Via interview footage from Universal Pictures, check out what the bachata superstar had to say about his nerve-racking but ultimately rewarding acting debut.
On his character, Armando (or Mando for short)
My character is this guy that has this great friendship with Dom (Vin Diesel) in the movie. It’s ‘I got your back. Anything you need. I’m here for you,’ and vice versa. I can relate to that; that’s what I would do for friends on a personal level. It’s a character that has a lot of wealth, a lot of power, and he runs the Dominican Republic. So I’m just extending a hand to a friend; it’s a beautiful thing.
On the similarities between Mando and Romeo
They created this character that wasn’t too far in personality from how I act when I’m onstage, my persona. I don’t consider myself Romeo [in my everyday life]; I’m Anthony, but when I get onstage, my alter ego is this sort of arrogant, powerful man. And this character is pretty much that.
On coping with on-set jitters
I must confess I was a bit nervous. This is not my lane. I’m always onstage, and everyone there already loves me, so I go with this certain confidence. Here, it’s a different world so when I began, Jordana [Brewster] made me feel so comfortable. I told her I was a bit nervous and she said, ‘Look, sometimes I mess up on my lines; it’s just part of the game.’
It was very encouraging to hear people coming up to me and say, ‘You’re doing a great job.’ I was like, ‘Good, because I don’t want to mess this up. I really want to do this right.’
On the success of the franchise
I believe that the reason the [Fast and Furious] movies are so successful is because there’s a combination of a lot of great things. You have great producers, you have great actors, but you also have action, drama, and when you have that mix of greatness the success is obviously going to be an easy task. I feel like I’ve seen the evolution as a fan so to be part of it as this point is just fascinating to me. I’m in a dream!
On his real-life friendship with Vin Diesel
Vin is at a status where he can do whatever he wants and for him to take it back to the community -- that’s beautiful [Diesel’s One Race Global Film Foundation, launched in 2006, fosters the growth of filmmakers in under-served communities in the Dominican Republic]. When we spoke the first time, I think it was at an awards show, I said, ‘What you’re doing is incredible.’ This is a great sign that things happen when they’re meant to happen.