Interview with Francisco Reyes
New York City- As I head into one of the conference rooms in the HBO building for my interview, my mind races with the idea that I have a chance to speak to a Prófugos. Well… in reality the actor who plays Salamanca, Francisco Reyes of the series. It was only hours before that I was sitting at the edge of my seat chomping on some popcorn, watching a beautifully edited action packed television show about to make its US debut. This series traces the intricate lives of 4 men who learn to depend on each other as a drug hit goes awry. I was at the screening of the premier showing of the new HBO Latino original series shot in Chile titled simply Prófugos. Just hours later I entered the room full of PR representatives. They gave me the cue to come in and begin. Across the room there was a finely groomed wiry built distinguished man getting up from his chair ready to great me. I bade my hellos to everyone leaving the gentleman for last. I was thinking this man must be a producer or another rep. Instantly, the PR rep from across the room does the introductions, and I had to do a double take. Wow! Salamanca looks amazingly different in person. I immediately took note the striking contrast from the actor and the character. Francisco greeted me warmly. He had no resemblance to the gray steel look Salamanca had in his eyes as he pierced through with his stare at the individual who had gun point blank in his face on the screen the night before. The character in the series is a single father who is trying to hide a terminal illness from his partners in crime as well as family members. Salamanca’s goal is making his last drug hit for one of the strongest cartels in the region. The purpose is to rake in the money. This hit gone sour was to be the jackpot his estranged daughter was to inherit to give her the fighting chance to live a financially stable life. Through out the story the audience learns the individual profiles of the characters. Each of the 4 Prófugos has their own story and living a double life. Far from being deserters as the title of the series leads you to believe, they stick together by choice and for survival. The writing of the storyline adds dimensions and depth to these personas. The uniqueness is identifying who really is the villain and who is truly the hero during this cliff hanging series.
Having to blink myself back into the reality of the interview; Reyes and I sit down and after a quick scan of the room we begin. Rummage for my phone my phone and press record.
“What most recall recently of Chile here in the U.S. is what recently happened in the news between the quake and the miners,” I commenced and continued, “what can one take away from this series about Chile that would make them want more?”
“My country is a beautiful country… HBO did a great job and I was very proud of them to see the beauty of Chile…The landscape is gorgeous and they were able to capture that very well. We are a proud people who are naturally loving and caring and you can see that even in that in the characters regardless of their roles.”
“You are a father,” as I continued the lively dialogue, “Salamanca is a father… but unlike he, you are not a narco-trafficker. Where did you draw from to build his persona?“ Reyes pauses, leans back in his chair, and with a sly smile only Salamanca could pull off, responds, “Well, yes I am a father of 3 boys and 2 girls… mine are adults. Like Salamanca I am a father,” he asserts “but the truth is Salamanca is not a narco-trafficker in my eyes; the trafficking of drugs in this story serves as a passport for the audience to learn about the interpersonal relationships of those that lead lives in these types of stories. These stories are very common in the region. The reality is this is a human-interest story. Prófugos is an intimate evolving story among the 4 characters. In other words, Prófugos is the story of those behind those who are the narco-traffickers.” After a thoughtful pause, Reyes continues, “I got my idea of how to play the role of Salamanca, from a friend who like Salamanca was an ex revolutionary and fought the Chilean dictatorship.” As I nod and take notice of his shift in demeanor you can see the passion and drive he has for his craft. “Do you like what you do?” I saw that question and could not help asking. “But of course, I love my job. I enjoy so much acting and bringing this character to life,” he replied exuberantly.
Francisco Reyes known in his homeland for being an actor both on the small and big screen comments that he enjoys the cross over into the United States. He hopes that the audience enjoys Prófugos and looks forward to doing more production both domestically and internationally. His passion for the arts, his family and his country is what drives him. “I love what I do. Whether it is in Chile, Europe or anywhere for that matter. HBO did an amazing job.” Reyes a true gentleman and in complete command of his craft demonstrates to all of us especially Latinos in the U.S. that we are all one people with an insurmountable dimension, love for family and capacity to touch the lives of so many
This must see series Prófugos premieres on HBO Latino on Monday, September 24th at 10 PM/9C and airs every weeknight at 10 PM.
By Carmen Luisa Coya