His name may not be familiar but his credits are sure to ring some bells. In film, he’s been seen in titles such as 13 Going on 30 and Seabiscuit. On TV, he’s done everything from soaps to Touched By An Angel to Judging Amy. He’s also voiced characters for Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and The Ultimate Spiderman video game by Activision.
He keeps himself incredibly busy all while blurring the line between work and fun. It was a definite treat when he agreed to take time away from the secret set he’s been working on to talk about a couple of new adventures he was excited to share.
Check out his interview below.
Hi! How are you?
“Good! I’m good. Having a pretty good day so far.”
Good! Sounds like you’re busy.
“Yeah, I’m working a bit later on today and then all this next week which is really awesome. So yeah, I’m pretty excited about that.”
Yeah! Of course, it sounds like I can’t ask you anything about it…
“(laughs) That’s true and it really sucks but maybe I can get away with saying a few things without getting in trouble.”
That would be great! Like what?
“Well, I can’t say what show it’s for but I get to wear a ponytail and a sweet ’80’s musician outfit. It’s just a crazy character. So funny.”
Awesome! ’80’s musician, huh? So does that mean you’ve got out your Cassio?
“(laughs) No, actually, I’m playing a saxophone player. And no, I don’t play the saxophone so hopefully it won’t look like I’m just miming it. (laughs) It’s good. It’s really funny. I’m excited about it.”
Are you allowed to say when we might see or at least find out anything about this?
“That’s where I’m not sure I can [say anything]. From what I understand, I can say that I’m guest starring on a comedy show that’s already on the air but I don’t know how much permission I have to talk about it. But in general I can say that it’s a very funny role and that I’m a total character and that I don’t look anything like myself, which is really amazing.”
Sounds like fun!
“Yes. Oh my gosh. I’m actually really into doing comedy so getting to do comedy is the most fun.”
So what made you want to be an actor?
“I’ve been acting since I was a little boy. And I think I was about five when I did my first soap opera. I was just a little toddler. It came from my older brother. He started out when he was nine or ten. He got into singing and dancing, acting on Broadway. And we were living in Jersey and he’d commute to work so I think I just grew up being around my older brother and it was that ‘monkey see, monkey do’ type of mentality. Like, ‘Oh! I want to do what he’s doing!’ And then, I’m twenty-seven now so as you grow up, you know, getting a chance to work as an actor at that age, it gave me…I don’t know…a real love for it. It’s kinda like, once you’re in it, you never really let it go. And, I guess, inspiration as an actor is still the same. My brother is an actor and I look up to him and we do a show together and we’re constantly involved in all the Hollywood stuff together and that’s probably my biggest motivation as an actor right now. My brother, my family, and I mean, then there are all the opportunities I get to kinda just travel the world and meet people. It just really worked for me growing up because I’ve always been a social butterfly and so it’s a really, really good career choice for me. I think. (chuckles)”
I take it you and your brother get along really well?
“Yeah. Him and I are like the best of friends. I see him every day, if not every other day and we hang out on the weekend and there are times that we audition for the same thing. He’ll call me and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got this audition. We’d better get to work!’ We’re just like partners in crime. It’s the best.”
Have you actually been in anything together?
“We did a scene together, oh gosh, I want to say about seven years ago now? Maybe closer to eight years ago. It was a movie called Remember the Daze and I was playing a character who was really funny and he was kind of my shitty older brother. It’s kind of this really funny high school movie with this large cast of like twenty-four young guys and I was lucky enough to get cast in the film and they cast someone else to play my older brother. And the weirdest thing happened. It was three days before we were supposed to shoot and the director tells me, ‘Hey, the guy we cast literally isn’t responding. I don’t know if we made a major mistake or what but he isn’t responding to the call to set things up to send him to North Carolina.’ So I told the director, ‘Hey, I have an older brother, an ACTUAL older brother and he’s REALLY funny if you want to bring him in for this.’ So sure as shit, we totally called him and we got to work together. It was amazing. I have been extremely lucky. And we haven’t really done much of anything else together, I mean, we’ve come close to doing a couple shows together, but recently we just made our own show. It’s something we’ve been working on for, gosh, four years now maybe? And we did a show about three guys working in a video game store and all the weird, crazy nerd stuff that happens. And my brother had a really fun cameo in the pilot and it’s awesome.”
