Ponce says more than ever, his career is evolving to encompass both Spanish language and mainstream projects. And of course, there are his kids to consider – which is why he’s certain that his latest film offering “Free Birds” will make him the “coolest guy at the school drop-off.”
“Now that they are getting older, it’s a lot of fun,” says Ponce, father to four children. “Especially when I do one of these animated films – it’s something for them to get excited about.”
In “Free Birds” – which hits theaters nationwide Nov. 1 – Ponce voice the character of El Solo Lobo, a telenovela actor who inspires turkey Reggie (Owen Wilson) to team up with Jake (Woody Harrelson) to change the course of Thanksgiving forever.
“The telenovela actor I play is someone who came from the bottom and worked his way up,” explains Ponce. “It’s kind of funny since I’ve done telenovelas and I’m bilingual – I have that in common with my character.”
“Free Birds” is an animated feature about a holiday that’s celebrated by Americans of all ethnic backgrounds; a movie that touches on aspects of Thanksgiving that Ponce says he loves most.
“Being born and raised in Puerto Rico, I always find an excuse to celebrate,” reflects Ponce. “I like what it means, that the whole family gets together. Christmas can be a little bit more difficult in terms of scheduling and responsibilities with spouse and family, so I really like Thanksgiving. My favorite part is the pavochon – it’s so good, by far the way to go!”
And while “Free Birds” appeals to Ponce by virtue of his on-screen character and holiday themes, there’s also another aspect of the film the 41-year-old old loves: birds.
“I seem to be addicted to birds,” notes Ponce, who voiced a character in 2011’s “Rio.” “I also have an addiction to puzzles. I love‘Flow.’ I haven’t really played candy crush, which I know everyone loves. I love Sodoku. I just love things that stimulate my brain and I think I’m good with eye-hand coordination. I don’t know if I’m bright,” he jokes. “But I have a high IQ.”
With work on “Free Birds” complete, Ponce is looking ahead to next spring, when he’ll head back to Los Angeles for pilot season and sign on to projects for the coming year. No matter what – whether he chooses to do more English-language movies or Spanish novelas – Ponce says he intends to continue his involvement in the medium through which he first became a household name.
“I’m always writing music for projects,” says Ponce, who hosted “Idol Kids Puerto Rico” last year. “I write a lot, it’s always there.”
But ultimately, says the “Santa Diabla” actor, he’d like to host his own variety show.
“I want my ‘Tonight Show,’” explains Ponce of cementing his crossover fame. “A variety show where I’m on broadcast, singing, acting – doing everything I love.”
“I’m working on the idea, pitching it.”