Baker And The Beauty Star David Del Rio On Shooting The ABC Comedy

Every so often, after your girlfriend dumps you for not accepting her proposal, you may find yourself walking the streets of Miami. Sometimes, an international superstar than pulls up on the road and sends you on a whirlwind of an adventure. No? That doesn’t happen to you? Well, it does happen to Daniel Garcia in the upcoming series The Baker and the Beauty, which an adaptation of Israeli series Beauty and the Baker.

But this ABC series features an all-Latino cast and plenty of great talent. We had a chance to attend a roundtable with David Del Rio, one of the stars of the series. In the story, he plays Mateo Garcia, a member of Daniel’s family who watches as Daniel interacts with this superstar. It’s a pretty in-depth conversation, but it’s all sorts of fun.

The Baker and the Beauty airs on ABC on April 13, 2020!

 

Press: Tell us about your experience with filming an all Latino cast.

Del Rio: Listen, I got to be honest. It was, not to sound so unprofessional, a party all the time. I mean like in between takes, whenever we felt like we nailed the take. It was festive and it was very supportive for each other because the idea was to highlight the culture, not highlight individual characters. The individual characters are part of the culture, vice versa. And, we were just very, very happy and just so blown away that we were in this together.

And then with working with 99% of the crew that were Hispanic, I say Hispanic, so no offense anybody, but like, who are Hispanic. It was again, one of those things where we were all part of a team together and everybody was there to tell the story. From the dolly, to the grip, to the light, to the sound, everybody was there just for the story cause we were so, so proud of it. And that’s why it was really, really special to be working with an all Latin cast and an all Latin crew as well. And the other thing was just the ad-libs were hilarious because we would always ad-lib in Spanish all the time.

And I remember that Lisa would always come up to me, Lisa Vidal who plays my mom, Matti, would say are you okay after this… a scene where Mateo would just act up and she would like slap me and I was like, you slap me exactly like my mom, so don’t you change a thing, you need to keep that. So that was, it was really special.

Press: She actually mentioned. She said that you were all similar to her own children, like the personalities even.

Del Rio: She was very similar to my mother. Very, very similar to my mother. Yeah, no. And that was the other thing about the cast, which was just the specific cast. It was unreal how much we were already a family by the time we went out to the first dinner in Puerto Rico. It was unreal! Or in Atlanta, where we shot the pilot. It was unreal how much we vibed. And we were talking about each other’s families. I would tell them about my childhood and they would tell me about theirs and all of a sudden, it was real kismet and everybody working together in harmony and fiery, fiery passion.

Press: You guys shot for five months?

Del Rio: Yeah.

Press: Big chunk of a year.

Del Rio: Yeah.

Press: I want to know what kind of strains, if any, does that put on a married man? You have a little kid though, don’t you?

Del Rio: No, well if you count my French Bulldog as my little kid. I’m obsessed with… So, it’s funny my wife and I made the conscious decision this time and based on how it was, probably every time. We were there together the whole time. I have such a supportive, supportive wife and she came along with me and we just established a home. And, the idea of all the victories that we had together as a married couple, as well as all the stress, we were having it as a married couple together on the island and I found that absolutely, absolutely important.

And she left two weeks before rap. And I was like, “we’re going to need this break.” And then after two, three days, I’m like, “so can you come back, please?” You know, I was just like, it was unreal. And I just think that the strain from being away from just your physical home is that, you’re just in this oasis of just not… can’t pinpoint where you are and there’s a little bit of that confusion where, when you’re away for so long, you try to make a home, but it’s not. You know what I mean? And then, when it’s not a home then you can kind of get stressed or you can kind of just go with the flow. But again, I had home with me, so I was very, very, very lucky. And I think that, that’s going to happen for a while.

Press: That’s awesome.

Del Rio: When she books a job, I’ll be the first one there, ready to support her in any way I can. The way that she supported me.

Press: What we’ve been told you guys became like a family in real life. Your since being an uncle with the Victor situation, right?

Del Rio: That’s right. That’s right. He’s… It’s going to be just… I’m so, so proud of him and Alex and then they’re just going to be amazing parents and I just can’t wait to meet the kid. So it’s going to be really nice.

Press: Do you know why creators chose to film in Puerto Rico instead of Miami?

Del Rio: I think that, I think Puerto Rico gave the essence of a tropical America the same way that Miami gives. And I think that when it comes to shooting by the beaches and shooting by these landmarks. There’s just this firing color about it that, not only we can shape, but kind of live in the same way that Miami has it’s vibrancy, and has it’s color, and has its culture.

And it just, it just worked out. It just worked out. I also think shooting in Miami, you have a pickup shot across the street on Ocean Drive. That’s like $900 million right there. You know what I mean? But it really did, it really did work out. It did work out.