That is awesome! Where can that be seen?
“Um, that’s a really good question. It’s called Gameropolis and it’s currently being shopped around, maybe see if we can get some network backing for it and if that doesn’t happen, we’ll probably put it up online. Put it on Kickstarter or a youtube channel and just make it ourselves.”
Let me know if that happens and I’ll see what I can do to help promote it!
“Absolutely. It’s kind of a really, really, really weird comedy. It’s about people who are caught up in comic books and watch way too many movies. Actually, that’s a pretty good description of the better part of my life. And it’s really pretty funny because my brother and I are just crazy and funny. If my manager gets back on the line, you’ll have to ask him about it. He’s seen it.”
[Manager – ‘It’s hilarious.’]
I can’t wait. Sounds awesome.
I have to ask, what movie has been the most memorable?
“That’s a good question. I’ve been in two shows recently that were hard to forget. One is Sundown, which I’m sure we’ll talk about again in a little bit. It’s a movie I did down in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I was so lucky. I got to work with my friend, Devon Werkheiser. He did a Nickelodeon show for a long time that I think was called Ted Declassified or something like that and he and I did a small movie together when we were seventeen and a few years later now we got cast together for this movie Sundown. We’re playing best friends and it was really one of the most wild and fun and crazy experiences of my life just shooting the movie. It was in Mexico with an entirely Spanish speaking crew. Oh, we shot like crazy. It got weird. It got really weird. It was just crazy and I don’t think I could ever forget those experiences on set. Spending five days in a row making crazy jokes and I in particular play a crazy young character who is just like a big ball of fun energy and it was really fun. And then the crazy thing was that on the weekends we were in Puerto Vallarta, which is like a tourist paradise on a beach, and we spent a lot of time on boats and jet skis and just sitting on the beach. It was an experience that I will truly always remember and I feel like the luckiest man alive. And not only did I get to shoot a film in a tourist destination, I also got to partake in all that tourism stuff. So it was a vacation and work all at once as well.”
Do you speak Spanish, then, or at least understand some?
“Un poquito. I think I can understand it but I don’t really speak it. Now I’m Cuban. My father is Cuban and he speaks Spanish but he never taught me. He was afraid I was going to grow up with an accent. So no, I can understand things better than I can speak it. A lot of times I can understand a conversation in Spanish but not be able to respond, you know? I got by fine in Mexico, so yeah, my Spanglish is spot on. All I needed was to ask for food and ice. That was all that mattered in Mexico. It was hot and I always needed something to cool me down. And then there was ‘Donde está el baño?’ – ‘Where is the bathroom?’ –
Although then you can’t understand what they tell you…
“Exactly. Yeah, yeah, they’re all like ‘derecha’ or something and I’m like, ‘Is that left or right?’ So I’m looking around and going, ‘Yeah, I don’t know.’ I’m surprised that I survived Mexico in that regard.”
Between TV and movies, do you have a preference between the two?
“This is a good question. I think years ago I used to like doing film because that’s where you have more freedom. Not everything is quite as cohesive, but it feels really organic. You’re only together for a few months, maybe less, and in that time everyone is trying to figure out exactly what they’re creating and it’s always a mixed bag of results. With a TV show, it’s a lot more structured, especially if it’s at least in its second season, the crew’s been there a lot longer and everyone’s got a routine which makes it one of the most easy and comfortable experiences. One of the most comforting feelings about going to set yesterday was that everyone knows what’s going on, ya know? There’s like a clear-cut vision for the entire project. And that just makes everything run really, really smoothly. And it really dissipates a lot of the stress for everyone, even the actors. So I love that about television. That everything really is like a well-oiled machine but the beautiful thing about film is that it’s just more freedom. You can take bigger stories on and you can take bigger risks. And that’s really amazing, too. So if I had to pick between the two, I don’t think I would. I think what I would pick more than anything is voice acting. I like making cartoons more than anything else in the world. It makes for an incredible experience. It’s insane.”
What is it that you like so much about voice acting?
