an indication that — oh, I know why they — they want to say, ‘Oh, we tried. We saw somebody of color and it just didn’t work out.’ So I thought I was that — like that’s why they wanted me to hurry up and get there, they had to see one person of color to speak to the diversity. But I decided, I’m just gonna work on my stuff — I was the last guy there — so I’m just working on my stuff. I went to the corner, worked on my stuff. And then, at the end, I went in and sat down with — Dan [Fogelman] was in there, Ken [Olin] was in there, John [Requa] and Glenn [Ficarra] were in there — so everybody, all the EPs were in there. It was a big room full of people […] They said, ‘Hey, will you do a couple of scenes?’ And I was like, ‘Sure.’ So we did a couple of scenes and the character’s name initially was Mike — it wasn’t Miguel. They changed that after we filmed a couple of episodes. They hired me and I was like, ‘Cool, that’s great. When is my first episode?’ I get a call like a week later saying you’ve got to go to the Valley and they’re going to do a life-cast of your head. I was like, ‘What? This is a family drama.’ You’d usually do that if you’re doing something like sci-fi or something like that. Or if your head is getting cut off. What is this about? […] So until the makeup artist told me, ‘It’s for when we age you. Cause you’re, you know, when you’re married to Rebecca in the future. And I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute, no. Rebecca is married to Jack. I play Jack’s best friend.’ And I’m like these makeup artists are confused. They don’t know what they’re doing. They were like, ‘No, no, no, you, Mike, are married to Rebecca later.’ What? No one told me about this […] Finally, like, after a couple of episodes they were like, ‘We have to lock you down. You’re a bigger part of the story. We didn’t really tell you that in the beginning.’”
On his favorite episode of “Castle”:
“There’s an episode I loved that we did on ‘Castle’ — there were two actually — but there was one in particular that we broke the fourth wall in an episode. So we were this episodic television series that’s a procedural, that follows a certain model. And they just came up with this concept of there’s going to be a reality or a documentary film crew following you guys as your characters. So your characters are going to be talking to the camera. So you have to play it like you’re a real person, which you think you’re doing that already but then as soon as you’re talking to the camera, you’re like, ‘Wow.’ Then you have to figure out what would this person that I created, what would he do when the camera was turned on and pointed to him and he knew it? So I thought that was very interesting, challenging.”
On how his “Castle” character, Esposito, was an extension of himself:
“I think Esposito was pretty much an extension of me. What was great about the show is I was able to collaborate with the creation of Esposito so I made him a military veteran, which was awesome that they let me do that and continue that through. I grew up doing mixed martial arts, I had been training for mixed martial arts for a number of years, and a lot of the action stuff would do for me and give me because they know that it fueled me and I just loved it. I think a lot of what Esposito was was an extension of me. He was about justice at any cost, which I kind of can be a little like that. And if there was anything that was on the page that just didn’t sit right, there was an open-door policy with the writers and I could go and just sit down and say, ‘Hey, you know what? This is kind of not what we’ve established or not where we want to go, in my opinion. So can we look at this?’”
On how he worked to protect the integrity of Esposito’s ethnicity:
“There’s not a lot of Latinx writers, not a lot of Latinx adult male writers in the writers’ rooms these days. I think that’s something that’s lacking in our industry. So I had to protect that part of Esposito, too — the Afro-Latino side. So how would someone with Afro-Latino heritage approach certain scenes or how would they emotionally feel in a certain moment compared to someone who grew up differently. I think we only had one adult male Latino director ever in the eight seasons we worked on that show — he’s the only one I’ve ever had in television. So I feel like that’s one thing that I had to do — I didn’t have to do it that often, but you know I did have to sometimes maintain the integrity of my ethnicity.”
On how “Castle” affected its fans:
“The most pleasantly surprising was just how fans react to you and the show and how you affect people. We met people who said, ‘This show saved my life. I was in a really bad place and I thought about taking my own life a couple of times. And every time I would watch the show, you guys would make me laugh, and you guys would have me engaged trying to help you solve this crime. I just loved going on the ride with you guys.’ We engaged with our audience a lot on social media and then also at Comic-Con in San Diego and different cons. Just to see them react with real joy when they got to take a picture with us or have a conversation with us. I never realized how impactful a series could be to someone.”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), David Arquette (“Scream”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), Michael Fishman (“The Conners”), Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), International Bestselling Author Patrick McGinnis (“The 10% Entrepreneur,” “Fear of Missing Out”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Echo”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop,” “The Gossip Game”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Station 19”), and Matt Walsh (“Veep”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Briarpatch”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Duncanville”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Anthony Rapp (“Rent”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. The Creative Coalition harnesses the unique platforms of the arts community and entertainment industry to make positive impacts on social welfare issues. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.