Alfonso Herrera emerged from a pop world. He does not deny it, nor is he ashamed. It does not have to, on the contrary, that’s where he took the first tools to shape his career as an actor, his true goal. Do not be a singer, do not be an eternal beau. However, it required a lot of intelligence and patience to get off that train in peace, without scandals, without resentments and without a life history on the brink. He came out unharmed!
So he gave a goodbye to the youth idol to leave only the guy who is looking for good projects, with characters that will confront him and allow him to continue learning. He has become demanding and although it seems that Hollywood does not dazzle him, he is thrilled to encounter projects that shake him. He decided to focus on creating a career, building it out of honesty with himself and being very firm about what he wants and where he wants to go. Mexico, United States, Europe… No matter the place, he just wants to continue working on his career.
To interview Alfonso Herrera, better known as Poncho Herrera, took time, we did in the CrossFit 365 of the Condesa colony, after several months. It was not easy, because in mid-2016 was aligned in his life the perfect combo. He made the big leap. The last thing he filmed in Mexico was the TV series El Dandy and part of the movie The Chosen, but since he signed for the Netflix series, Sense8, now with the Wachowski sisters, the international work has not stopped: he followed the TV series The Exorcist for Fox Networks and continues with the conduction of the program La Ciencia de lo Absurdo of the channel NatGeo.
Interview of The Red Bulletin México
You’ve had a lot of work, but it seems like you’ve refined the selection of your projects, when did you decide to do it?
“I decided that the important thing is to continue learning. Have that hunger to continue doing it”.
Have you become more demanding?, do you have more filter when choosing a job?
“I like to tell stories and the characters are incredible; they had to say something. First they change you, then generate a change. Once Damián Alcazar approached me, before filming The Perfect Dictatorship, and he said: ‘It’s good that you are becoming aware of what you mean.’ If we all become aware of what we want to convey, the perspective of our work, everything changes. Many times there are characters in which you can play it easy, but if you do not go straight or do not get you out of your zone… Like… for what?”.
What Damián told you …
“That made me very much echo, because in the end I did have to stop to see where I wanted to go, what and how I wanted to do it. But, of course, also enjoy it”.
This handbrake requires a 360º review of what we are …
“Yes, be very aware of who you are at that time. I believe that I continue in a learning process that has helped me to continue and continue to enjoy the projects”.
What is your hunger?
“Keep learning, keep working, it does not matter if it’s in the north or the south. Every time they ask me what kind of characters I would like to do, I respond: ‘I do not know’. But when they arrive, it’s when I say, ‘No, it’s incredible! This is what I want to do!’”.
This hunger sometimes makes you have to swallow a shitload of work, but it’s not your case …
“When you choose a project it can take you four months. When I made The Chosen, we started in January and finished it in July. Only that project was already much. In the case of Sense8, where there was a process of physical preparation, the first season took me from May to September 2015. When I did The Exorcist, I recorded the pilot in March and finished it in September. These are extremely long processes”.
What are the differences with shorter projects, where you do not have to prepare so much?
“No, no… You have to keep preparing, but you have to solve much faster. In these long processes you can have much more preparation, you can have more planning, there is a much more extensive table work”.
Do you have more time now?
“Yes, I do. And I look for it too”.
Do you think having much more time to prepare yourself is what allowed you to make that leap?
“Well, I do not know, I feel more comfortable preparing a little more, studying more, having more time to work with people, simply. Once I made that stop to see where I was, I could also see what my strengths and weaknesses are, polish them… Obviously, I work a lot more my weaknesses”.
In the process of weaknesses, how do you actually change them?
“With work… Working! Taking myself seriously what I’m doing. If you are going to make a character you have to work. Time gives you the possibility to discover it, work with the director, with the creative ones and they give you feedback, which feeds everything”.
Out of false modesty and in an exercise of introspection, what are your strengths and weaknesses?
“I do not want to delve, because it gives me a little modesty, what I want to say is that you must be tremendously honest with yourself”.
Most people are not honest, they do not want to look at their scolding and just look at how beautiful or how good others do, how do you do to see how bad you are?
“Being authentic. It’s a job of sitting and listening to what you’re doing wrong, because you can often have different perspectives, the one I have of me, the one you have of me and the perspective that really exists. You have to be open to feedback from others and that is very valuable, because there is a phrase that says it all: ‘Do not kill the messenger’”.
Have you always had feedback, or did you develop it throughout your career?
“I’ve always had it”.
I mean, do not you have a problem with someone coming in and telling you your truths?
“Look, honestly, because I have already been told everything in the career I have had and in the end, I have been very firm in what I want and where I want to go. If I had focused on what was said, how I was perceived, I would have stayed in a very specific place. That is a strength that I have, my tenacity; but it has been a very nice process to want to set a goal and take a constant step towards where I want to go”.
This is part of a personal, introspective work… very much of the actor, right?
“Not only the actor, it is a job that you have to coexist in a set, which has to do with the acting profession, but also with the person-to-person relationship. What happens is that many times in a set is where you learn, from team work, and involves listening and also that they listen to you”.
Now that you’re working at an international level, what’s going on there?
“They are exactly the same iron. Up or down are the same irons. The only thing that changes is your vision, your attitude and your commitment to the project”.
But what difference do you find when you work in Mexico when you are involved in international productions?
“Time… You have more time to prepare. The difference, sometimes, only has to do with the limitations that we face in our country, although the way you work in Mexico gives you some very important tools, because having a little time you have to solve faster, be alert”.
Of those two environments, international and Mexican, is not one better than another?
“I think the best thing is to keep working”.
“After The Chosen, the first time a Mexican movie premieres directly to the Netflix screens and in 190 countries, wait for the confirmation of the second season of The Exorcist. By the way, many people thought it strange that the holy grail of terror was played to make a series. When the pilot came to me, I said, ‘Do not touch, this is very rare,’ and when I read it, I said, ‘Do not you, this is very good!’ The great thing is that there was a Mexican character and this was completely out of the cliché that is handled in the movies or TV series about how we see Mexicans in the United States. These are also the stories I want to tell… Beyond the series, which is incredible”.
Maybe the question is very obvious, but why is it so important not to create stereotypes?
“Because at the end of the day it’s a lie and it’s like taking the easy way”.
What do you think we Mexicans are?
“What I want and wanted to give to that character, in specific, is that as culture we are a tremendously rich thing, that we are not that stereotype and that it is wrong the way in which they see us. I think it’s also our responsibility to say it and do it”.
But in the world of entertainment, where you follow the clichés, it is also true that you work with the face and body, however, how far does this hold?
“I think what matters is your job and you invest in what you decide. If you only do it physically, the expiration date is very fast. Then you have to invest in other types of things, you have to invest in projects that are interesting, worthwhile characters… That way, the only thing that is going to happen is that you do not depend entirely on it. I’ve tried to diversify a bit more… And that’s it!”.