“Voice acting’s kind of…to be a cartoon is to be totally different. You can be as whacky and crazy as possible and it’s gonna work, you know? And most of it’s really high energy and it’s creating these weird voices that nobody would speak with in a film or television show. And that kind of freedom is amazing. I’ve also ended up working with some REALLY talented voice actors and actresses so it’s been a really good choice for me. Just imagine sticking six people in a booth who are all incredibly crazy in their own right and then to have everyone come together for a cartoon show, it’s really fun. And we’re not talking cartoon shows that are all serious and everything. They’re comedic and I love comedy so it really gives me the freedom I can’t get anywhere else. It’s nuts.”
Which cartoons have you voiced for?
“I did a show for like six years called Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. It was by the creator of Power Puff Girls and it did really really well for that amount of time. I got to work with Tom Kinney who did Spongebob, Phil Omar, all of these people who are really really talented voice actors and actresses and they’re all comedians. All of these people have spent a long time in the industry and so when I was from the ages of fifteen to twenty doing this show, I don’t think I’ve ever had a better experience as an actor than being stuck in a little sound booth with some of the funniest people on the planet. And as you grow up, you learn that there are these boundaries that the other actors were trying to find and trying not to cross where they were trying to figure out just how adult they could be around you and so THAT, as a social experiment in the recording booth, was just one of the coolest things that I’ve ever gone through. And again, I feel so lucky that I ever even got that opportunity.”
Where was that line and how many of them [the adult voice actors] crossed it?
“I think by the time I hit seventeen there was an air of like ‘You’re an adult, we can curse around you.’ And it’s not like they were bad people or anything. That’s not it at all. It’s just when you’re making cartoons all day and you’re stuck in a little room for all that time every week, you want to let go, say certain things around children. And it worked out, it really worked out, you know? I think it gave me a good perspective on what’s appropriate inappropriate comedy and what’s NOT appropriate in inappropriate comedy. And that really extends to all of us, I think. And if I had to pick one person who crossed the line, maybe more than anyone else…no, no wait, I can’t call it out. It’s just that all of those people are dear friends and I really loved that entire experience. If not for adults being a ‘little’ inappropriate around me, I probably wouldn’t be half as funny as I am today.”
Who’s been the most interesting person for you to work with?
“I’ve been lucky. I love Adrien Brody. I did a film with him in Detroit. Him and my buddy, Matt Bush, and Michael Chiklis, and Colin Hanks. It was just amazing to have all those guys on one set. I was young and hadn’t been working with people of that stature yet. It was really incredible. But the coolest thing about Brody and him and I is that we’re also kind of friends and like to hang out and he cast me in a commercial of his years later which was really amazing and that’s like the coolest thing a friend can do for someone. And, yeah, that was just a really interesting learning experience. Brody’s an Academy Award winner and to be in this crazy role with him and, when I was younger, learning how to be an actor, how to create your character, having him as an influence was just incredible. His focus is nuts. Even if you’re doing comedy, he’s really got everything all thought out and that’s really amazing. I think, besides that, I’d have to say Devon Werkheiser. I mean, yeah, he’s a younger actor, he’s my age, but we did that movie in Mexico, Sundown, and I will never forget the kind of back and forth chemistry that him and I had in doing improv and comedy together. Of all the interesting people that I’ve met in the world, the best are the ones that you create really close connections with and he’s a really good friend of mine. I’ve known him for about ten years and that connection can be really hard to find, especially among comedians so I think that makes this film really special and beautiful all at one time. And I think that’s the most interesting thing that I’ve ever met or seen in another actor. There’s just that kind of vibe with us. And Devon Werkheiser is ‘the man.’ I just can’t say that enough. (chuckles) If I could fit him in my pocket and carry him around with me, that’s exactly what I would do. If he’s creeped out, it’s ok, he’ll get used to it. Don’t worry about it.”
I’m thinking you’d probably have to shrink him first, get some of that Honey I Shrunk the…whatever vibe going on there…
“Maybe. Maybe he’s got an open stick of gum in there, but I think eventually he’d be ok with it, you know? Could take him out for inspiration whenever I needed it. So I think then I’d be good to go.”
Who were you the most excited to meet when you found out you were going to be working with them?