Press: I’m curious. Oh, he says as an actor when you’re in something, do you ever have to kind of separate yourself from being like a producer and director?

Del Rio: Not really. That’s a good question. Not really. Only because you listen in all cylinders, you know what I mean? When it comes to, when it comes to acting, my job there is to live truthfully through the lens and through the view of the director’s point of view with putting my own emotional intelligence on top of it.

The thing is, I would give you the same answer if I was producing or directing. And so, the idea of switching hats has never been a problem for me because I’m there to help. So, if a director is telling me and giving me his or her way of communicating, I know where they’re coming from and I think just behind…

For example, if I’m the actor and I see that they are kind of talking to me in a way of trying to calm me down… Bubba you don’t have to call me down, I’m fine. You and I are here together, it’s fine. You know what I mean? We’re good. I know what you’re trying to do, but I’m here. You know what I mean? If you need to… if you need to say that was a bad take, tell me that was a bad take and I would understand it more so than not.

And then, again, I would go to the director and would communicate to him or her “what do you want?” Listening as a director and I don’t think there is so much of a difference for that. I mean, when I’m a producer, I produced a… it’s in post production now, but a feature film about vampires, starring my wife and Manolo Vergara, Sofia’s son. And it was a very, very cheap thing, but the only difference is when I was producer is, I am in the car all day getting people’s lunch, getting people’s waters. That’s the only difference.

Press: What’s it called?

Del Rio: It’s called the Big Feed. And hopefully we’ll be, hopefully we’ll be releasing in October.

Press: Awesome.

Del Rio: Yeah, yeah.

Press: Radio directed episode.

Del Rio: Hopefully, hopefully, you never know. But to direct a cast like this is to be in a party. So that’s… And I hope that, that exudes on screen, as well. So yeah, I’m excited for it.

Press: Carlos and Lisa both mentioned that, if they felt at any point this was a cheap fix, similarly of what it’s like to be a Latino family or just Hispanic origin.

Del Rio: Yeah.

Press: If you don’t come across as genuine, they would have easily walked away from it. I want to know if, nine episodes now, do you feel you guys did a good job in portraying those… that nuance, that idiosyncratic?

Del Rio: Listen, all I know is that when we were doing the scenes at the moment, we were being genuine to each other. You know what I mean? There’s a lot of aspects that go into a simple frame, right? You’ve got lighting, you got music, you got editing, you got coloring, you got all these things with it. And one can never know how it might come off. But, all I know is that in the moment, while doing scenes we were there for each other and we were there for the story in a very, very genuine way, I think.

And, again the image is much bigger than a romantic comedy or romantic “dromedy”, I would say. It’s much, much bigger than that. And what it’s about is a representation of a culture that’s not represented in TV and film and the only way that we cannot squeeze that juice, is not to make it so on the nose. We are characters living in Miami, living in this thing. We can do the same story, if it was any other culture. The way that I looked at it is this just happened to be Cuban, luckily to be Cuban in my case, but it just happened to be Cuban. We don’t have to… I feel like the more the conversation happens, the more it becomes a fad and it’s not a fad. It’s a real, real thing that’s around us all the time. And the more we put the fad on it, I’m over it. I’m over it.

Press: So how much DJ’ing did you actually do?

Del Rio: Sorry?

Press: How much DJ work did you actually do?

Del Rio: You know, it’s funny. So I had one, you know, it’s funny. When I go to a concert, I don’t like watching DJs because what’s amazing seeing them turn and stuff. I just want to see Jack White on a guitar, you know what I mean? That’s what I like to see as entertainment. But boy was I wrong after my training session with this fabulous DJ and he was talking to me about timing. He was talking to me about the mood of the room, he was talking about that you are the conductor of the mood of the room. You know what I mean? Not everyone wants to do the electric slide, you know what I mean?

And not everyone wants to do the Macarena and not everybody wants Lady Gaga, not everybody wants Ricky… you know what I mean? It’s the idea of reading a room and then also everything being so technical with the BPMs and the beats per minute just and then listening to a song that’s about to come and try to match. I mean, it is a puzzle. So to answer your question, not a lot, but! I did learn a lot. I did, very, very, very much learn a lot.

Press: What about baking?

Del Rio: So here’s the thing. I’m a method actor, okay? And I was playing a baker’s son, so I had to do what I had to do for the character to eat as much pastries as I can. We had a real, real great consultant and trainer.

So, we had a great, great pastry chef and his name was Carlos and he worked in this bakery called El Horno in Puerto Rico and all science. I mean, it wasn’t like going to a Master Chef kitchen and kind of going like, let’s see what I can do with this. No, there’s just so… it’s so delicious within it’s simplicity and it’s not really simple. It’s just once you kind of stick to the ingredients, you’re still going to get as much satisfaction to whatever pastry and baking was important. Baking was important because we really wanted to express the beauty of what happens to all these pastries because the idea of the passion that you put into your work is also reflective of who you are.

