I had a chance to sit down with actor Mac Arellano for an interview this week, and what a dedicated and brilliant actor he is! Read below to find out more about this incredible talent.
PL: Where are you from?
MA: I was born in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico.
PL: How and when did you first get into performing?
MA: It’s a funny story actually, when I was 8 years old my brother and I enrolled in a summer theater class at the Centro de la Cultura de Zapopan, mainly because my brother, who was a little bit older than me, wanted to meet a girl that was supposed to be in the same class so he asked for my “support”. We showed up the first day but it turned out that the girl never enrolled in the first place. My brother never came back, but I stayed for more than 10 years! The Centro de la Cultura de Zapopan provided all kinds of art classes – ballet, painting, drawing, sculpture and of course drama and theater. I took everything! I knew I loved the arts, but there was something special about the theater. The rest of the classes came and went, but the theater was always present. In the end, acting was the art form that I connected with the most, it was the one that aloud me to communicate what was truly in my heart.
PL: Who were some of your biggest inspirations?
MA: Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro were my biggest inspirations, even at a very young age I was really amazed by their performances, I loved how committed they were to their characters.
PL: Can you tell our readers a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done?
MA: I worked on a sitcom for HBO Access called “The Failures,” it’s a pilot that was produced by Joe Ferris Films Inc., and it incorporates a very modern and interesting approach to comedy. The show follows four guys who have been friends since kindergarten as they get together for the father of the Riley brothers (two of the main characters) funeral. During the first episode the camera follows the group on a road trip where they spend time remembering, and pretty much hating, the abusive father all over again. I play the role of Martinez, one of the four main characters and Mike Riley’s best friend. The pilot was filmed in Los Angeles and is currently in postproduction, we should know the release date by September.
I recently worked on a film called “Graduation,” which is currently in postproduction as well, where I play a middle-aged father and widower named George. George is a hard worker who was got married and started a family at 20, only to watch it crumble in his 30s when his wife dies. George’s daughter Dana is all he has left and he wants the best for her, but everything changes when she gets pregnant and decides to give up school.
I also worked on the film “The Call” where I play Marco, an illegal immigrant who needs to report a crime but can't because he fears he may lose his freedom. He is an artist and a poet, who also works as a cook in a restaurant. A new friend offers to help him report the crime, but it forces Marco to reveal his past.
PL: They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these films?
MA: As an actor, is very important for me to have as many life experiences as I can so I can use them in my work. It is a challenge for me as an actor when I find a character that is so far from my personal life, but at the end of the day those are the performances that I value most.
PL: You get approached all the time to work on films with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
MA: There are different factors that I consider; first of all I have to like the project as a whole not only my character, if you are in love with the project the rest will fall in to place. I like characters that are complicated, and have many layers and dimensions. Characters that will challenge me as a performer, and that I know will help me learn more about myself, and the human condition, those are the ones that appeal to me. I try to have fun with every role, and I really enjoy the work that goes into the creative process before we actually come to the set.
PL: Can you list some of the theatre projects you've participated in up until now, and the roles you’ve played?
MA: In “Tastoanes” I play the role of Santo Santiago, the religious leader that exhorts the people to fight against the rebels. The play is about the change of religion from when Mexico’s indigenous people worshiped many different Gods to the time when Santo Santiago spread Christianity. “Que Planton!” is a musical about ecology and the idea of saving the world through plants. I played the role of the Mango who brings the sensual aspect to the play in a very funny way. Memo Mendez created all the songs, as well as the original idea.
“Quien anda ahí?” is a comedy about a married couple that has to fight two dumb smugglers who run in to their home by accident. The two thieves try to get away as soon as possible explaining that there has been a mistake, but the couple wants them to get violent or at least do something because their lives are so boring, so in the end, this little “accident” brings them the excitement that they were missing in their relationship.
PL: What has been your favorite role so far and why?
MA: The role of Definitely Santo Santiago definitely has a special place in my heart. We performed the play in the two most important theaters in Guadalajara and it was a huge production. Another role that I really enjoyed was the role of Martinez in the sitcom “The Failures.” The director, Joe Ferris, really believed in working with long scenes with very little editing which gave the show a very interesting and intimate look. I really loved the chemistry we created organically with the characters.
PL: As for genre, what is your favorite? (Comedy, Drama, Horror, etc.)
MA: Comedy has been an important part of my career. It is the genre where I feel most comfortable and it is where people know me best, but I also grew up in the theater where I worked on a lot of big dramas. I’ve worked on plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov and Tennessee Williams, and I absolutely love them all. Now that I’m working on more films, I really look for those dark characters with very dense and depressing lives. So dramas and thrillers are also my favorites.
PL: What projects do you have coming up?
MA: Right now I’m working on a film called “Muñecas,” where I play the role of Oscar Villa. Oscar lives in a small house in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora where he produces black tar heroin out of a small barn shed outside his home. He uses his son Pablo to carry dolls filled with the heroin across the border where he delivers them to his distributor. It is a very strong and challenging role and I am very excited to be working on it. We start shooting at the end of May and the film will be submitted to a lot of huge film festivals.
I’m also working on a web series that is going to be released this summer called “Gur Talk.” We filmed the first three episodes and I play the role of Miguel, a gay Mexican nurse’s assistant who has dating issues. All the characters on the series are hilarious.
PL: What are your plans for the future?
MA: At the moment I’m focusing on film and television. TV is coming back strong; the most important production companies like HBO are now making programs with “film” quality. I love being on stage but the film process has my heart. For me, working on set offers more of a collaboration with other artists.
PL: What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
MA: I have always been involved in the arts, and as an actor consider myself an artist, I look forward to being continuously inspired by all the amazing roles that are out there. I want to connect with the audience and I want to master this profession, I know it takes time, but as actors we never stop learning.
PL: What is your advice to other aspiring artists?
MA: Never lose focus. Being an actor is tough, I don’t think there is an easy way for anyone really; you have to work and prepare a lot. This is a very demanding and competitive career so we need to be at our best at all times. Study, read, and take all the classes you can. You’ll most likely find yourself in challenging times, but if you never lose focus you’ll get there.
PL: What kind of training have you done?
MA: I am proud to say that I started training at a very young age; at 8 years old I was already learning the Stanislavsky method. At that point in life I really wanted to do everything so I took ballet, musical voice, even sculpting classes, but little by little acting took over so I chose to focus 100% on that. I took voice classes, speech, movement, script analysis, scene study, everything I could get my hands on, if it was related to acting then I wanted to know everything about it. I’ve been in training for the last 10 years, but honestly, as an actor, you are always in training.
PL: Why did you choose this profession?
MA: You know some people say that it is cliché to say that a profession chooses you instead of you choosing it, but for me, that is how it happened. I was an actor without even knowing it; I grew up in the theater, I grew up in the arts, it was always my life. As I got older my parents encouraged me to have a degree so I could have an “alternative” to make a living, and I did. I have an international business degree and I’m proud of it, I even worked in the field for several years, but after a few years of working behind a desk and sitting through executive meetings, I realized just wasn’t happy and I knew I had to go back to acting. Acting is what rewards me the most, it is where I feel at home.