“I did a movie in South Africa that I can’t really talk much about so I’m gonna talk around it as much as I can. I got to work with another really, really good friend of mine, Connor Paolo, who did a couple of big CW shows and then another friend of mine, William Moseley, who did Chronicles of Narnia and now I think he’s on a big show on E! about the royal family that’s called The Royals. I had kind of loosely met the two before through another friend of mine but I think I was the most excited to work with them, getting to work with someone that you already know from somewhere and you say, ‘Oh, it would be great to get to work with you sometime’ and then you find out that you ARE working with them. So when you have to fly halfway around the world, to South Africa, to shoot the movie, traveling to a far off place where you won’t have access to cell phones or something like that but you know that you’re gonna see friends there and get an opportunity to work with them…I mean, that’s gotta be the best. That was kinda the coolest thing ever. I mean, you may idolize or look up to other actors, like I did with Michael Chiklis when I did the movie in Detroit. He was in his seventh season of The Shield and I was really interested in meeting him and I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, I’m gonna stand up and say something I’ll regret’ but then there’s the other side where you get to work with a friend and, I don’t know, it’s really interesting to think about. It’s a good question.”
South Africa, Mexico…where else have you filmed and what was the best and what was the worst of it?
“Ok, so the best is Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I don’t think I can say Puerto Vallarta, Mexico enough. It was so fun and so funny and I got to play a madman so I kinda just lost myself for like three months out there and WAS just a madman. I think all of us need that sometime. I was in paradise, in a beach town, acting like a crazy person and all the people around me seemed to be ok with it and loved it so that was really just a big score for me in life. And then, as for the worst place, I mean, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings but Detroit, Michigan is a terrible place to live for four months. I’m from California. We have beaches. We have hot weather. Detroit, it was winter, it was minus twenty, it was winter, it was miserable outside. People were always…just, there’s nothing you can do. It’s just so cold outside that you just have to accept the fact that everyone’s unhappy about how cold it is. And the city was just not the place to be at the time, with the down economy…so, if you want the honest truth, it was Detroit, Michigan. I was trying to get a taxi to the airport and I had on long johns with a t-shirt and a sweater over that and I was FREEZING. I remember a breeze coming up my left leg and I was shivering down to my bones. I was like, ‘I’m gonna gooo and I’m never ever coming back!’ so if they ever do a sequel, I’ll be like (squeaky voice) ‘I can’t do that. Can’t go back there.’ (laughs) But no, seriously, even if it’s the worst place you’ll ever shoot, you’re still shooting a movie and that’s incredible. It’s just too bad that Detroit is cold. There should really be a movie made about how I feel about Detroit and that movie would be called ‘It’s so Cold in the D’. That sums up how I feel about Detroit perfectly.”
Talk to me about Sundown.
“Sundown is a film starring me and my friend Devon Werkheiser, Sara Paxton, Camilla Belle, as well as Jordi Mollá – and he’s an actor I should have mentioned earlier that I was really excited to meet and get to work with. He’s a Spanish actor. He did Blow with Johnny Depp and he’s got one of these really amazing scenes where he’s kind of drugged out of his mind. He looks at Johnny Depp and makes these really weird hand movements and he’s like, ‘bye, bye, bye,’ and he’s just one of the most intimidating actors to see on film. He plays our bad guy. The story is about two young men who go in search of very different destinies in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. They both want to go on vacation. One is trying to find love. My character is trying to find a good time. And when they get to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, it’s kinda just Murphy’s Law. Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. And it becomes this kind of wild, fun adventure. A coming of age story. And I think that the film, I finally got to see it finished a few weeks ago, and it really looks great. It’s really funny. It’s a really good teen comedy. And I think for me, as an actor you’re always thinking ‘Can I do more? Can I do more?’ and that was one film experience where they kind of gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted, to take chances, you know? And on the final cut, there’s so much of just me and Devon, which I love, and a lot of it is just laughs and fun and comedy, doing some improv – the kind of things that you surprise yourself with. So Sundown is kind of all of that. It’s kind of a culmination of really hard work, really crazy experiences, and then just adventure. I think there’s an entire sequence in the film, like 220 shots, where I’m naked in a car, running from the law – from the Mexican policía. And it’s crazy funny. It’s really, really funny. There’s like a moment where I wake up naked next to Devon and our super hero, Chuy, in the back seat wakes up. He scares us because we don’t even know he’s in the car and then in order for him, our little super hero taxi driver, to save us, he’s gotta get into the driver’s seat. And we’re all stuck in this car and we’re all very naked so it’s like these weird body wrestling matches with all these naked men and it’s just SO funny. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that funny. And so, yeah, that’s what Sundown is. It’s this really kind of incredible comedy adventure story about these two young guys going to Mexico. It’s GOOD!”
