In Plain Sight follows the story of a Federal Marshall with the Witness Protection program who must hide her high-risk, high-impact job from her family. To those that know her, Mary Shannon is a glorified meter maid, but her real job is much more dangerous. She must oversee federal witnesses who have been relocated through the Witness Protection program and make sure that they stay safe.
We had the honor of sitting down with one of the stars from the series, Cristian de la Fuente. Here’s what he had to say:
We’re very much looking forward to the show and to your role in it. I was wondering if you could start by telling us in your own words – we’ve certainly read the press releases and everything – what the show is about, what the plot setup is and about your character, Raphael, and your relation to Mary.
The show is about Mary’s life, a beautiful role played by Mary McCormack. She’s an agent from the Witness Protection Service. The show tells the story of how she deals with her personal life, where nobody knows what she does for a living, and her professional life, where she has to protect a witness every episode. Pretty much, that’s what the show is about.
I was watching the USA interviews on the USA Web site and Mary mentioned that she really feels a strong connection to her character and feels like she’s a lot like her. I’m curious about how you feel about your character, if you feel there are a lot of similarities or not as many.
I think every TV show or every movie it is very important, the casting process. That’s why executives, they don’t create a character, they sign actors that have some connection to the character. I think they did a great job here because Mary really feels like her character, Mary also. In my case, Raphael is pretty much like me. The only difference is I’m an actor; he’s a baseball player. The way we see life, the sense of humor that we have, how we approach relationships and how we approach life is very similar. Plus, Raphael and me, we’re both immigrants in this country and we both have an accent, so it’s really funny.
How different is this character from other characters that you’ve played? Is that a reason, also, that kind of drew you to it or is it along the lines of what you’ve played in the past?
Well, this character has something very special that is very different from other characters. I think here is where David Maples, who is the Writer and Executive Producer of the show, did a really great job and took a chance that I’m always going to be thankful for. Many times, in roles that I’ve played, the character is already written and then I have to play that character. Here, this character, started with an idea that David had in mind and then he started writing the character with my personality. I didn’t have to hide my accent, I didn’t have to change my sense of humor, I didn’t have to change anything. The character has a lot to do with myself.
I was very happy that I didn’t have to fight my accent or the fact that English is not my first language. He was able to introduce that in the show, and be part of my character. Sometimes I get misunderstood and Mary doesn’t understand me or I try to say something and it comes across the wrong way, which are things that happen to me in real life. I’m very happy that happens also to my character.
On In Plain Sight, Raphael and Mary sound like pretty different people and they have pretty different professions. I’m wondering how they met and how they get along so far in your experience.
The characters of Mary and Raphael are, as you say, completely opposite. Not only in their jobs, Witness Protection Service and baseball player, but the backgrounds, the ethnicities, the language, the way they approach relationships, everything is completely different. They have this on-and-off relationship where Raphael wants to get really serious. As a good Latino, he wants to have his girlfriend or his wife; he wants a name to the relationship. Mary tries to avoid it because she can’t commit; because of the nature of her job, she can’t really commit to a relationship. Even though we’re completely opposite and completely different, that would prove the rule that opposites attract.
In your USA online interview about Raphael you mentioned someone named Brandi. I wasn’t sure who that character was and how she’s going to play into the show.
Brandi is Mary’s sister. She’s a very troubled girl that doesn’t get along very well with her sister. She has a problem in her life that nobody knows about. Because I start getting close to her, Mary suspects that we’re having an affair, but at the end of the day we’re really trying to help each other and be there for each other as friends.
There’s a big difference between the Latin population in California and the Southwest where you filmed In Plain Sight, like New Mexico, versus the East Coast, where you have lots of Cubans and lots of South Americans. It seems a little more cosmopolitan, the Latin flavor, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. I was wondering where you’re more comfortable in the United States and if you’re more comfortable in Miami or Los Angeles.
You’re completely right. A lot of people think that Latinos, we’re all the same and we all look alike or we all have the same background. What you’re saying, it’s true. We are all completely different. At the end of the day, even though we’re really different and Cubans can be louder and Argentineans could brag more and probably Mexicans, they’re happier in the way they see life, they like to sing and the food, everybody has different qualities which represent them.
At the end of the day we have one thing in common, that we’re Latino. Any place that there’s a Latino, I’m always going to be comfortable. We have a thing that even though we’re all different, at the end of the day we all support each other. We’re all immigrants in a country that is not our country, and we have that thing in common. That bond is always very strong.
I know the show is set in New Mexico, in the Albuquerque area, but I was wondering, was it actually filmed there or was it filmed in L.A.?
No, no, the show is based in Albuquerque, in New Mexico, and we shoot it there. It takes place there. Everything is done in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
What is your most favorite dance to perform on Dancing With The Stars and what is your least favorite?
