(Photo : Telemundo)
Jorge Luis Pila is one of Telemundo's biggest and brightest stars. The star has done six telenovelas with the company since 2009, including its recent hit "La Patrona."
During a recent interview with Latinos Post's David Salazar, the actor revealed that he never really wanted to be an actor and considered himself a "consequence of life."
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"I never wanted to be an actor," Pila revealed. "I am a person that just goes step by step, day by day and see where life takes you. It was just a coincidence.
"I am an immigrant and you know that the immigrants leave our countries to seek out better lives. Often times we start from the bottom. I started off as a dancer, then I did some modeling and before I even noticed, I was in front of a camera acting. So I think I am a consequence of life. It wasn't something that I wanted to do."
The telenovela heartthrob was actually born in the modern day Czech Republic back on August 3, 1972. His parents moved to Cuba shortly after his birth and he spent his adolescence on the island nation. He eventually moved to Mexico where he developed into an actor after studying at the Televisa Acting School. After 10 years in Mexico, he made the move to Miami where he has found success with Telemundo.
Among the telenovelas on his resume are "Mas sabe el Diablo," "Done esta Elisa?," "Aurora," " La Casa de al Lado," "Corazon Valiente," and his recent hit "La Patrona."
"La Patrona" recently finished its seven-month run in the United States on July 9 and is among the most successful novelas ever produced by Telemundo. Pila spoke about the experience of being the protagonist on the show and working alongside iconic talents such as Aracely Arambula and Christian Bach.
"It was amazing. Both women are excellent professionals," he marveled. "In Christian's case, she is among the best in this business. She's very professional and is always studying the script. She was a lot of fun to be around on set. She's one of those people that makes others around her happy; it was a great pleasure to work with her."
Regarding Arambula, he noted, "She is very classy and professional. She always gave her best on set and I think the success is clearly visible on screen. I think people are really happy with the work she did on 'La Patrona.'"
In the series, Pila played Alejandro Beltran, the son of Bach's evil Antonia Guerra, the boss of a small mining town in Mexico called San Pedro del Oro. He falls in love with a poor female miner Gabriela (Arambula), inciting the wrath of his mother. After falling into numerous traps, Alejandro winds up betraying Gabriela and involuntarily aiding in her imprisonment in a torturous rehabilitation center. Gabriela escapes and with help from some allies comes upon a number of riches. After a few years, she returns to San Pedro del Oro with a lot of money and a new identity seeking revenge on those who betrayed her. Alejandro winds up caught between his mother and the woman he loves. The Cuban actor noted that he was often perplexed by the character's instability and indecision.
"The character of Alejandro was created as the days and weeks passed. He wasn't fully fleshed out from the start," explained Pila. "This character of Alejandro, in his personal life, is indecisive. He goes right, left, up, and down. He's very conflicted, and to a certain extent, he is very insecure. Obviously, a lot of people don't like characters like that but the interesting thing is that it was a challenge for me to create a character like him and I think the result made it worthwhile."
He noted that when production began, he only had the scripts for the first 20 episodes. During that span, Alejandro goes from being an independent man willing to fight for what he loves, to one who betrays his beloved Gabriela and loses his strength. As the telenovela developed and Alejandro weakened, Pila felt surprised with the direction of the character and decided to talk to the writers to clarify.
"At around the 60th episode, I called up the writers and had a meeting with them because I wanted to know the direction of the character. The Alejandro of the 20th episode was not the same guy as the one in the 60th episode," he said. "It was a bit complicated because he was moving in one direction and then by the 60th episode he was doing something completely different. So I was a bit confused because I had no idea where he was going as a character."
The meeting yielded results as the group worked together to develop the character and even "straighten him out" a bit more.
"For example, it wasn't so necessary to incriminate him to the point of separating him from the female protagonist," Pila explained.
He emphasized that collaboration was a wonderful aspect of working with Telemundo.
"At Telemundo, you get a chance to talk to the directors and writers. Even with the producers. They are always ready to do what is necessary to make the best possible product. And I think that this was the case [with "La Patrona"]," he noted.
Despite the changes and his own creative input, Pila noted that he shared little in common with Alejandro.