And, I think that was really important for us to, to kind of put as much baking into the show as we can. And, I think we definitely, I think we definitely did it.

Press: So you’re a baker now?

Del Rio: Yeah. Yeah, I am done with toasters and Eggo’s. This is me fully baking man and my wife’s a chef, so at least I can do the baking part, as well. Yeah, yeah. Yes.

Press: Eclairs and flan, right?

Del Rio: Eclairs and flan, baby.

Press: Yeah. Carlos said you can make a flan now.

Del Rio: Yeah. And there was… and there was even a moment. Oh my gosh. I’m telling you, there was even, there was this thing called Magnificos, where it was this pastry that was shaped as a rose, but the pedals were thin slices of apple and it was all carameli… Oh my go.. I just, I wanted the day to end, so badly so we can eat it.

And it was and it was so worth it. So, so worth it. And also just being in Puerto Rico too. About the eating too I was like, oh my gosh, I thought I was going to go and do so well. I thought I was going to do so well. But I came back like 40 pounds heavier year and I have no shame in the game. And God bless Puerto Rico for that too.

Press: Do you have siblings?

Del Rio: Yeah I do. So, I have two sisters and one brother. They’re all artists. I mean, my younger sister just turned five, so I guess you can call her an artist cause she’s wild. That I can kind of thank me for. But yeah, my sister, my sister is in the industry as well and then my brother’s in the industry as well and we’re just a big artist family.

Press: So you felt right at home with the whole sibling dynamic on the show as well?

Del Rio: It’s funny that you asked that. When we were first starting out with these characters and talking about the script and stuff, the one thing I really, really wanted to come across is what is family, if not always a ticking time bomb. That we love each other and one second and then snap! We will lovingly scream at each other, pick on each other, hit each other, whatever.

You know what I mean? And, in a Latin family, that is what it was growing up. And what was really important to us is complexity and the dynamics and make it specific in the dynamics, as well. Where we can be in the dinner table and say I love you and I hate you, two seconds later, cause that’s what family is. And so I really wanted to speak to Dean, the creator about it in terms of like, I just want it to be known that, yes it is a show that you can watch where you can just take a breath and just have a sigh of relief.

This isn’t the show where they look in the camera, he goes, “well, he didn’t make it” and then it goes to black and then it’s tick-tock, explosions! I’m the next, shit gets real. What it is that after you see the show you’re like, I needed that right now. Just a little breath of fresh air. And because it’s so light and sweet, that doesn’t mean that we wanted to step up. Also step away from how complex and how ridiculously complicated families are.

Press: Casting is so well done in the show because you guys really look like you could be actual relatives.

Del Rio: Sara Isaacson. That’s all I got to say. Two words. Sara Isaacson, casting director. I mean, I’m so blessed for her ideas in casting. Now, I’ll just say my little tidbit here. I came in for Daniel, Victor’s part and we were… Sara and I were absolutely vibing and like a good casting director she is, she let me do the whole thing even though she knew I was wrong for it. And she said that was really great. “I’m going to bring you back next week or in two weeks in front of the director and producer.” I was like, oh as Daniel, I’m the romantic lead! She said “No, no, no. For Mateo, the more goofy one.”

That sounds a little bit more on point. And so, just kudos to her that she just picked it up at that moment and she wasn’t even thinking always about the individual. And I give a lot of credit to her, and Dean, and Becky Hartman Edwards, and Rachel Kaplan, and all these people and David Frankel.

They were thinking about the family dynamic. That was the one thing that they were concentrating on and it wasn’t entirely about doing chemistry reads. They just knew that the mesh of the individuals together, putting all our headshots together and saying he brings this, she brings this, let’s see how that continues to work. I don’t know how they, I don’t know how they do it. Listen Scorsese says, that 80% of his job is casting and that seemed to have been true here. Not because of talent, but just because of chemistry that was happening on screen.

Press: Nice. Well I think, yeah. Cause obviously like just from seeing you guys interact, there’s a bond there and I think that always transcends onto… Like leaps through the screen. It’s not a common thing always.

Del Rio: Yeah, well I hope so. When we were doing a press junket in Atlanta, they were doing one by one on the carpet or whatever. And, every time an individual person was there from our cast, we were like, “Yes, Queen! Yes! Get it! Get it, get it! Yes!”

And then we were all just playing or whatever and then someone from next door would come around and go, could you like ‘shut the f…’ Was just like, ‘be quiet, please.’ And then, what we decided to do when we were shut up, but then the next person and we’d go.

