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We can find Alfonso Herrera on the cover of the Open Mexico magazine of the month of April with an exclusive interview that the magazine made him to promote his latest project, his return to the theater with the play Dead Poets Society. You can read the full interview below, as well as see the full photo session.
On the eve of saying goodbye to his character in Sense8, the actor also puts aside his exorcist cassock to get into the skin of John Keating, a literature teacher who shakes the lives of his students in the play Dead Poets Society…
To many it would be difficult to reconcile the idea of a pop star and protagonist of a series in an important American channel with the punctuality and disposition in which “Poncho” was handled in this photographic session. During the conversation, we verified that not only is he a professional but also an artist who does not deny the past and who continues to be excited by the projects in which he is involved.
You started in theater 17 years ago and you return to the stage with Dead Poets Society. Why this play?
I really wanted to work with Francisco Franco. He is a very complete director who has done television projects of very good quality, perfectly understanding the format and times. His first film –Quemar los naves– won two Ariel awards and the theatrical plays he has done have been very popular. The adaptation that he made of Everything about my mother to the theater seemed incredible to me.
On the other hand, going back to work with Claudio Carrera and Tina Galindo gives me great pleasure and enthusiasm. They are very serious people, who understand this art perfectly and this is a staging that helps us remember what really motivates, moves and inspires us. The work speaks of poetry and I had to delve a little deeper into the romantics -Walt Whitman and Percy Bysshe Shelley- and learn more about their work because John Keating -the main character- relies on those poets to inspire their students. I think the situation that we are going to spend this year is quite peculiar and a story of this nature can help us remember what it is that moves us and ask ourselves, what would we sacrifice to carry out what we like?
From Amar te Duele’s bully hurting to Father Tomás from The Exorcist, what moments do you keep from your career?
I believe with everyone. From that first film to Rebelde, which gave me the possibility to travel throughout Latin America and have a massive exhibition. That is something that I appreciate very much. Your past is part of who you are and while you are walking, you are projecting where you want to go. For example, The Perfect Dictatorship was very important in my career and I deeply thank Luis Estrada because it was very risky because of the current situation, and I think there was a very strong background and I assumed that responsibility that I had to tell, with a message that had to be transmitted.
Your first intention was to become a pilot and from that truncated dream we jumped to the failed project of Urban Cowboy. How was that experience?
It was an interesting experience because after making Sense8 they began to open doors. The North American market is difficult and although you have done important things in your country, really that market does not care so much. I received an invitation from Fox to meet with the casting team and producers of the channel where they offered me Urban Cowboy and I found it interesting because of the opportunity to work with Jim Belushi. I saw him perform a monologue to five cameras that ultimately never appeared, but it was incredible. I was also excited to work with Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow), but it was something that was there and I was satisfied to see the result. Later, because of decisions that were not mine, it did not materialize, but a very good relationship with Fox was generated and I was invited to work in The Exorcist. The same casting team took me with the showrunner Rolin Jones (Weeds, Amy Given Sunday), with Jeremy Slater and Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes). The fact of working and sharing scenes with Ben Daniels and Geena Davis has been great.
Were not you afraid to play a classic like The Exorcist?
I commented it with Rolin and he told me: “If we make the second best exorcist we’re going to win”, because getting to the movie is really complicated. It is the holy grail of horror films and one of the greatest films in history. When the pilot introduced me, I told my agents and my manager: “This is a terrible idea”. How can you introduce yourself to a project inspired by The Exorcist? It’s very dangerous. But I started to read and understand the characters and see that connection with the film and the hypothesis of what happened 30 years later, following the path of a young priest going through a crisis of faith and that duo he does with another experienced priest. I did the pilot knowing that I had to go through many filters and after we passed them we said: -This is great! We received very good reviews and the same study motivated us to continue.
Did it take long time to get an audience?
Yes. It took time to get noticed because we were going through a complicated schedule (Friday night), but it was progressing despite that and we are already in the second season.
Will there be a third season?
We do not know. We are depending on the Fox/Disney merger. We do not know if new people will come to value the contents. Who knows if Mickey Mouse is going to like The Exorcist.
Was it hard for you to work in English?
At first, the studio was a bit worried about my accent. I told them that if they wanted a Mexican father, why would they change the accent so much (because they wanted him more American). Both the producers and the director decided that it had a Mexican accent and that it was an asset for the story, putting it in a fairly solid and real context.
What was it like working with the Wachowski sisters?
Amazing. I am very grateful to Lana, Lilly and James (McTeigue) because they had a lot of patience. Especially in this second season, Lana was very generous because I was filming the second season of The Exorcist while they were doing the two-hour special with which Sense8 closes.
Seeing how both Lana and Lilly Wachowski work and working with John Troll -one of the world’s leading photographers- was spectacular.
How do you see these new platforms and the opportunity they give to produce material without the restrictions of public TV?
I think it’s a good opportunity to democratize the media: you can see the contents at the moment and on the platforms you want. You do not need to be sitting at a specific time or waiting for someone else to dictate when and how many ads you have to see. Your eyes already have some freedom -so to speak- and that is something that I applaud enormously because everyone has wanted to get on that wave.
Before emerging #MeToo, which shook the entertainment industry, you were already involved in causes of feminist vindication like #HeForShe. At what time did that become important to you?
Feminism is a struggle for human rights and I believe that we are all equal. We all deserve to have the same rights and no differences should be made. If I have the opportunity to have a microphone in front of me to say something about it and support these and other causes, then go ahead.
What about the future? Are there plans for another season of La Ciencia de lo Absurdo or to make movies?
I think so. It would be a sixth season of the series and if that happens we will share it at the time. Apart from the play, I’m planning to make a TV series in Mexico and -at the end- a film project.