Jane the Virgin might be centered around Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez, but the real scene-stealer is Jaime Camil, who plays Rogelio de la Vega. Rogelio can only be described as an over the top actor-turned-father to Jane Villanueva, on one of the most talked about shows on TV right now. Camil, who is well-known throughout Latin America burst onto the American scene and quite frankly we don’t think we want to ever give him back. Camil is not only nailing his portrayal of the self-centered telenovela star (with a soft spot for his family), but he brings the charm and delivers some of the best comedic moments on The CW series.
The Mexico City native not only steals the spotlight with his award-winning acting on that show with the odd name and insane premise, but he also is an accomplished singer, producer and has starred in countless films. Basically, there’s nothing this guy can’t do. His knack for theatrics is something that continues to get his character on “Best” lists across the web, including many of my own.
Camil is as humble as he is talented, and chatted with me at length about what’s coming up for his character on Jane the Virgin. Not to mention he gushed about his cast being the best there is on TV (which after I visit the set, I can officially confirm. ha), and how the great Rogelio would do if he was dropped into another CW show, like The Flash or iZombie.
Let’s get dramatic!
JAIME CAMIL: I don’t know. I’ve done more films in Mexico than Novellas. The novellas that I worked on are more like sitcoms. I did the Mexican version of Ugly Betty and I did one that was like Mrs. Doubtfire. You can imagine me as a woman. I do more of the comedic side to be honest. But of course, I grew up in Mexico so I’m very aware of the genre and the tone and the melodramatic acting and I have a lot of friends who are renowned telenovela actors and worldly famous. I know the culture and I grew up in a culture where they’re the kinks of this genre and TV producing.
MM: Your character is hilarious but also extremely heartfelt. Would you say that’s why fans really resonated with this character? Because he has that duality?
JC: I do think I am very privileged and extremely lucky because Jennie Urman and her team of writers write brilliant material for my character so the only thing I have to do is not screw it up and deliver it correctly. But that’s part of the reason. The other reason is that in Jane’s universe, we all come from a very sincere place. We’re not clowns trying to throw pies at people’s faces and then another pie and another pie because then at the fifth pie it’s like “dude, what else do you have to offer?” The character would become boring without any layers. They write brilliant stuff so you can hear Rogelio saying this ridiculous thing like “I want my daughter to have the pleasure of knowing me” and you have two options: to slap him or hug him. And for some reason the audience has decided to hug him and be like “that’s so nice.” It’s not nice. It’s ridiculous. He is from this ridiculous universe but he’s so sincere and so honest and has moments with his daughter that are so heartfelt, that makes the character very well balanced. And I think every actor on Jane, we come from a very honest, deep and sincere place no matter how absurd the situation turns out to be and I think that’s what connects or resonate with the audience.
MM: Your character has gone through the ringer a little bit, finding out he has a daughter and being kept from her all these years. Now that Rogelio’s mom and dad are through for good and she gave him that ring and her blessing to marry Xiomara, do you think there are going to be wedding bells in the future?
JC: I can tell you spoilers — but then I’ll get fired by Jennie and I’ll have to hunt you down. But I’ll tell you this, in the next episode Jane and her mother are childproofing Rogelio’s apartment and they may stumble upon the ring. And madness ensues. You’ll have to tune in to find out what happens after that.
MM: Well we’re looking forward to it. Since you mentioned that his apartment is getting baby proofed, a lot of people want to know if there’s a chance for Jane to have a sibling in the future? Are there any babies ahead for them?
JC: Rogelio is a family man and he wants more kids but he can be eccentric and whether or not Xiomara wants kids or not might be in question.
MM: Jane the Virgin has a very strong Latino presence. Did you ever have concerns that the project wouldn’t be well received in America?
JC: Not at all. I think projects, regardless of nationality or ethnicity or demographic, need to be based on a good book. If you have good writing and good scripts, it doesn’t matter the language or the accent or if you have a thick accent. I think it’s a brilliant, very cleverly written script and I think — paraphrasing Gina in every acceptance speech or interview she gives — that’s the clue to Jane, that it’s a beautiful story. The fact that it has a Latino heritage is definitely important but that’s not the cover of this book. The family could be from Vietnam from Turkey, from whichever country. That’s not the important thing. Of course it helps. In the US we have a strong Latino community and 85% of this minority is from Mexico. Of course that helps and connects more with this minority in this country which is also the economic engine of this country, regardless of what Mr. Trump thinks [laughs]. It’s a very well written show that just happens to have a Latino heritage. But that’s not the main narrative of the show.
MM: The story is so universal that any family could relate. Obviously you guys are doing really well. Gina Rodriguez has won a Golden Globe, you’re making countless lists, and everyone is singing Jane the Virgin’s praise. Did you guys expect it to blow up like this?
JC: No, of course not. You always want the best for your show. Pilot season about two years ago, I got three direct offers for pilots and I read — one was a thing for a very special appearance on Narcos, one was an ABC project and the other was Jane the Virgin. I read the three scripts and they were good but Jane the Virgin just captivated me. It was full of light, full of creativity. It was so fast paced and the storytelling was so brilliant. So I talked to my manager about it and ABC might be a bigger network but I was like “guys, this script is so–” and it came down to hey let’s not forget why you became an actor, because you love stories and you love to portray interesting characters so my decision is Jane and thank God I chose wisely. I am very privileged to be nominated for a Critics Choice Award twice. Gina won the Golden Globe and was nominated again this year. We’ve won the Peabody, the AFI, the People’s Choice. We’ve been extremely fortunate and blessed with the show. But the most important thing is to be on the list of employed actors in Los Angeles. That’s a very privileged list to be in. We love to come to work and we love each other very much. You’ve heard these horror stories about shows where the leads can’t stand each other and it’s horrible, the mood on set. We love each other so much. We love to come to work every morning. We joke all the time. We have an open chat and we chat with each other every single day. We went to hiatus on our first hiatus and on the first day of season two, it felt like we never left. We’re family. That’s the beauty of it.
