Fernando Carsa is happy to embody a new and fresh representation of gays in Holywood movies. Shortly after At Midnight hit Paramount+ (sign-up for Paramount+ here) last week, ComingSoon spoke with actor Fernando Carsa, who portrays a gay bartender called Tachi in the Jonah Feingold-directed rom-com. The Mexican actor spoke about preparing for the role, the emotion of working side-by-side with Diego Boneta, and more.
“In the film, romance seems unlikely for Sophie (Monica Barbaro), an actress reeling from the discovery that her boyfriend and co-star (Anders Holm) is cheating on her, but when she unexpectedly meets ambitious and charming hotel manager Alejandro (Boneta), she is forced to re-think both Hollywood politics and affairs of the heart,” reads the synopsis.
At Midnight is already out on Paramount+, your first long-feature project. How did you land the role of Tachi?
Fernando Carsa: It was a very common process of sending a self-tape, then hearing back that the director wanted to meet with me to have a meeting and have me read some other scenes and stuff, so very, I guess, usual of a process. If I’m being completely honest with you, when I first got the audition, Tachi feels so foreign to me, so different for me, but it’s because I think that I had never tapped into that side of myself. Tachi is a very sensual character, very confident, very unapologetic. I was still, at that time when I auditioned for the role, tapping into that myself. It was really cool to actually book the part because I think it helped me get out of my comfort zone that I had been for so long that I needed to get out of in order to live my most authentic life.
Are you a shy person?
I’m not necessarily a shy person, but I’m not as extroverted or outgoing as that specific character, you know? It just helped me recognize and helped me acknowledge the part of me that I just had never tapped into with my sexuality and my sensuality and just my confidence overall.
Did you watch anything in particular to prepare for Tachi?
I’m a person that likes to listen to music to get ready for my character. There was a lot of pop music in Spanish and reggaeton as well. I just feel like that would help me get in the more sensual zone that the character had to be in. Just a lot of music that was very about self-love and self-confidence, so a lot of Lizzo too, helped me to get in the zone. Every time I would step on set, I would put on my headphones and just listen to these tracks that just kind of like helped me lift up my chest a little more and kind of being a little unafraid of being a little cocky, I guess.
And did you listen to Britney Spears much? I know that you’re a huge fan of hers.
Yes. Not for this specific character necessarily. I think I focus on other artists just because I knew that the character himself. I don’t think Tachi would be that much of a Britney Spears fan. I just tried to connect to what the character would do more. However, in my day-to-day life, yes, I do listen to Britney Spears every day.
Tachi is a bartender. What is it about bartenders that make people fall in love with them as soon as they are there at the bar?
It’s so interesting because I’m so not a drinker. I’ve never had an interaction with a bartender the way my character has had an interaction with other characters in the movie. I do think that there’s a connection that happens. It just feels so intimate. The setting is usually very intimate. It’s one-on-one, you know what I mean? I feel like when you’ve had a few drinks also that just opens up a few more doors and windows for conversation. I have a lot of friends who do bartending and they do love making connections with people. They love it so much, they just love to talk to people and about their day and whatnot, and that’s how a good intimate connection happens. I do think that anyone that works in any sort of customer service job per se, must have something to them that they enjoy making someone feel better, you know? I feel like that’s a lot of bartenders. I do believe they’re a blessing to this world.
That’s true. Speaking of intimate connections, Tachi is also Alejandro’s best friend and sees the love story between Alejandro and Sophie from the first row. How was it to work with Monica Barbara and Diego Boneta?
It was a dream come true. Monica has become such an iconic powerhouse in Hollywood at the time, so it was really exciting to know that she had just finished Top Gun: Maverick and that I was gonna have the chance to work with her. We didn’t have any scenes together, but one, and we never interacted in our scenes, but I was on set with her a few times. We also got to hang out outside and she’s the sweetest. She’s so professional and she’s so amazing. With Diego, it was also very special because I’ve been a fan of his since I was four years old. I’ve literally seen his career unfold right before my eyes. When I was little and I was an aspiring actor and singer as well, he’s done everything I’ve always dreamed of doing. He’s someone that I’ve always looked up to. I will say acting with him was a little intimidating just because of how much respect and admiration I have for him. I was often very starstruck on set. Like we say in the acting world, I had to fake it till I made it and pretend that I was fine, but in reality I was freaking out a lot. What was so cool about it is that Diego is also a producer in the film, and he truly is one of the sweetest, most respectful people that I’ve worked with. He and his sister who are part of the production company that is producing the film, they were incredible to me and they made me feel part of their family. It was just a beautiful experience. Just to know that one of your heroes is actually this beautiful person also behind the camera, it was just really beautiful to see. I don’t know, this has been a highlight of my life just to work with someone that I’ve always admired so much.