It does come on screen, I think from the limited episodes that I’ve seen, episode one, two and three. It explodes on the screen, it explodes on the screen. And I don’t want to, I don’t want to push an audience to invite them into our family. What I want and what I hope that audiences get is that they already know who we are a little bit because we know who we are a little bit, to each other. Again, we’re playing a family, right?

So, by the first frame, my character’s 26. That’s 26 years of finishing each other’s sentences, knowing what we’re going to do and all that stuff. That’s really important that we had to really work on. It wasn’t even work, like I said, it was a party. It was an absolute party.

Press: And you’re still at home with your parents, and that’s so lucky.

Del Rio: So Miami. So Miami too, but yes, yes, that is, that is, that is, true. I had a lot friends and family, that’s for sure. That’s the case, but the other thing is too, why I went to college in New York, one bedroom apartment. First year, amazing because I was there by myself. Second year, stressful. Not that amazing, but absolutely beautiful because my brother and two other cousins moved in and so it was the four of us in a one bedroom apartment, circling around who gets the bed, the futon, the floor, and just continuing to circle and continuing to circle. The best, best, best fricking time I’ve ever had.

Press: Where did you go to college?

Del Rio: So I went to the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. They wanted to change the name to make some a little bit better because our school, back then when I went there, was called the School for Film and Television. Right there and knew exactly what I wanted to do, which was film and television. “I think I’ll go there.” That said, the one with the banner that says School for Film and Television and best decision I ever made. I had my mentor. Met my mentor from there and last year I had the opportunity to direct 31 demo reels for my Alma mater. Basically what the school does is that they want to give you tools, literal tools to show casting directors, and agents, and managers, this is how I look on screen. I don’t have to pitch you that I’m a good actor.

Here’s what I can show you. And I had a real pleasure to direct so many actors back then and… It was just so funny too cause they were like, “What can I expect?” I’m like nothing you’re learning because it’s a whole different game, whole different game. You’re not going to see your training on screen, so don’t you dare show any Meisner or any Stanislavski. Yeah, we don’t want to see that stuff. We just want to see people in the moment reacting and making sure it’s affecting them and as a graduate from there, I forget that a lot of the times as well. You know what I mean? Where I kind of just need to recharge and kind of go, Oh, wait a minute. Wait a, I’m listening. That’s right. I’m listening. That’s right. I’m reacting. That’s right. Yeah. I don’t know what the next line is. You know what I mean?

Press: Sure. You mentioned that you shot what 31...

Del Rio: Yeah, 31 students.

Press: Did you see anyone that actually looked like they got it?

Del Rio: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s tough to take… For the people who you might be thinking the opposite end, I never thought of that. Of they’re not going to make it or not.

What I cared about was if I’m casting a movie and I see that same kid, the one thing that I will remember is how well they took direction and it was just all the director needs sometimes. Where it’s just like, I can just remember that, what is your training in this school that has you to listen to the director and kind of translate that to your skill. You know what I mean?

And, that was mind blowing to me just to see from where we started, to where we ended up, and where their reels are, and what their reels became. How far they come in terms of being working actors on a set as opposed to a student looking at me as the graduate. That I would come up to them and go faster and they wouldn’t get into their minds going, well, what does faster mean? What does faster mean? You know how all the actors kind of get a little bit know they just went faster. This is exactly what I asked for. That kind of thing and that was their understanding of that was mind blowing story and I’m very proud of you each and every one of them.

Press: Okay, that’s awesome. Did you ever have any thought of doing comedy? You’re so funny.

Del Rio: Maybe I just did.

Yeah, I did. I did. I did. And that was quite an amazing experience. I mean, I still call him a maestro to this day.

But stand up comedy scares the crap out of me. I respect everybody who does that. I would just, I like just playing characters because characters come even though it’s comedy comes from a real place and that’s where I like to kind of discover it a little bit more.

Press: Do you like to like directing more, producing or being an actor?

Del Rio: I like all of them. I don’t think that I’m telling the story one way or another. I’m helping like-minded artists tell a story one way or another and even if I’m directing an actor, my two features that I directed purposely, I did not act in because I’m still not very confident in that yet, but I feel like I’m acting through them. I feel like when I’m looking at the screen and they’re doing what I’m directing, I feel like I’m feeling what they’re feeling. Therefore, I felt like I’ve acted in those, in those scenes as well. So there were, there’s no difference for me.

Press: Awesome. Thank so much.

Del Rio: Guys, thank you so much.

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Nancy Tapia

Nancy Tapia has been an interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review Media since 2011. Former UCLA Bruin specializes in Operations Management. Covering entertainment has been an unexpected lively journey. Always open to the next, new experience. From solo traveling to adding a new peak to her personal 100 Hike Challenge. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @inancytapia

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