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Exclusive ALL MY CHILDREN Jordi Vilasuso Interview, Dr. Griffin Castillo

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Lena:  I know it was a while ago but congratulations on winning a Daytime Emmy.

Jordi Vilasuso:  Yeah, it was a while ago and I was just thinking about that the other day.  It was nine years ago, crazy.

Lena:  Yes and I loved your spirited acceptance speech.  It was so sweet.

Jordi Vilasuso:  Oh, thank you.  I kind of let it all hang out and lived in the moment.

Lena:  I loved how when the music played to tell you to wrap it up, you were just like, wait a minute.  That’s awesome!

Jordi Vilasuso:  At the end of the day, the show has to keep going.

Lena:  It must be nerve-racking to get up there and do that?

Jordi Vilasuso:  It was mixed.  I was all of twenty one and I was really proud of what I had submitted for my work and I had been nominated the year before and it was kind of a weird experience.  When I didn’t win I remember my boys back home really broke my balls about how disappointed and awkward I looked.  I was determined to use my best poker face but I won, so that was good.

Lena:  That is always the worst, when they go to the losers and put the camera on them.

Jordi Vilasuso:  I know that’s what the audience loves.  They love that human expression and that thing that everyone hates to admit, that vulnerability when you lose and that look on your face of surprise because you lost or disappointment or surprise that you won.  It’s funny because in the end that is what the audience really wants to see.

Lena:  Well you are definitely due to win another award.

Jordi Vilasuso:  Oh, thank you so much.  It’s been a great seven months and they wrote a great character.  I’ve never played a doctor and it’s been a while since I’ve played a heroic type of guy.  I’ve been playing a lot of guys that have had something to prove and Griffin is much more of a mature character.  He really knows what he wants and who he is more than other characters that I have played.  I love it though and coming from a family of physicians it was a great honor that I could do that, that I could pay respect to the whole profession.  It’s been a lot of fun.

Lena:  When I typed your name into Goggle, your name followed by shirtless is the first thing that popped up.

Jordi Vilasuso:  I know and the first thing you see on the show is me shirtless, so that whole shirtless factor has helped me and plagued me.  I always have to keep an eye on my body and not overdo it.  It’s a fine balance but it has also helped me.  It’s so funny because I have been watching this show, “Game of Thrones” on HBO.  Have you seen that show?

Lena:  I saw the first episode.

Jordi Vilasuso:  I pay a lot of attention to and I read the trades and I visit IMDbPro and this blonde girl is the most searched girl on the internet.  She’s naked a lot in the show and her sexuality is a big thing and in the end I can’t help but assume that boosts exposure, for lack of a better word, of what people want. I guess the shirtless thing is a good thing.

Lena:  You have to feel good about it, that so many people want to see you shirtless, right.

Jordi Vilasuso:  Right yeah, yeah.  I think it helps.

Lena:  I’m sure glad that when I put my name in Google that search doesn’t come up for me.

Jordi Vilasuso:  Really, what comes up?

Lena:  Not shirtless!  It’s so different for women.

Lena:  I loved your work in “CSI: Miami”.  You have officially made it when you get threatened by Horatio Caine (David Caruso).  Can you talk about your time on the set?

Jordi Vilasuso:  Yeah, I’d been auditioning for that show for a while and Nan Dutton, the casting director, really liked me and I guess they were trying to find a role for me and you know I think everybody was in my corner trying to get me on the show.  When I did finally get in the show, for some reason I always get shot in the head, in a lot of these programs.  I’ve died by being shot in the head three times, in three different programs.  For some reason I guess they like seeing my brains splattered everywhere.  The first person that introduced himself to me on the “CSI: Miami” set was Caruso.  He actually came up to me and you hear a lot of stuff about Hollywood and I didn’t get any sense of that from him.  He’s really cool and when we worked on our scene, it was just me, him and the writer on the set and we basically just agreed on how I was going to take it.  It’s his show.  He’s really the guy that not only is the audience rooting for but he’s the captain of the ship.   There is a lot of respect for him on the set and to his credit, I really appreciated how seriously he took out little two minute scene.  We were shooting in a hotel and the business in the hotel was still happening, while we were shooting.  They were still checking people in and what not and I remember doing a scene where I think a credit card machine went off very slightly in the background and he said no, we have to stop and start over again.  We do another take and all of a sudden the air conditioner goes off and it wasn’t like a bunch of glass breaking on the set but any slight little distraction and he wanted to do it over.  He wanted it quiet and the atmosphere to be perfect for him and myself and I was told by another actor, there was a legend that went around Hollywood that when he gets angry or when things aren’t working for him the way he wants he screams, “DIET COKE”!   On that second take when the air conditioner went off he shouted, “DIET COKE” to the crew and everyone working there.  Finally, we got the right takes that he was happy with.  He was really cool and I enjoyed working with him and Adam Rodriguez, who plays Eric Delko.  He’s Hispanic, like myself and he was really cool, too.

Lena:  I’ve spoken with other soap stars and the one thing that they’ve all agreed on is how much it helped with their craft since it is so fast paced and you really have to hit your mark because I know they usually only give you one take.

Jordi Vilasuso:  Yeah, I mean it’s funny this time around I have not worked in soaps, for my own reasons, in seven years and I don’t remember it being this fast.  Due to a bunch of constraints and the age of the medium and they moved from New York to Los Angeles to save money.    We do on average one hundred to one hundred and twenty pages a day, which is a movie and when I was working in New York it wasn’t like that.  We did one show a day, maybe two.  The actor really has to take care of himself and be prepared.  I think that is one lesson that I see.  It helps the craft, of course.  It’s almost that you have no choice, you can’t think, it’s really fast and you do the best you can every day.  Your concentration has to be very high because if you are doing thirty to sixty pages a day on your own, at the end of the day it’s easy and there are a lot of people watching our back, including yourself and the directors but you can end up with egg on your face because they will take it.  If Susan Lucci or whoever is ready to film, you have to get there and do your job to the best of your ability and get out.  I would agree with that in the sense that it really helps you make choices and really works on your memory.  Last week they gave me cuts in the script and they said, “You know what Jordi, we need to throw in some dialog”.  They added a paragraph and I don’t know how the hell I did it but on the first take it just came out of the gate and it was fine.

Lena:  Do they give you cue cards?

Jordi Vilasuso:  No, everybody says that.  It’s so funny.  I guess that was true maybe early on but there is no such thing.  The only thing we have had cue cards for are announcements or voiceovers.  Other than that there are no cue cards.

Lena:  How on earth do you remember all your lines?

Jordi Vilasuso:  I work very hard and I constantly have my scripts with me.  I probably take one day a week off and just put my mind to rest.  I’m constantly reading the stories and I have a tape recorder that I keep with me in my car, just so I can hear the story over and over again.  I run lines with the on-set coach, who is a great asset, not only to myself but all the actors on the set.  The rehearsal is so minimal and on top of that, there are props, blocking and you just go for it.  You just do what you can.  Unfortunately, when I started and went back to doing it, there is a whole learning curve where the work becomes more natural.  It becomes more of a sixth sense and unfortunately I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to my work and you’ve got to let that shit go when you are working this way.  Really in any work but this work in particular because there is no room for that.  You are moving at such a fast pace that you just have to make decisions and just go, whereas in a play you really have all these rehearsals where you are discovering stuff and the lines and you have a four to six week rehearsal where you are given that liberty to keep working at it.  Hopefully it pans out where you get a really good performance.

Lena:  So many careers have been launched because of soap operas that it’s a shame that so many of them are being cancelled, including yours, sorry about that.

