Miguel Talks Acting Debut in 'Live by Night' & Why He Won't Portray a Musician Anytime Soon

Miguel in Live by Night
Claire Folger/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Miguel as Esteban Suarez in Live by Night. 

From the stage to the big screen: Singer/songwriter Miguel is making his Hollywood debut this weekend with the film Live by Night, starring Ben Affleck and Zoe Saldana. 

"It's really crazy to see yourself in a movie for the first time. It was a little bit nerve-racking, I'll say," Miguel tells Billboard. "But it was such an amazing experience and it's easy to deliver and do it when you have amazing people that you're working with. I'm very thankful for this opportunity."

The acting bug hit him after shooting the music video for his song "Coffee." "That's the video that made me realize that I wanted to pursue acting and it made me feel like I was ready. That was a pivotal moment for me. With the right preparation, I felt like I could definitely do it."

So he auditioned for Live by Night, set in the roaring '20s during the Prohibition Era. Miguel plays Saldana's brother, Esteban Suárez, a Cuban nationalist and businessman living in the United States whose parents own plantations in Cuba producing the main component to make rum. 

"I have a lot of similarities with he character that I play in this film. He's an artist at heart and he's passionate about what he does, but he has to learn to put business first to survive. And at the same time, he puts his relationship with his family first and he's so close to his sister, just how I am with my brother. I felt very connected to Esteban."

After diving into research for the film, Miguel says his curiosity to learn more about Cuban culture and music grew even more. "I'd love to visit one day, and actually I was just talking about how much I would love to do a concert in Cuba. That would be pretty cool."

While fans will get more of Miguel on the big screen in the future, the "Simple Things" singer says he wouldn't be particularly interested in portraying a musician.

"I would actually prefer to stay away from playing musicians, because I'm a musician first and foremost. The credibility in playing another musician is very hard to overcome. I want to take baby steps and challenge myself and grow as an actor in a way that is respected by the film community."

Live by Night bows in theaters Friday (Jan. 13). Watch the trailer below: