The following interview for Backstage’s on-camera series The Slate was compiled in part by Backstage readers just like you! Follow us on Twitter (@Backstage) and Instagram (@backstagecast) to stay in the loop on upcoming interviews and to submit your questions.
He commands the screen on Netflix’s “Luis Miguel: The Series” as the titular iconic Latin singer, but Diego Boneta did not originally plan on acting. While Boneta did do a lot of television work—first appearing on the reality show “Código F.A.M.A.,” then children’s telenovela “Misión S.O.S.” before the teen classic “Rebelde”—his first artistic passion was singing. Yet the on-screen projects that started as a way of “paying his dues” in the world of entertainment and performance, turned out to be what made him fall in love with the craft of acting.
After leaving Mexico for Los Angeles and landing a few guest spots on shows like “Pretty Little Liars” and “90210,” he booked the lead role in “Rock of Ages,” where he starred alongside Tom Cruise. Now, just over a decade into his acting career stateside, Boneta finds himself back in Mexico City for the hit Netflix series centered on the award-winning singer Luis Miguel, on which he is also a producer.
Boneta sat with Backstage to share what he wishes he knew when he started acting, how he approaches his character development, and what it means to stay focused and humble in this business.
How Physicality Helps To Build Boneta’s Characters
Boneta describes the process of becoming Luis Miguel for the TV biopic as “very intense.” In addition to researching Miguel online, he read books, watched and studied the singer’s mannerisms during concerts and interviews, and worked closely with his acting coach to mine details—like the way Miguel holds himself and walks, and the different tics and vocal inflections he has at different stages of his life—for the most accurate depiction. He also went as far as getting a semi-permanent gap in his teeth.
The physical transformation for Season 2, which follows the singer’s career through the ’90s and early aughts, is even more pronounced. Prosthetics came heavily into play this season with the actor spending multiple hours in the makeup chair with Oscar winner Bill Corso to achieve the singer’s particular facial structure later in life.
But of course, the physical is only part of the character development. To layer the emotional with the physical work, he also spent time with the singer to better understand his mindstate during particular events covered over the show’s run, including the icon’s come-up, his relationship with his father, the disappearance of his mother, the discovery of his estranged daughter, plus the darker, more personal betrayals and obstacles covered on Season 2. It all coalesced to a performance that’s garnered a 90% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Boneta’s Approach To Rehearsal
While he acknowledges that every scene requires something different, Boneta generally likes to spend a lot of time preparing. “I’d rather those [preparation] months be harder than the actual shoot, so that when I have to shoot one of those scenes, I’ve already been working on it for so long that I know not only that draft, but the five different drafts of that scene [leading up] to what we’re actually going to be shooting,” he says. While he likes to have the script memorized, what is even more important than the dialogue itself for the actor is the intention behind the scene. Once that character charting work is done, the focus can then be on playing and experimenting in the moment, creating something truly authentic and enjoyable. On this note, Boneta highlights the freedom he experienced on the set of “Luis Miguel: The Series,” thanks to all the prep work he and his cast mates did ahead of time, to improvise and experiment within the scene.
On Remaining Humble + Determined
Boneta recalls just starting out in the business, moving to Los Angeles from Mexico, with the idea that he was talented and prepared enough to jump right into big features. After booking every project he went out for in Mexico, he made it to the final round of auditions in L.A. for “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” and didn’t land the gig. It was a humbling moment for the actor.
A few years of pounding the pavement and going to auditions nonstop, he says taught him the value of “really working hard, not giving up, persevering, and not being too picky about things.”
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