When will we be able to see it?
“Good question. I think it comes out next spring. I just heard that we have a thousand theaters so far. And after that I’m sure it’ll be on Netflix. As of right now, they’re just trying to organize getting it into more theaters, but a thousand is a really good place to start, seeing as it just finished being filmed about three weeks ago. So it looks like next March or April I think we can expect it and it should be pretty easily accessible to see in most major cities, you know?”
You mentioned being crazy for the entire time that you were filming, so I have to ask: Do you tend to go more method, then? Or what kind of an acting style do you have?
“That’s a really good question. I’m not trained enough, classically, like in a school – I haven’t done method classes – but I guess I’ve found that being a character more than NOT being a character is really beneficial. Especially in comedy. You know, it’s really hard to carry – for me at least – it’s really hard for me to carry a really high energy – like in Sundown I’m playing the really kind of provocative, obnoxious, crazy, hornball friend who’s always stealing the fire – and in order to keep that energy up, if I ever switched it OFF, it would be hard to ramp right back up into that. So I guess I am a little method, especially out there while I was in Mexico, they said I could just keep it up so that every time they rolled the camera, I didn’t even need any kind of energy spark that my character was supposed to bring. But that’s not always the perfect thing because actors are always the best critics, you know, and – or, the worst critics, rather – and there is this one scene where I think I did have just too much energy, where I think I should have calmed down for that, but otherwise I think method tends to be a good thing, just not always. It’s hard. I did a movie in Virginia where I was playing a young Confederate soldier and I had to have a Southern accent and that character was just a sad, angry character. And I didn’t want to be just a [said in Southern accent] sad Southerner who just wants to murder the Yankees all the time. You know? (laughs) So I’m MUCH more myself in that process. But days when you’re filming and you’re right off camera and they say things like, ‘Alright, rehearsals will be up in a minute,’ and you’ve got five or ten minutes and you’re walking around looking at all the other actors on set, that was really neat to see that me and the other actors were all still in character even when the cameras were off. So if you’re on set, I think there should be a bit of method to your character, you know? I don’t know too many people who can switch on and off between themselves and a character that they worked really hard to develop.”
Do you have any other projects coming up that you ARE allowed to talk about?
“Sundown is my new movie I can talk about it because it’ll be coming out in the next year. Gameropolis because I’m doing that with my brother and it’s ours so I can talk about it as much as I want to. And the show I’m working on now I can’t talk about. Then the movie I did in Cape Town is a horror movie – that should be out by the end of this year or early next year as well. And a lot of us who are in that are working now quite a bit so I imagine it should get a scheduled release and I should get a chance to talk about it so I’ll make sure we contact you and let you know. It’s a really cool horror movie based off of social media and it’s kind of a modern take on possession and I get brutally murdered and it’s kind of amazing. So I can talk a little bit about it. I just can’t tell you what it is. Other than that, I’m getting into a little stand-up and after I get good enough, I’ll put that stuff up on YouTube, get it up on a channel.”
I’m excited to see that!
“(laughs) Just wait till after you see Sundown. I don’t get any funnier than that. I’m a crazy Cuban dude and like most other crazy Cubans, I’m loud, obnoxious, I talk at a pitch of ten all the time…and that’s kind of my stand-up theme. It’s just a lot of me yelling. I’m kind of like those guys who yell and then stop until people are ready to hear them yell again. So I’m working on it. It’s hard. It is a hard ballgame for performers, you know? But it’s quite fun to tackle.”
Keep an eye out for Sean’s movie, Sundown, and all his other projects that should be available SOON!