Tachi also falls in love with someone in the story. What can you tell us about his relationship with Chris and your working relationship with Casey Thomas Brown?
That scene where we first start flirting with each other, that’s the thing that made me the most nervous because I’m so not like that. I’m never the first person to start the flirting conversations. That’s never me. I get really shy when people try to flirt with me. I love that that was written to the story, just because as a plus size man who also happens to be gay, I feel like we don’t get enough representation of people that look like me, who, and I’m talking about media, have success stories about finding love and being attractive. We’re always depicted as lonely people who nobody wants to date. Gay representation sometimes in media is very cookie-cutter. You have to look this way. It was really special to have a narrative of two people from two different countries with two very different body sizes, actually being able to have this connection. I don’t think we get to see that in the media a lot. It’s always about people with a lot of muscles or really small people. I was excited about that. Then, working with Casey, he is hilarious. Sometimes on set, it was hard not to break because what a lot of people don’t know is a lot of the scenes were improv and Casey is incredible at improv. Sometimes it was hard to keep up. He’s also been in the industry for longer. I’ve only been in the industry for two years, so there was a lot of pressure to try to keep up with him, personally. He’s the sweetest and he’s such a giver when it comes to acting that it makes the acting and reacting aspect of our job very easy. It was also a pleasure to work with him.
At Midnight also does a sort of parody of superhero movies. I would like to ask you, where do you stand on the superhero genre?
I believe that our industry has the beautiful honor of bringing joy to people and making people happy. For some people that’s superhero movies, you know? I think that as entertainers, of course, we wanna create art, and, of course, we wanna create something of value. I’m not saying that superhero movies aren’t that because they definitely are in their own way. I feel like there’s a lot of criticism just because of the approach. At the end of the day, as an entertainer myself, I believe that the whole purpose of what we do is to bring joy, happiness to people. Most movies allow for that and allow us to have that opportunity. I think they’re awesome because they’re comforting for a lot of people. I’m personally not a superhero person, but it’s really lovely to see how the Marvel Universe or the DC Universe brings so much joy to so many of my friends who are part of that group of people who enjoy watching them. I think superhero movies are as important as any Oscar-winning film.
When I ask you before whether you watched anything in particular to prepare for Tachi, I was actually hoping to hear that you watched yourself in Acapulco since Memo happens to work at a hotel in Mexico and his best friend is over there too. A few days ago Apple TV+ renewed the show for the third season. Were you happy about that news?
I’m so excited. I’m really happy. We finished the first season and we were incredibly proud and happy. Then when we did the second one, we were even prouder and happier just because of what our writers and Apple did with the show and where it took it. I think it’s just getting involved in more important conversations. It is becoming a show that heals people and helps people escape the troubles of real life. The second season ended with a lot of question marks and things that need to be resolved. Of course, we wanna know what happens next, but mostly I think the entire cast and the entire production team, we’re just excited to keep creating a show that brings this comfort and this love and healing to audiences. I feel like it’s something that we need so much right now, and I think it’s beautiful that we’re doing it while combining two different cultures and languages as well. I’m really excited. I genuinely don’t know what’s gonna happen. I haven’t heard anything. I have my first custom fitting tomorrow and that’s the only thing I know. I’m really excited and I know that our writers are creating something very special.
Is there anything at all you hope to see for a Memo in Season 3?
I would like to see Memo kind of like mess up a little more. I don’t know, I feel like it would be interesting to now see the other side of the coin now maybe if Maximo and Memo kind of switch roles a little bit. Memo has to go through some issues, Maximo was the one cheering him up. I feel like that would be an interesting thing to see. I feel like as an actor who in that specific show is constantly and mostly doing comedy, it would be a nice challenge just to try to find that more vulnerable side of my character.