HARD HITTER. While his filmography still has some growing to do, Miguel Gomez has shown that he’s an exceptionally adept character actor
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Colombian-born actor Miguel Gomez made his acting debut back in 2012. It was only in a single episode of the comedy series “Louie,” but that first appearance seemingly got the ball rolling. In the same year he landed a role in “The Domino Effect” followed by “Bless Me, Ultima,” a period war drama, in 2013. Still, it wasn’t until 2014 that Gomez really hit it off and attracted a mainstream fan base when he became a regular in Guillermo del Toro’s hit series “The Strain” as fan-favorite Augustin “Gus” Elizalde. Further solidifying his status as a force to be reckoned with is his hard-hitting performance opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in this year’s “Southpaw.” More importantly, these two roles highlighted his ability to bring out the more sympathetic aspects of otherwise one-dimensional antagonist or anti-hero characters. If that’s not the mark of a great actor, we don’t know what is.
“When life gets hard, you have to fight through it and roll with the punches”
DA MAN: Hi, Miguel. Great to have you onboard. Now, lately, you’ve attracted a lot of attention for your appearance in “Southpaw.” What’s your personal impression of the movie?
Miguel Gomez: First and foremost, at the heart of it, I think it’s a beautiful father-daughter story. It’s about someone that has to lose everything to realize what is truly important in life. And the boxing part is just a metaphor for what we go through in life: When you get knocked down, just get back up, when it gets hard, you have to fight through it and roll with the punches.
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DA: Can you tell us how you were initially cast for your role in “Southpaw”?
MG: The first thing Antoine Fuqua, the director, told me was, “I want to do this for real, I don’t want you to act like boxers, I want you to become a boxer.” And I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work and sacrifice.
“Just because you come from a rough environment doesn’t mean you can’t rise above it”
DA: Your character, Miguel “Magic” Escobar, is a rival to Jake Gyllenhaal’s character. What was it like starring opposite and also quite literally against a seasoned actor like him?
MG: The most important thing to everyone in this movie was the father-daughter relationship between Jake and Oona. [Oona Laurence plays Leila Hope, the daughter of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character.] And seeing how committed he was to that aspect of the story just made me want to train that much harder to get all the other stuff right.
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DA: How do you feel about being cast as the story’s villain? Was it interesting? Or perhaps a bit extra challenging?
MG: I never saw Magic as a villain. He’s simply a guy that comes from a rough background. You’ll see in the film, the circumstances his family is in. I think he’s just a young fighter that wants a chance to get his family out of poverty. And in the sport of boxing, closed mouths don’t get fed.
DA: By the way, what sort of training did they make you go through for this role?
MG: We went to training camp like we were pro fighters. We were in the gym seven to eight hours a day: sparring, learning the choreography, running seven miles a day and just living an all-around clean lifestyle.
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DA: All in all, what has been the most memorable moment from “Southpaw” for you?
MG: Being directed by Antoine Fuqua. Looking across the ring and seeing Billy Hope and waiting for the bell to ring. Also, everything we learned during training camp and that boxing is not just a physical sport, but that it’s mental and spiritual.
DA: And, of course, you’re also going to appear in “Pacific Standard Time.” Can you tell us what this one is about?
MG: It’s a very artistic film directed by Orson and Ben Cummings, two brothers who wrote a great script about these three best friends who somehow let ambition, anger and jealousy come between them.
Outfit and tie by Tommy Hilfiger, sunglasses by Oliver Peoples, pocket square by O’Harrow Clothiers
DA: But perhaps a lot of people got their introduction to you from “The Strain”. So, how did you end up on the cast for this series?
MG: Working with Guillermo del Toro is a dream come true. The first time I met with him to discuss the character I was blown away by his vision. I think there is a very important message behind the character of Gus: Don’t judge a book by the cover, and most importantly, just because you come from a rough environment doesn’t mean you can’t rise above it.
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DA: So far, the show has garnered nothing but praise. What do you think are the qualities that made “The Strain” such a big hit?
MG: Guillermo del Toro’s vision and his ability to create these beautiful worlds that you completely believe and get lost in. I think the show questions the character of humanity as a whole, and we need people from all walks of life if we have any chance of defeating this thing.
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DA: We’ve also heard a lot of positive comments about your portrayal of Gus in the show. Personally, what do you think about the character you play? And on a related note, what’s your secret for getting into character in front of the camera?
MG: I don’t think it’s about getting into character in front of the camera; it’s all the work you do prior to even getting on set. What I love about Gus is that he is trying to do the right thing, he makes a lot of mistakes, but his main motivation is love.
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DA: With the second season coming along, what can fans of the show expect this time around?
MG: You get to know the character a lot more this season, and certain story lines finally cross paths. We have some really great new characters that join the cast like “The Silver Angel.” That is what I’m most excited about.
DA: Now, your journey so far has been quite extraordinary. If you could sum it all up in one short sentence, or maybe a saying or motto, what would it be?
MG: Find a way.
Photography Mitchell Nguyen Mccormack
Styling David Kim
Styling Assistants Lauren Larocca and Cynthia Urena
Fashion Editor Alexa Rangroummith Green
Grooming Grace Phillips at Celestine Agency using Baxter of California and Laura Mercier
Photo Agency Artmix Creative
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