"We are so different. I am decisive. I take risks. I fight for what I want. I make mistakes like everyone else," he asserted. "But this character was so weak and insecure. He made stupid mistakes and his changes were often, I think, illogical. He really had nothing in common with me but my job is to interpret a character and make him different. He doesn't have to be like me."
Aside from the difficult task of creating Alejandro, the thespian noted that the production featured some other difficulties. Since "La Patrona" takes place in a mine town, there were scenes filmed inside caves and outside a real mine.
"We filmed in a mine near Mexico where we shot a lot of exterior scenes," he said. "What you see inside the mine we did inside caves in Mexico. They were beautiful but the temperature was extremely cold."
Pila revealed that the temperature on set would often fall below zero degrees. Other major challenges of the shoot included the night shoots.
"We had a lot of night scenes. I would get tired waiting all day to do these intense scenes. You're still shooting past midnight and you're tired, but you still have to get it done. I think those are the scenes that gave me the most trouble," he admitted before adding that: "Overall, the production ran smoothly. All the scenes were difficult to do in some way. It wasn't an easy character at first, but after a few months, things started going smoothly."
"La Patrona" is based off the 1984 Venezuelan telenovela "La Duena," which is an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' celebrated novel "The Count of Monte Cristo." In both of those stories, the two lovers fail to find a happy ending. However, "La Patrona" decided to move away from these two versions and allowed Alejandro and Gabriela a chance to live happily ever after. Pila noted that he was happy with the conclusion, but added that the story was so well written that any ending would have been plausible.
"The ending depends on the writer, in this case Ms. [Valentina] Parraga. And she wanted a happy ending. This telenovela could have had any kind of ending because the character and story were so well developed," he noted.
"La Patrona" is not the only telenovela that Pila has worked on that was based on previous source material. The 2010 work "Donde esta Elisa?" was based off a Chilean series of the same name; "La Casa de al Lado" was also based on a Chilean melodrama. Despite having previous source material to help inform his performances, Pila noted that he tries to avoid mimicry when creating his characters.
"I make up the story in my head. I don't like to watch what has been done before. I don't want to limit myself by doing it," he revealed. "I try to do it my way with my style. I don't like to copy what others have done. In fact, that is a disadvantage for me as an actor."
Though the actor's resume is dominated by his work on the small screen, he revealed that he has been active in expanding his horizons and working in film. He has already started pre-production for a film called "Green Light" with another colleague.
"It is currently on stand by because I had to go to Mexico but we did 40-50 percent of the production," said Pila.
He also noted that he has another potential opportunity waiting in the wings.
"I might get the chance to go to Dominican Republic in August to do a project. They called me up and I just got the script a week ago. I am deciding if I do it or not," he elaborated.
Theater is also an option for the artist.
"I talked with Aracely [Arambula] about doing theater in Mexico thanks to the success of 'La Patrona.' I would love to do theater," he enthused.
Aside from his work in Telenovela, the actor revealed that he is passionate about sports and outdoor activities. In fact, he noted that being a baseball player would be his alternate career path.
"I would love to be a baseball player," he revealed. "I never had the opportunity. I'm not bad at it, but I never had the chance."
Other sports that he enjoys include basketball, tennis, and running. "Anything outdoors. I don't like being locked up indoors," he added.
However, his favorite activity of all is spending time with his daughter, Sabrina.
"I spent as much time as I can with my daughter. 99 percent of the time I am with her. It's what makes me whole. When I'm not working, I'm with her," he said. He added that he plans to take her to visit his birth nation of the Czech Republic so that the two can discover it together.
"I haven't had a chance to go there yet. I don't even know how it is," he revealed. "But I do plan to go now that I am on vacation. Especially so that my daughter can also see it."
Pila did not comment on future projects with Telemundo, but noted that he is proud of his body of work and is ready to take on anything that comes his way as long as it is a strong challenge and features a good character.
"I am passionate about good characters. I don't like clichés. If I like the characters I do them," he asserted. "Obviously protagonists get the best publicities and exposure. But I am a lover of good characters."
Entrevista con Jorge Luis Pila en Español