Q. What are some of the recent projects that you've been working on?
A. Starting with projects before was, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” on ABC Family, it’s Brenda Hampton’s new show after “Blossom” and “Seventh Heaven.” That was probably one of my first meatier roles where I was an established, recurring character that came back on the show. His name was Mac, and he just basically started hooking up with Adrian on the show and causing drama between Adrian and Ricky. That was probably one of my first meatier roles and then moved on to a couple of Indie films, Footprints with director John Peros and Steve Peros, and from there “Death Valley” picked up and now I just shot a horror film that’s going to be coming out starring Eric Roberts, it’s going to kick off from “Death Valley."
Q. What can you tell us about the premise for "Death Valley" and about your character?
A. The show is kind of an interesting mix, it’s “Reno 911” meets Sean of the Dead and it’s a horror/comedy that takes place in the San Fernando Valley. The UTF, the Undead Task Force, has to come in and contain the monster outbreak in the San Fernando Valley. It has vampires, it has werewolves, it has zombies, and it gives the audience both realities, the comedy reality as well as the horror, and it’s been fun. We just got the number one watched show in that time slot so we’re really excited about the fans and hope that it just continues to build. And then Rico is basically, was just introduced last week, he’s a vampire that throws these parties to get blood and get buzzed. The girls come into his parties and get blood drawn for them and then he gives them these black liquid, it’s almost our take of “V” from “True Blood” but it tricked them out into a trip so they love coming to these. We’ll see what’s in store next, in the next couple of episodes.
Q. What made you want to be a part of this project?
A. Being an actor out here is just so weird because there’s so much material and you start to realize that a lot of it is just kind of recycled scripts. Hollywood likes to re-use a lot of themes, but with this script just from reading when I picked it up, it was just so different. I’d even be reading and thinking how are they going to do this, because I’ve seen it done on film, but on television it’s a little bit trickier, especially being a half-hour show. It was just a question of how are they going to pull this off in such little time, but that excited me, because it was something new, it was something fresh, and after I read the script I just wanted to be a part of it.
Q. Where do you draw from for your portrayal of Rico?
A. Well, I definitely read up on vampires that have been done in the past and one of the themes that really turned me on was with vampires, it was like this whole exotic side. It was all about letting a stranger into your place and him seducing you and that’s what really kind of turned me on about the vampires. I try to really steer away from what was being used in, let’s say, “True Blood” or being used in Twilight. I didn’t want to re-enact the same vampires, I wanted to try something different, I wanted to try something fresh and I think you’ll definitely get that with Rico. He’s just a little edgier, he’s a little crueler, but yet you don’t know if he has this other side that could snap at any point, it was just a different take on vampires and I hope that the audience really dig it and hopefully we can just hope the fan base won’t be bored, but I definitely wanted to go in a different approach with Rico.
Q. What is it about your role as Rico that you find challenging?
A. I think the most challenging part about the role was doing the serious side of a vampire, or the character, and yet still have to balance that comedy side. It’s so tricky, you need the right balance of both, so that was probably the most challenging, but it was still a lot of fun because it allowed us to you know, just play with the character, and do multiple takes and we had Eric Weinberg from “Scrubs” and “Californication” come on board and just work with us. We had amazing directors, you know, Drew Daywalt and Austin Reading, that would come in and we just wanted to play. It was almost like coming to work and just playing ____00:19____ playground and trying different things and I mean, as an actor, like I just have to come with my ideas but yet, you know, just be open to play because we didn’t know what balance of comedy and what balance of horror we wanted to use so we just played with it and hopefully, you know, once it was finished, whoever was in the editing room would just do justice to it, so that was definitely the most challenging.
Q. Did the chemistry with the cast come naturally or did it take some time to develop?
A. You know, it just came instant. I think they did just a really amazing job with casting this because you read all these characters by yourself when you’re reading the script and then you create them in your head, and the scariest thing is when you walk into the table read and you haven’t even talked to any of the actors and you already know what actor is playing what character. I think that’s really cool and we just hit it off really well and there was a lot of great chemistry on set. We came to play and just have fun, and this is probably one of the funnest shows I’ve ever worked on and it’s just been a blast. So definitely, there’s a lot of great chemistry, and a lot of great ideas just being thrown around and trying new things, especially with such a new, different show that we really haven’t seen before on TV. We’ve got not only the horror side and the comedy side but we have all the vampires, the werewolves, and the zombies, so we’re really excited. You can tell that there’s a lot of good energy on set because we were all excited to get Spider One’s vision, he’s the co-executive producer of the show. We all wanted to get his vision out the best we could.
Q. Do you have a really memorable moment from filming?
A. I think probably from the best moments that I learned so much is watching Bryan Callen interacting. His comedy is so good, and so sharp and he’s been in the business for so long. I loved him in The Hangover, he was so funny on both Hangovers, and just working with him and interacting with him, I learned so much that and that was probably one of the peaks of working on the show. It was so funny, it was like it was his mission to try and get us to break and laugh on the set, and I just wish I could see those blooper reels because it was so hard to hold it together sometimes, but it was so much fun.
Q. What do you think it is about the show that has drawn in so many viewers?
A. I think it’s just the right balance of what people want right now, in my opinion. I don’t know if I can speak for all the viewers out there but I think with hits like Sean of the Dead it was done so well, that comedy/horror, that I think it was genius to kind of try that take on a television show, you know, on TV, and I think that that whole mix of between horror and comedy but throwing in the zombies, you get that gore in there, then you have those vampires which get the more seductive side, and then werewolves which gives you more of that energy side of the show, it’s just the right balance, and I think it’s feeding to all the genres and styles that people want to see.
Q. Where can those interested go to learn more about you and keep up with your career?
A. Absolutely, they can check out my personal website which is rjcantu.com. You can check out some videos, or a little bit about myself, or what is coming up, upcoming projects. You can also check out my Twitter which is twitter.com/cantumagic. I’m a tweetaholic and you can also check out a lot of videos. I’ve uploaded a lot of magic videos, a lot of acting videos on my YouTube, which is YouTube.com/cantumagic.
Q. What would you like to say to your fans and supporters?
A. Thank you for just following my work and I hope you like my new approach with Rico, it’s a different take, with a vampire and just hopefully they’ll be open to a new character and hopefully the fanbase can build up, not only for myself, but for the show because I think it’s a really different show that needs to have its proper spotlight which, and our pilot being the number one watched show in that time slot, I think that kind of speaks for itself, but hopefully the fans continue to build and the show continue its great momentum that it’s getting right now.