The comedian talks about dropping his routine to take on a serious role and responds to allegations levied against Gomez in Hank’s Blog.
Q: You began your career as a comedian. Do you feel like now that you’ve been on Breaking Bad, people consider you more an actor?
A: It’s funny, people are taking me more serious. If you don’t have anything on your resume but comedy, you get a lot of notes before you go into auditions. And when you read for people, they’ll say, “Well, you should work on this and that,” and you take the notes and it’s fine. But once you’ve gotten on an Emmy-winning show, and then you do a few movies, everything changes.
Q: You recently starred in Love Ranch with Bryan Cranston. Did you two get to hang out on set?
A: Bryan and I shot different days, so I didn’t actually get to see him! I worked with Joe Pesci, though — and that was totally cool. Just to hear his voice makes you smile, man. But when we started shooting Season 2, that’s when Bryan and I realized we’d both done the same movie. We talked about it a little bit, then we went back into Breaking Bad mode. Back to being enemies! Not really though, he’s like the nicest guy.
Q: Last season you said that working on Breaking Bad made you realize you didn’t want to be a cop. Has anything changed for you this season?
A: I have to give cops a lot of credit. I think I’m starting to feel and think more like a cop. I’m really trying to step up my game — to change my whole aspect, take the comedian out and be more serious about approaching this role.
Q: Breaking Bad does have comedic elements. Do you find it doesn’t fit with your comedy?
A: I’m a really over-the-top kind of comic. And even the other acting I did before, all my roles were really comical — I played the gardener or the mechanic or the Cholo. But this is really dark humor, and it’s gotta play real and be believable to be funny. The other thing is that I’m so used to instant gratification being a comic — either they laugh or they say boo, but at least I get a reaction. In film you don’t get a reaction. People always say, “You’re used to 3,000 people in an audience and you don’t even sweat, but you’re freaking out in front of a camera.” I say, “I know, I can’t explain it.” But Dean Norris, he’s my hero. He’s there with you, he makes you feel comfortable and relaxed, and that’s so important.
Q: You and Dean became friends when he moved to Albuquerque. Do you stay in touch now that he’s back in L.A.?
A: Yeah, but I miss him a lot — and I know he misses his golfing buddy. He was really improving his game. But he says he’s been practicing, he’s ready to come back and kick my butt. My game’s improved a lot too, so Dean’s in trouble. It’s not going to be easy-pickings any more.
Q: Have you been following Hank’s Blog? Hank takes quite a few jabs at Gomez on it…
A: I do read Hank’s Blog — I’m just not able to respond to it! He’s trying to offer up one of my cajones over here, and that ain’t gonna fly, man. I use mine. I know for a fact he ain’t using his [Laughs]. He don’t have ‘em, his wife does!
Q: Gomez shows a more serious side of himself this season when he and Hank are interrogating Jesse. What were you thinking about during that scene?
A: That’s been my favorite scene so far, because it was the first time I felt that I could really play and show Gomez for who he is — the hard-nosed cop who really wants to find this meth. I have a family member that’s dealing with this, and when someone is hooked on meth it destroys everybody. You feel bad for the person that’s addicted because they’ve got the biggest battle, but everybody suffers. I wanted to play Gomez in that element.
Q: What would you like to see happen in Season 3?
A: You know, at the end of this season, everyone cheered at the end of my last shot, then this one crew member said, “You’re still the only Mexican on this show that’s still alive, brotha!” And I said, “That’s right, I’m gonna keep it that way!”