Jordi Vilasuso:  Yeah, I mean everybody kind of knew that the soap genre was on its way out and the reason that we moved from New York to LA was to save money and to preserve it and hopefully it would last maybe a couple of years.  Nobody thought that it would be over in a year and a half and it just feels too soon.  All these people have to wrap up the show, these characters have to wrap up the storylines and I don’t know where the finality is or where there is closure with a lot of these storylines and it’s a huge cross to bear, in terms of what the writers have to do to really bring closure to these characters, storylines, arcs and relationships.  It’s bittersweet.  I’m having such a good time and I didn’t think that soaps were the end all for me and I’ve done other projects.  I don’t really see myself just as a soap opera actor and I’ve been interested in working in all of the different types of mediums, in terms of acting.  The last couple of months I have been really enjoying it and I just remember when they announced that, it really hit me hard.  I was really starting to go to a place where it felt like these were family members, these were friends and you go there every day and you let loose and it became this really strong community.  It’s saying a lot about what audiences are going to respond to.  Are they really going to respond to a reality show or a cooking show?  Are these stories that evolve on all these outrageous experiences and characters and when they worked they were dramatic and epic storylines where audiences are really affected and that millions of people watched it, is that over?  Are they really going to put that much investment into reality TV?  Are these the new stars of tomorrow?  I don’t know?  I have a hard time accepting that.  I know there’s a craft in what some of these people are doing and not only myself but the writers, directors and the crews really believed that they were doing something and I don’t know how you can do that in a reality sense.

Lena:  I think it’s a bad move for the network.

Jordi Vilasuso:  Yeah, and the response from fans has been crazy.  I get all these things from Facebook and I’m kind of interested in seeing what will happen.  I don’t know if anything will happen but I am just trying to do my job to the best of my ability.  I support it because I believe in the fans and the amount of passion that they have and from audiences across the board.  They are what keeps us growing and moving and keeps me working so we’ll see what happens.  They keep asking what they can do and I don’t know what they can do other then the protest.  I think there is a protest that is going on at ABC in New York.

Lena:  It’s been on since 1970, before we were even born.

Jordi Vilasuso:  I know.

Lena:  Susan Lucci has been in it since the beginning.

Jordi Vilasuso:   Yeah, and she is such a class act across the board.  Everybody really is but for her to be as unassuming and just a pleasure to get to know in not only a work sense but in a personal way.   It’s really cool.

Lena:  She is still so beautiful.

Jordi Vilasuso:   I know, she takes such good care of herself and she is so refined and classy.  She is very humble and she’s really an example that you can have the kind of longevity and have a career in the way that she’s done it.  She’s not only an actor but she’s a brand.  I told her the other day that when I went home to Miami, my dad had all of her products.  He ordered all of her anti-aging stuff.  It was hilarious.  He saw the infomercial and he thought it would be cool and he ordered her stuff.

Lena:   She is the perfect billboard for that.

Jordi Vilasuso:   Yeah, exactly.

Lena:   Moving on to Griffin, a personal request form me, please don’t get a stabbed in the stomach again this season.  How many times are they going to stab you?

Jordi Vilasuso:   Yeah!  They have beaten me up on this show more than any other character.  It’s an ongoing joke.  “Where are you going to get cut this week?”  “Where are you going to get stabbed?”  “Where are you going to get shot or beat up?”  I mean, in the first show I was punched in the face.

Lena:  Well, at least they haven’t shot you in the head.

Jordi Vilasuso:   It’s cool!  I love that I get back up.  As long as I don’t fall down an elevator shaft, I’m happy.

Lena:  Yes, I want to see you in the finale so hopefully they don’t shoot you in the head like your other characters, right.