MM: That’s so amazing to hear. Obviously the fans love you too. You have a fierce fan following. What’s it like dealing with that on a daily basis? Do you ever get overwhelmed?
JC: I go through the messages and try to read them as much as I can and focus on the good ones. Fortunately I have good statistics, 98% are good. I try to read the good ones and reply to them as much as I can but I have a family. I have a wife and two kids, a four year old daughter and a one year old son. So of course when I’m working like crazy on a show and whatever — I try to be active on my social media. The good thing is I have never hired someone to boost my followers or anything like that. Everyone you see on my Twitter and my Instagram are people who want to be there. You have these accounts with twenty million followers and four retweets and three favorites. How can that be? You have other accounts with three and four million followers and 500 tweets. I try to be in contact with them and they’re so supportive and whenever they have to vote on polls and internet, they’re super active.
MM: Has playing this character taught you any important life lessons?
JC: Yes. That I do pop in peach and that lavender will never be my color [laughs]. No, to be honest, he’s a fun character. If you ask me about Eva, the project I did in Mexico where I payed a woman I would have a more clear answer like “yes, I love portraying a woman and how beautiful it was to see what they go through and misogynists and so on and so on.” This project has been more on the light side and it’s super fun to play Rogelio but I don’t know about life lessons.
MM: I can see that. Stepping in other people’s shoes, if you could play another character on Jane the Virgin, for a day who would it be?
JC: Michael. I like Brett Dier’s character a lot. We have a bromance on that show but besides that, he’s a great character. He goes through a lot. He’s a very deep character because of the history he has with Jane. I would love to play that character.
MM: How do you think Rogelio would do on another CW show like iZombie or The Flash?
JC: Rogelio would be a kick ass zombie if you ask me. He would be amazing. But probably he would only eat virgin brains. He would eccentric in some weird, stupid way. But I do love the CW family. I’m always supporting our shows on Social Media, as you know. When they get nominated or they win like when Rachel Bloom won, “amazing, Rachel congrats… hashtag, CW Family.” Whenever we go to the Upfronts and we go with shows like Arrow and Flash and other shows, we always end up at the party and last year I was dancing like crazy with Emily Bett from Arrow and Adelaide Kane because Adelaide used to work with Yael. Yael, Petra was also on Reign. It is a close family and a beautiful family. Also this guy, a very good looking guy, Ian Somer– what’s his name?
MM: Ian Somerhalder?
JC: Exactly! We were dancing and having drinks and it’s a very close and beautiful family to be honest. I love going to the Upfronts and hanging with all of them. We have an amazing president, Mark Pedowitz. He’s a cool guy and a strong leader. He believes in diversity like no other leader in Hollywood. It’s a beautiful family.
MM: Are there any interests or random facts about you that your fans might not know about?
JC: No, I’ve been doing this forever, twenty years so my fans know me pretty well. But right now, future projects, I just signed a deal with a writer’s friends of mine because there’s a script — I’ve done way more film than television so I feel way more at ease in a film set than a television set. I just signed a deal to do an amazing script called Tenebris which is a psychological thrilled in the line of The Others or the Sixth Sense. We finally signed the deal so I’m trying to raise the money for that movie and hit my next hiatus to shoot that in Canada, probably. That’s what I’ll be doing my next hiatus.
MM: That sounds exciting. Now do you prefer doing comedy or do you like tackling other genres?
JC: I love romantic comedies. That’s what I do the most, filmwise and TV wise. That’s where I feel at ease, in that genre. I love it. But I’ve done theater, I’ve done broadway, experimental short films. I’m an actor at the end of the days o I have to work for the book and whatever the director and the book needs. So of course, there are some genres that I’ve been doing more continuously like romantic comedy or comedies which I love of course. I think it’s harder to make people laugh than to make people cry. This movie Tenebris will be very dark and very The Others kind of tone. I’m very excited for that.
MM: That’s going to be really interesting, I can’t wait for that. To sign off, why should people tune into Jane the Virgin?
JC: It’s a beautiful show that comes from a sincere and honest place. We’re not trying to be clowns. We’re not trying to make people laugh because we’re goofballs on set. We’re sincere and honest actors portraying this universe that might be eccentric. I mean, you should have seen us walking in the first Upfronts. First of all no one wants to interview you. They’re like “who are you? Why are you here? What’s your name? What’s your show?” “Jane the Virgin.” “Jane the who? What?” And then the magic question pops: “What’s it about?” Right? So you’re like “oh it’s about a girl who gets artificially inseminated by accident. “Dude, keep walking. Get out of my way.” It’s safe to say that our second Upfronts was a very different one from the first one. But explaining to someone that they need to watch the show is very difficult. I have people telling me “man, I finally binge watched on Netflix. What a great show.” I would tell people if they haven’t watched Jane the Virgin, don’t get discouraged by a very strange title. It’s a very good show, written by amazing writers. There’s a reason why Jane has one the People’s Choice, The AFI, the Golden Globe, the nominations. There’s a reason for it. People should give Jane the chance and they will find a deep story with actors that are very sincere and honest. We love each other and if we can translate the love we have for each other through the screen, which I think we accomplish that, because when people watch Jane they connect so much to the show. That’s what I would tell your readers.
MM: Well that is something great. We love the show. We love you. Thank you so much for chatting with me.
JC: My pleasure. Thank you for your support and your love. I love reading your beautiful, kind words about my work.
Jane the Virgin airs Mondays at 9|8c on The CW