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Interview Carlos Ponce || Tales of a Spanish charmer

Bibi Nurshuhada Ramli bibiramli@nst.com.my

Actor Carlos Ponce tells Bibi Nurshuhada Ramli why he decided to play a spoilt, disruptive man in the Spanish telenovela Perro Amor

DO any of you remember watching Spanish-language soap operas such as Rosalinda and La Usurpadora, and being addicted to its sensual romance and twists in drama?

Fans may want to catch Diva’s new telenovela Perro Amor (Cruel Love). Premiering today, it has all the elements that make for a good and entertaining watch.

It is a light-hearted romantic comedy set in Miami. Two lovers, Antonio (Carlos Ponce) and Camila (Maritza Rodriguez) try to live a life full of adventure, passion, conquests and bets. But they have one rule: There should be no love between them nor for anyone else. Love is a game and the one who falls in love loses.

Its handsome lead actor Ponce only has positive things to say about the show. In a phone interview recently, he says: “It is something different, out-of-the-box, creative and edgier than the roles that I’ve played before.”

“The male lead roles in some of these telenovelas can be very square and grey. They go through the same type of sufferings and sometimes they can get a bit boring. But for Perro Amor, the moment I read the script, I became intrigued.”

Another pulling factor for Ponce was that Perro Amor has a rather male-centric role, unlike most telenovelas where almost everything is about the female lead. Ponce, however, did have some reservations before accepting the role.

“Antonio was fun to play but he is dark in terms of personality so I was just wondering what the public perception would be. How do you make a not-so-likable character a lead? It’s challenging. But I love it.”

To portray Antonio, Ponce did some research on TV characters whom viewers love to hate and what they have in common. “For example, Doctor House is a male chauvinist, treats women badly, yet he’s likeable.

“I am about to play a jerk but I don’t want people hating me. So I try to find my own little twists and turns.”

The 41-year-old Puerto Rican actor began his career in 1994 and starred in numerous soap operas before landing roles in American productions, including 7th Heaven and Beverly Hills, 90210.

Ponce has also gone into music — he has an eponymous album under his belt and has been to Malaysia for a showcase. He does hosting too and voice acting, as in the Hollywood animations Free Birds and Rio.

Ponce shares more about the show below.

Q: Describe your character. What do you love and hate about him?

Antonio is a rebel and does things that society frowns upon. Antonio is loud, doesn’t fit into the culture, obnoxious and rich.

Q: Do you see any similarities between Antonio and you?

None whatsoever. He is just this guy that has no respect for the world. It’s all about him. He is egoistical, selfish and everything has to go his way. He has been born with a silver spoon in his mouth and he just embraces that and takes it to the next level.

Perro Amor is a story of love and romance. What will viewers learn from it?

That love can help and transform a person, even someone as derailed as Antonio. The storyline is fun and intriguing with amazing twists and turns. You think you can’t resolve something at the start, then suddenly there is a sharp turn and the game changes.

You work with several female co-stars in this show. The chemistry is important. How do you create that?

Usually many actors take on a project and straight away create their characters. For me, it’s very important to have some preparation, especially if you don’t know your co-workers or the actors and actresses partaking in the project. Some ways to create that chemistry is by having table reads and hanging out so that we get to know each other better.

Are there any memorable moments during filming?

Oh, I am a jokester. I’m always playing practical jokes so I’m sure some of my co-workers are going to have some memories that they are not very happy about (laughs) but that’s the only way to keep the mood light. From interrupting their scenes, to changing quickly at the back and coming out with a different outfit that does not fit the scene, or just putting on a wig — it’s good to break the tension sometimes.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from being on the show?

When I see these telenovelas generating worldwide appeal, it (the success) definitely takes a lot of effort and each of us put a lot of love into it. It’s a humbling experience just to see all the places that this show is reaching and all the different languages it has been translated into. It is produced with a lot of love and seeing the results is simply magnificent.

You have been acting for years. Where do you see yourself in five years? Would you go into directing?

Yes, I’d love to. There are so many things that I would love to do. I don’t allow anyone to put me in a little box and restrict me in the industry. I have hosted in both English and Spanish. I have had record deals, and acting and producing in both languages too. I guess I would look at expanding my craft... to learn a new language specifically for a role, if I can. As for directing, I have written some scripts that I’d love to see on the big screen eventually. I am ambitious and unstoppable.

What kind of roles would you like to play next?

A comedic one. That has always been my favourite and I have always leant towards comedy. I love any project where I can create a character, enjoy myself and enjoy making fun of myself.

Are there any directors or actors you would love to work with in the future?

Plenty! But I just had the chance to work with (director) Paul Feig and that was a dream come true. I took a very small role on a very big movie just to have the experience. It’s called Spy, starring Jude Law, Jason Statham and Melissa McCarthy, among many other star cameos. It opens in cinemas next year and most of the film was shot in Budapest.

You have four young children. Do you encourage them to pick up acting?

I don’t, because it’s a tough business. But if they do, I would be supportive. I would rather that they play golf for a living (laughs).

Perro Amor airs Mondays to Fridays at 5.10pm on Diva (Astro Channel 702).


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