Kevin Alejandro Takes On “Golden Boy” And Reflects On His “True Blood” Experience – Musings Of A Mild Mannered Man

Kevin Alejandro Takes On “Golden Boy” And Reflects On His “True Blood” Experience

Whether he’s playing a stoic cop on Southland, the Dad to gay teen Justin on Ugly Betty or the sexy ‘brujo,’ Jesus on True Blood, it’s hard to take your eyes off Kevin Alejandro. Besides his natural, masculine sexiness, Alejandro is also the kind of actor whose conviction to the craft pulls viewers into whatever he is doing onscreen.

There’s only one problem with Alejandro’s work in some of our favorite TV series – he tends to get killed off, which isn’t a good thing for fans of the Texas native.

Alejandro’s latest role is a bit of a departure for him since he’s not playing the good guy this time around but, instead, a disgruntled detective on CBS’s new procedural drama Golden Boy. When young Walter Clark (played by Theo James of Downton Abbey and Bedlam) comes into a New York precinct and takes the limelight, Alejandro’s Tony Arroyo is anything but happy about it. The series, which comes from Executive Producers Nicholas Wooten and Greg Berlanti, also stars Chi McBride, Bonnie Somerville and Holt McCallany.

We recently sat down with the charming Alejandro in Los Angeles to talk about the new role, his many TV deaths, and also reflect back on his role as Jesus and the True Blood phenomena.

AfterElton: You’re playing something we’re not used to seeing, because usually you play the kind of moralistic, good guy. Do we see Arroyo’s moral line waver?
Kevin Alejandro:
Absolutely. Before Theo’s character, Clark, comes into the picture, my character was the golden boy. You see this kid come in, and it makes him boil. He sees his ambition, which reminds him of himself, and he struggles with being the best. He wants to be the best, no one is going to take it from him. He will do whatever he can to make sure that doesn’t happen, and you see these layers get peeled away. Then you’ll see his family life, and see why he is the way he is.

Theo James (left) is all pretty and stuff and Alejandro is all jelly about it on Golden Boy.

AE: Are a lot of Arroyo’s feelings and actions tied to his ego?
Absolutely. Before Clark, he was in the papers all the time. It was his case, he was the one. You’ll see in the pilot, Theo’s character, Clark, wants to be partnered with him because he’s read about him. It’s like when your student comes up and starts challenging you, you’re like ‘whoa!’ Makes for some good drama.

AE: When you play a character that at least starts out as more of a bad guy, do you want audiences to like him… or at least be interested in him?
Be interested. I want them to like to dislike him. I want them to empathize for him and sympathize and really be angry at him but then understand if they were put in a similar situation. I would like to see the friction between [Clark and Arroyo] become even more heightened. The moment you make them friends is the moment it becomes boring. I’d like to see just how affected both characters could become by each other and whatever kind of things they do to each other. I’d like to see that unfold.

AE: Do we get to see any of Arroyo’s personal life? His romantic life?
Yes. He is married, he has children and that world is definitely explored, greatly. It’s a marriage and it’s full of ups and downs. Those are definitely in there. It’s challenges, there are questions, there is deep love and passion, but there’s everything that comes with a marriage. The case becomes your life sometimes, and to turn it off and to go home at the end of the night is not an easy thing to do. You deal with that. You see him trying to be a father, as well.

AE: Now, your characters tend to get killed off other shows.
[grins] I know. I’m hoping that does not happen anytime soon with this guy, because I’m having so much fun. Hopefully, everyone feels the same way, keep emailing in and saying, ‘don’t kill him, don’t kill him,’ so they don’t kill me. You just never know. I know there are some characters that do die.

Another one bites the dust: Alejandro’s Nate (here with Shawn Hatosy) tragically died on Southland.

AE: Jesus was such a great character for you to play and you’ve never shied away from playing gay characters.
I grew up pretty open, with an open family and…it’s weird coming from a small west Texas town… nonjudgmental. They never really even cared about that. It was never an issue for me. The biggest challenge was my idea of intimacy… it’s with a woman and it’s soft. My biggest challenge was, ‘how do I make that intimacy look legitimately real when the person I’m kissing back has stubble?’ How do I make it so believable that the audience believes it? That was really the only struggle I had with it, was making it believable to the people that it mattered to. It’s the same thing, I’m playing a cop so which audience part do I really want to show [and] want to respect it? A cop. They are our biggest critics [and] it’s the same thing, if I’m playing a gay guy. Who do I want to really believe in it? A gay person.

You know what helped was the genuine relationship and friendship and love between Nelsan [Ellis, who played Lafayette] and me in real life. That it was easy to love him. He’s a great guy and he’s a father and he’s so unlike Lafayette. He’s so shy, he’s a mystery, and it was easy to do that with him.

AE: Now that you’ve been away from the True Blood world, what’s your perspective on it? Did it feel as wacky and crazy as it does from a viewer’s standpoint?
The spiritual stuff was the real challenge. It was interesting to actually do some research in that world, and you’d be amazed at some of the footage that you can actually find online that’s out there of spells and séances and stuff that they do. It was interesting and challenging to be able to go and figure some of that stuff out.

The project as a whole was amazing, and it’s still amazing. That was probably one of the most pivotal moves in my career…taking on that character just widened the audience support. The fans are truly there because they love you. No one’s there to really beat you up, and I got a real sense of real loyalty from fans through that show. I would go back if they asked me today. ‘Hey, would you come back?’ Abso-f***ing-lutely I’ll come back.

Jesus and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) had a sweet love for each other but, alas, it wasn’t meant to last.

AE: Do you feel like there was more story to tell with the Jesus/Lafayette relationship?
I feel like there could have been, but I think it went out in the perfect way because it left everyone wanting more. It’s great to go out before people are ready for you to go. It was very smart and the timing of it, and I had a little bit to do with the way it went out.

I was talking to one of the writers and I knew I was going to die. I was like, ‘what do you think about the idea of having the person that he loves the most have to kill him?’ They ran with it and they created what they created and it worked out really well. That’s one of the good things about dying and everything, it’s I go out in memorable way.

AE: What does a role have to have for you to sign on and get excited about it? Maybe that one thing that any role has to have, that makes you go, “I have to do this.”
It has to be smart, and it has to have layers. I have to be able to look at it and see what another actor would do to it, and be able to give something different from that. Because a lot of roles you can see how people are going to do it, but if I can see that and then see what I could do to make it different, and be challenged by it, then I want to do it.

Golden Boy airs Tuesdays at 10pm on CBS.


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