Andrés Talero plays the role of Captain Ramon, Zorro’s foe in Constellation’s world premiere adventure. We got a chance to ask him about playing dark characters and the surprising similarities between heroes and villains.
1. Tell us about your experience of Captain Ramon – on the surface he is described as the villain, but there is obviously much more going on beneath the steely exterior.
Descriptions like that can be helpful to get a sense of the world of the play and how characters interact with one another, but to get to the nitty gritty of character, I used the crumbs [writers] Eleanor and Janet left in the script. Some of the crumbs I found tastiest were: I am an orphan, I am a Captain
(highest rank in this world before Governor), I have a clear idea of right and wrong and I usually feel the need to explain why I am upholding the law in the way that I do. If I forget everything I know about the story of Zorro and removed names from each character, I would have a hard time voting for Zorro over Ramon as the hero. The only real difference is how far Zorro and Ramon go to get what they want.
2. You have a wealth of experience in stage combat, and also served in the military. Tell us how these experiences inform your character development and fight style.
In the military I learned hand to hand and some close range knife fighting, which essentially comes down to finding the quickest and easiest way to get rid of a threat. Usually ends up on the floor and is over in about a second or two. Stage fighting is much different in that people have to actually see who is doing what and what that impact has on the other person. One of the many things [Fight Director] Casey Kaleba is really good at is breaking down a fight into several story beats.
For this production, we talked about the differences in how Ramon and Zorro fought. For those RPG nerds out there, Ramon is more of the natural fighter class, and Zorro is the multi-class (fighter/aristocrat). Ramon was brought up in the streets for part of his life and knows how to survive and adapt, whereas Zorro comes from structured academy training that also includes literature.
3. Are you/Were you a fan of the Zorro films, or superhero stories in general? Has playing Ramon given you a different view of the super-hero / villain relationship? Have you played the other side?
I saw the silent movie with Douglas Fairbanks about a month before we started rehearsing. I loved the playfulness of it. The archetypal villain and hero gave me enough space to turn off the analytical part of my brain and just enjoy the athleticism of it. I am also a huge fan of Batman, so being in anything that was an inspiration for that character really sparked the geek centers in my brain.
I actually got a chance to play a real-life superhero (Jack) in REALS, written by local playwright Gwydion Suilebhan. Like Ramon, Jack thinks he is doing the right thing and is driven by it. They also both have this intense need to be loved and accepted. Not to spoil anything, but there is a scene in Zorro where I (Ramon) am talking to Lolita and I say “I have the power here!” This is something that Jack also says in REALS. Different plays, different people, but you
know what? They are saying it from the exact same need – The need to be accounted for. This is what I love about the relationship between heroes and villains. They are both damaged in some way, and struggle to correct something in their world and themselves. At least the interesting ones do. I was never partial to Captain America. I like my heroes and villains to be half a step removed; I like not knowing who I should be rooting for.
4 . Where can we see you next?
You can find me cleaning up baby vomit and changing diapers. I am on to the next adventure of fatherhood. Wish me luck!
Good luck Andrés!