By BRUCE DENNILL
Cuba-born, bilingual actor Carlo Arrechea is a star on the rise in Hollywood, making his US prime time debut in the CBS hit TV series S.W.A.T. where he portrayed ‘Gio Torres’, a middleweight Cuban boxer, aka “The Caribbean King.” In the series, Torres is a prize fighter set to win a huge upcoming match when his pregnant wife if kidnapped and held for ransom. He enlists the S.W.A.T. team and works with them to retrieve his wife right in time for the delivery of their first child.
A third-generation actor, Arrechea’s career began at the age of six, when he played the son to his biological mother in a telenovela in his home country. He fell in love with the craft and was selected as one of the stars of the children’s show Los Chicos Altura. In 2012, his family moved to Miami and faced a culture shock that made him rethink acting. He decided to study psychology in college but dropped out after only one semester to return to his passion. It was during this time that he got into theatre and received attention for his stage performances.
Can you distill what it is that you love about film or television acting particularly – over other types of performance such as theatre?
What I love in particular about film acting is the creative process. You usually have more time to prepare with the material and you can dig in further for your character choices.
Are there aspects of the craft of acting that are different in front of a camera than when performing for a live audience?
Yes, definitely. When you’re performing for a live audience, everything is bigger, from your movements to projecting your voice so the audience can hear you. And the main responsibility of television and film performance is that less is more. No exaggerated sound or movement is required, because the camera and the microphones are capturing that.
Film and television can involve an enormously lengthy creative process, with months or even years passing between coming on board via auditions and the premiere of the piece. What’s that like emotionally as a performer – investing heavily in something and then having to wait?
It can definitely make you anxious, that waiting game, but the way I see it, it’s more about enjoying the process and having fun while you’re doing it than letting it go. Humans don’t like to wait. We want everything right this second and the real beauty in life is in the present moment – digesting the now and making the best of it.
How important is a message for you in terms of the types of stories you prefer to get involved with? Are you part activist (and if so, for what causes), do you want something that primarily presses artistic buttons, or is it a matter of simply working first and foremost? (Perhaps it’s a mixture of all three…).
The right roles always find the actor. I want roles that challenges me and make me grow as an artist and a human. I want quality work, not quantity. I’m an activist of love and a student of life. I wish we could start connecting more with our heart and less with our ego. And treat each other with respect, love, equality, compassion and human dignity.
What do you need from a director? Conversely, what won’t you put up with from a director?
What I need from a director is co-creation at its best. At the end, we both are aiming for the best performance. I won’t put up with a director that doesn’t want to collaborate or is not open to listen.
Does the way a film or show is distributed make a difference to you – the impact of the big screen and epic sound in a cinema versus a film or series being watched on a laptop or phone? Please answer as both a performer and a fan.
As a performer and a fan, I feel that watching a piece on the big screen with an epic sound design is definitely a better experience, because you get to appreciate every single little detail of the piece more than on a laptop or a phone.
Tell us about playing Gio Torres in S.W.A.T. and why he was satisfying to play?
Gio Torres was a dream to play. It was my US primetime debut. This role is very special to me because as a Cuban-born actor I got to portrayed a Cuban character with so many layers and colours on television. I had so much fun embodying this role. It was a lot of character work and I trained hard to give my best performance.