Jordi Vilasuso:   Exactly!  I’ve been told that I’m there until the end.  I know that they are bringing back another Zack, who I was going to not replace but many fans thought I was because he had died.  His wife and I are going to have a love story which I don’t know how it is really going to pan out.  A lot of fans ask me what is going to happen and I don’t know.  I know usually the week before.  They really keep the stories under wraps.  I’m very interested to work with him and meet him.  He was a great actor and very popular on the show.  I had never received hate mail in my life and I got a lot of hate mail from fans because they thought I was replacing his character on the show.  It’s pretty funny but I was told by somebody that it’s better than getting no mail.

Lena:  Right!  As long as people are talking about you it’s always good, unless it’s something really bad like you being a pedophile or something like that.  You don’t want that!

Jordi Vilasuso:   Exactly!

Lena:  I hope you get to take out creepy Reverend Ricky (Eddie Matos).

Jordi Vilasuso:   That story is going to come to a climax soon.

Lena:  Eddie (Matos) has mastered the art of playing creepy.  I would not want to be alone in a room with him.

Jordi Vilasuso:   I’ve known of Eddie because we had seen each other in audition rooms but I had never really gotten to know him and actually the first time we met was on set and it was like, finally we got to be properly introduced to each other and then we got to work together.  We had been in a lot of rooms together for auditions and stuff.  Yeah, he’s a creepy, hitman priest and only on a soap would you find that.

Lena:  How would you compare Griffin to Tony Santos?

Jordi Vilasuso:   It’s interesting because both of them come from outside their world but Tony was a kid who really needed to grow up a lot.  They both have very strong convictions about what they believe in and are very confrontational when it comes to people coming into or kind of leaning into their ideals and what not.  They both have had trouble with women.  I think that Griffin has been slightly burned before and due to his background, he didn’t want to be too familiar with waiting for someone completely.  He’s in this other world and working with Doctors Without Borders but he has a hard time being with Kendall and putting himself out there.  The way that the writers are doing it, I have had to ask them if I’m ever going to bust a move on Kendall.  It’s bullshit because I know that he has balls.  What’s going on here?  They had told me that there is going to be something that happens but they are really taking it slow because of her husband coming back from the dead.  They are both from very strong families and they care very deeply about their families.  Griffin with his sister and then Tony with his brother, they are very close to them.  I was nineteen when I started playing Tony and now I’m almost thirty playing this character.  Both characters have been older.  I thought Tony was about twenty two to twenty five and Griffin has to be at least thirty five or early thirties.  Griffin is more of a man, he’s learning a lot about love and learning about his character and about what he’s done and for Kendall to accept what he’s done, it goes beyond anything.  I’ve done a lot and I know this is a soap but for him to go out of his way and to risk his life for this woman says a lot about his character.  I have a lot of respect for him so if I can do that and really make it believable.  I will be very satisfied with that.

Lena:  It’s funny that you mentioned that because your fans wanted me to ask you when Griffin is going to hook up with Kendall.
Jordi Vilasuso:   I would say probably in the next month, I think.  I think something is going to happen.  It’s very touch and go and this love story was a huge deal when he left and died and Alicia (Minshew), who plays Kendall, I had judged the pre-Emmy nominations and I had watched her, the leading actress and supporting actor and when he died, the tape that she submitted was gut wrenching.  It’s true that the writers really have to take their time in building the story and I think they did a pretty good job making my character one with high esteem for her to fall in love with.  They did a really good job in terms of me fighting to figure out who ultimately killed her husband and us joining together to take him down.  It’s going to take some time.

Lena:   How far ahead do you film the episodes from the time they air?

Jordi Vilasuso:   A month before.

Lena:  Is it safe to assume that they will end the series as beautifully as it began and give most of the characters some closure?

Jordi Vilasuso:   Yeah, I would say it’s safe to assume that.  It’s so hard because there is a lot of history in the show, like the characters of Jake, Kendall and all these characters that I interact with on the show.  They all have these tremendous love stories from before and they are bringing back all these characters to really give them closure.  Unfortunately for some other actors, I’m not going to name names but they’ve been brought on the show for other characters to fall in love with and it’s been hard for them to swallow and accept because they don’t feel like they have been given what they signed on for.  It’s really out of their hands because nobody knew that the show was getting the axe.  I think we will all be given closure but I don’t think everybody will be given the love story that they want but they will be given closure in themselves to move on in Pine Valley or to leave Pine Valley.

Lena:  That’s good to hear.  Have you had any soap opera moments in real life like stalkers, fights, demon possessions and stuff like that?

Jordi Vilasuso:   Other than that hate mail.  I was just in Florida for my girlfriend’s brother’s wedding and I did get recognized, which is nice.  People are responding to my character a lot but I haven’t had any outrageous stalking fans.  I think the fans get it and they’ve been pretty cool about it but we will see.  I think fan club weekend is happening soon so we will see how it goes.

Lena:  Uh-oh, you’re in trouble.

Jordi Vilasuso:   I bet!

Lena:  They have been saving it for fan day.

Jordi Vilasuso:   Actually, there was one time where I had an appearance in Pittsburgh and it was the biggest thing that I have ever done.  There were a lot of people there and I didn’t get to finish signing autographs for everybody and I had to leave.  Security had to escort me out and as I was leaving there was a car full of cheerleaders chasing my car out to the airport screaming my character’s name out the window.  That was pretty crazy, I guess.  No fans have ever done that before.  That was kind of my rock star moment, if you will.

Lena:  Has anyone ever told you that you look like Billy Zane?

Jordi Vilasuso:   I have had the Billy Zane thing happen.  I get the Mark Ruffalo thing more.  That’s funny, I actually saw Billy Zane in my neighborhood the other day with a baby.  A little, it must have been a month old infant.  He had one of those wraps that I guess men use now when they carry a baby.  It’s like a piece of cloth that wraps around your body.  I guess he has a kid now.  I have heard the Billy Zane one but I get Mark Ruffalo more.  All I have to say is that’s cool and if they ever need a brother or cousin to act with them in something…

Lena:  It’s not an insult because they are both really good looking guys.

Jordi Vilasuso:   Thank you.

Lena:  It’s all in your eyes.  You have those bedroom eyes and the high cheekbones.  That’s not a bad thing.

Jordi Vilasuso:   (Laughing) Well, I guess it works.

Lena:  Speaking of him, I haven’t seen Billy Zane in anything in a while.

Jordi Vilasuso:   Yeah, I don’t know.  I know that he has done some stuff but he was in the biggest movie ever.

Lena:  Yeah, “Titanic”.

Jordi Vilasuso:   Exactly!

Lena:  Over the years you have worked with some incredible people and have taken on numerous interesting roles.  Can you talk about some of your favorites?

Jordi Vilasuso:   I’ve done some TV and I did a guest star role on “Numb3rs” that I really enjoyed.  I’ve done a lot of accent work because people meet me and go, “Jordi Vilasuso, what are you Hispanic, Italian, Greek?”   I’ve done roles where I’ve played a Columbian, a Mexican but I played this one role on “Numb3rs” that I really enjoyed a lot.  It was this huge lead in the show and the show was basically about me, there was a psycho out to get me and stuff like that and people really responded to that.  I loved it.  It was actually the first day of shooting because the show had been on hiatus for months and the first day of shooting with me and I had about sixteen pages, so I guess all the soap training really helped me execute what I needed to do for that day.  I did a play early last year, around April called “Bloodletting”.   I had never done a really long run, like a play and we did thirty five shows.  I really wanted to do something like that and I had known about this play for a while by De Luca, one of Spain’s most famous playwrights.  I had to do thirty two shows in Spanish, very heavy Castilian Spanish.   I had always been made fun of in Miami for my Spanish because my friends were always fluent in their Spanish and my Spanish wasn’t up to par with their Spanish.    I really had to work my ass off to pull off this role.  I actually got a good review and I was really proud of that and that my family was able to see me do that.  I did a movie called “The Line” and I got to work with Andy Garcia, Esai Moralez and Ray Liotta and I got some good feedback on that movie.  I did a show called “Fashion House” which wasn’t something that I was the most proud of.  For some reason God blessed me with a heavy beard and I grew out this really, I tried to pull a Johnny Depp type of thing and grew a moustache and a little goatee and I will never do that again for a role unless I have to play a swordsman from Medieval Times.  I don’t know what I was thinking with that.  The moustache I’ve used a lot in roles and that works but I’ve been told that I look like a 70’s porn star.

