Puerto Rican star Carlos Ponce has wowed with his charming baby blues, vocal chops and acting skills, rocking telenovelas in Spanish and TV sitcoms and movie gigs in English.
On the small screen, we've seen Ponce charm his Latina telenovela co-stars and portray the stubborn but loveable brother-in-law Felix on the recently cancelled ABC comedy "Cristela." Now, he appears in the hilarious spy adventure "Spy," in which he plays CIA agent Matthew Wright who stirs things up for agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham).
During the filming for "Spy," Ponce was surrounded by the contagious energy and humor of its stellar line-up that also includes Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Miranda Hart.
"Ya know, it's exactly what you called it, it's a great ride!" Ponce told Latin Post in an exclusive interview. "It's a great group of people, it's a fantastic ensemble."
According to Ponce, every morning the cast would sit together at a big table and exchange stories and anecdotes -- "this was where the chemistry was created, I think."
In "Spy," "Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency's most dangerous missions. But when her partner (Law) falls off the grid and another top agent (Statham) is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global disaster."
According to Ponce, not only was the cast impressive, but the production was "brilliant."
"They have a talent for surrounding themselves with the right crew and the right people to take this to the next level, so that everybody at all points was having a great time, felt comfortable and were allowed to be themelves and improvise -- and do great work at the end of the day."
"Spy" is written and co-produced by Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids" and "The Heat") along with Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Jessie Henderson. The film reportedly came in first this weekend with $30 million at the North American box office and has earned $56.5 million abroad for a grand total of $86.5 million.
One of Ponce's highlights during the filming of "Spy" included a testosterone-friendly moment with the stoic and unexpectedly humorous Statham, who knocks 'em dead as a headbutting duo alongside McCarthy.
Ponce pumped some iron with Statham, who is most known for his serious and fierce roles in "Crank," "Snatch," "The Transporter" and, more recently, "Furious 7."
"I had the chance hang out with Jason Statham because we happened to go work out around the same times.He was a little intimated by me at first," Ponce joked, "but then ya know after a while he realized it's OK, and that you don't have to lift that much. ... Yeah, I showed him. Hey, hey, hey, I don't have to kick above your head in order to show you that I am the man! ... No, he's quiet; he's a good guy!"
Statham impressed many with his presence and role, including movie deity Leonard Maltin who wrote in his Indiewire review: "I never could have anticipated that this stone-faced action star would become a great comic foil, but Feig has pulled off the casting coup of the year. Statham delivers and provides one of Spy's funniest running gags," USA Today reports.
Jokes were in abundance and Ponce is psyched to see the bloopers that will eventually make it onto the DVD.
"I could just imagine all the things that didn''t make it because there wasn't enough time ... They were (bloopers) on set at all times. I am dying to see them, when they come out with the DVD that has all of those crazy things. That's always my favorite and I'm sure there's plenty," he said.
Joking aside, it was bittersweet for Ponce to recall his role as Felix in "Cristela," which wasn't renewed for a second season on ABC. Cristela Alonzo made TV history as the first Latina to write, produce and star in a self-titled network series.
"It was great. Again, I think that it was something so innovative that a young Latin American girl could create a show and write it and produce it and just take it to the next level, and have America watch a very, very real story in a very funny way. I thought it was genius."
While he sadly has to depart with his character, Felix, he got a thrill out of playing the role.
"The thing is that each character was based on a real scenario," he said. "These were real members of her family. ... We didn't try to make them relateable to other people but to exactly what she lived."
What's next on the horizon for Ponce?
"Whatever comes my way, right? In Spanish, there is a saying that you dance to whatever song they play," he explained. "That's what I like. In general, I love this career. I love the fact that I get to... not to reinvent, but not be afraid of exploring and of course improvising. I always educate myself as much as I can and train and go to workshops to not disrespect the general public -- at the end of the day, they're your bosses."
Ponce likes to dabble in all genres from drama to comedies.
"What I don't like is doing the same thing," Ponce added. "The monotony is the only thing that I despise. ... I love novelas. I have a lot of fun with that. I know that people really embrace them and they sell in different countries and cities all around the world. The movies have just a different reach. I like it all in general. I know that they are different but I like it."
Despite "Cristela's" cancellation, Ponce is forging ahead with hopes that he can help bring more Latinos to mainstream television.
"I am also working on a format that we want to present to some of the networks. We want to pitch kind of like a variety thing..."
Can he dish any more details?
"No..." he laughed. "It will be for TV for now."