It’s really funny because I’m a Latino and I’m supposed to enjoy all the Latin dances and not like the ballroom, classic dances. But, last week, I did the foxtrot and for me, it was a lot of fun. It’s a dance that I have enjoyed the most and I think that was reflected, also, in the scores that I got from the judges. I was having a lot of fun.
I like them all, but probably the hardest one for me was the rumba because it was a very slow song. I think the problem was that the music that we had for the dance wasn’t appropriate, so I don’t think I didn’t like the dance; I didn’t like the song that we had to dance to.
Do you think we’ll ever see the tango on Dancing With The Stars? It’s such an intricate dance.
This week, we have the Viennese Waltz and we have the samba. I’m really working hard because if we survive this week, we survive the bloody Tuesday – that’s what we call it – or torture the Latino Tuesday, because you have casual Friday’s and torture the Latino Tuesday. People don’t know, but in dress rehearsals they always kick me out. I’ve been kicked out of the show three times already. Thank God not for real. If we survive this week, I’m pretty sure we would have the tango next week. I’m really looking forward to it because I was born in Santiago, Chile, but very close to Argentina. Tango, for me, is a beautiful dance about life and death. It’s a very passionate dance. I’m really looking forward to it.
We’ve seen you in quite a bit of stuff lately. You’re kind of all over the place. I was wondering if you have any favorite parts that you’ve played or favorite roles from the various things that you’ve been doing lately.
Well, I think acting is like life in a way and like relationships, you know? I’m never going to forget my first movie because it was kind of my first love. It’s like your first girlfriend, your first movie or your first big project. That was the movie that I did with Stallone, Driven.
Then, as life also, then your favorite one is your last one because it’s the one that you have more recently done and the one that you were able to put everything that you learned in life to play. My favorite will be Driven because it my first and then In Plain Sight now because I’m very happy that I was able to be part of this show.
I’m a big fan of Ugly Betty and I really enjoyed your role on that show. I’m curious how different it was working on a comedy versus more drama-driven shows you’ve done in the past.
I’ve tried to always put a little comedy in drama. The good thing about Ugly Betty is it was 100% comedy. I had a lot of fun. I think I have a way of looking at life that is with a sense of humor. Even the worst things in life, always when you look at them, after weeks or months, there is some humor in them. It was always good to do comedy. That’s why I really like, also, In Plain Sight because even though it’s a drama, it has a lot of humor in it.
Did being named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People affect your life in any way? What do your friends and family think about that?
I’m very lucky that there’s not a lot of Latinos in the States, and I was number 51. Number 50 has been sick many times, so I’m always the replacement. I’m always stunned by the People Magazine issue. I’m very lucky. I’m probably going to start buying lottery tickets because every year I get on People’s 50 Most Beautiful it’s a lucky one.
You have experience now in film, with the television series, with the reality TV and also even with producing. I was wondering, what is the best experience for you or which one of those aspects of the business do you prefer or like the best?
Everything that I’ve done is different and everything has its own magic. When you do TV, like In Plain Sight, you have one week to eight days to do 45-minutes of television. You really have to work hard to be able to do it and to come up with the best possible product. When you do a movie, you have three months to do an hour-and-a-half, so you have more time and the final product sometimes is better quality. Not always, but you have more time to get the scene done and to do a good job.
In reality, it’s just crazy, the adrenaline that you have being on live television because there is no time for mistakes. Also, when you get judged by the judges and you get critiqued or get your scores, it’s not a character that’s been attacked; it’s yourself. You’re more vulnerable.
Everything that I’ve done has its own magic. I’m very happy to have been able to do all of them. Even sitcoms, when you do it live in front of an audience. I’m always looking for challenges and I’m always looking to learn more and be able to do as many things as you can. By the end of the day, the more things that I can do is the more experience and more tools that I have for the future to do a better job.
Now that you’ve been a part of such a popular reality TV show and you’ve also got the new scripted drama coming up, in the past year we’ve seen a lot of reality TV. Do you think that’s kind of the future or is that really where the networks are going? Is that going to replace the scripted dramas or is there a place for both?
I hope that there’s always a place for both. I’m an actor and I’ve been an actor for 15 years, so that’s my passion. The fact that I got into Dancing With The Stars, it was not really because it’s a reality show, it’s more because it was a challenge that I could have in my life. I’m not a dancer and I wanted to prove to myself how good I could be at something I was really bad at. I’m still working on that.
People like to see reality in a way, so I think why there’s the success of Dancing With The Stars and reality shows. I hope that if reality TV keeps growing, it’s nice reality TV; it’s not reality where we have to see people suffering, crying, making fun of people or putting people down. I think we have enough of that in the world and we shouldn’t have mean TV. I think as long as it’s feel-good TV, I’m happy that it happens.
Interview By: Emma Loggins