Lena:  That’s not a bad thing, right?

Jordi Vilasuso:   No, (laughing).

Lena:  What projects do you have coming up?

Jordi Vilasuso:   So far it’s just the soap.  I really haven’t had a lot of time to do other things.  I just signed on with a great publicist that I am really happy to be working with right now.  I’m getting a manager.  Literally, on average I work four times a week on the show so I haven’t had time to look at other projects.  There are some things that I hear and people will tell me about a meeting but I just want to finish this work out as strong as I can.  I don’t want to get distracted with other things.  I really want to pay homage to the show and then from there I will move on to the next.

Lena:  Any dream roles that you would like to take on?

Jordi Vilasuso:   Yeah, I have a couple.  I would love to do something athletic, whether it’s a boxer or something else.  I did play a role as a bullfighter a while ago.  I would definitely like to do something like that, something that I would really have to train for and be totally committed, body, mind and soul.  That is something that I would like to play.  I think that really helps when you are that good in your own way and really do what you’ve got to do.  Before this role came up, I really wanted to do a romantic kind of role with a woman.  I really haven’t done that, I’ve done people that want to buy drugs or these characters that have lost a lot and had to prove who they were because someone doesn’t believe in them or they are from a family that disowned them.  I really had my eyes set on a romantic role because I haven’t had something like that in a while.  I think my physique and the way that I look really fit that so it was nice that this role really came along when I really wanted to do it.  I love working with Alicia.  She’s great and we get along like best friends so it’s really sweet.

Lena:  Do you have a message for your fans that have supported you since the beginning?

Jordi Vilasuso:   I am so grateful and appreciative that the people have been so supportive of me in this role despite all of the obstacles of playing the new love interest of this character.  Having to come on a show when they have these established characters, so I am really grateful for that.  I’d say that if they want to see the show stay on the air, then really follow your hearts and get out there and protest, why not.  This country is, I think, a lot of it is based on freedom of speech and freedom of expression, you know, we the people.  I think if they want that then they are allowed to do it and it’s good for people to see that, not only for a show but also just in life.  I am also talking to myself right now, if you want something get out there and say something about it.  Do what you have to do and you are not going to do it sitting at home on your computer.  You’re going to do it by getting out there and making a splash.  I love the fact that they put out a one page ad in the Hollywood Reporter, that’s amazing.  I get hits off Facebook all the time saying what they are doing. The Huffington Post wrote an article the other day on what they are doing and there is a lot of love out there.  I am grateful for it and I hope that I can do what’s right by them with my performance everyday on the show.

Lena:  A lot of fans have saved shows just by writing to the networks when shows were cancelled and they had a hand in bringing them back.

Jordi Vilasuso:   Yeah right.  There is always a possibility and I am open to it.  I think that would be amazing.

Lena:  Everything has been getting cancelled lately, though.

Jordi Vilasuso:   I know!  I don’t know if it’s the internet or I think they just have to figure out how to use everything.  The internet is a huge asset and they just have to figure out a way to make money off of it.

Lena:  Yes and we don’t need any more reality cooking shows or reality shows.

Jordi Vilasuso:   No!  I agree.

Lena:  They are cancelling all of the beautiful scripted dramas for that crap.  I don’t know.

Jordi Vilasuso:   We’ll see what happens.

Lena:  Hey, at least go out fighting.

Jordi Vilasuso:   Yeah, exactly.


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