PRIMO - Season 1 Key Art | ©2023 Freevee

PRIMO – Season 1 Key Art | ©2023 Freevee

The new comedy series PRIMO premieres its first eight-episode season on Friday, May 19, on Freevee. Set in San Antonio, Texas, the series follows teen Rafa (Ignacio Diaz-Silverio), his single mother Drea (Christina Vidal), and Drea’s five brothers, who all help raise their nephew.

Henri Esteve plays Drea’s next-to-youngest brother, Mike. Esteve, originally from Miami, Florida, began his acting career on stage in New York before moving to Los Angeles. He has been in the feature films DEEPWATER HORIZON and THE BLACKOUT, and had recurring roles on REVENGE, HOMECOMING, and GROWN-ISH.

In a phone interview, Esteve talks about playing an integral part of the PRIMO family.

ASSIGNMENT X: How would you say that PRIMO is different from GROWN-ISH? Is playing family-centered comedy different than a school-set new relationships comedy?

HENRI ESTEVE: Yeah. I think in GROWN-ISH, everybody was coming of age, and the lack of family was interesting. I think when you put family into anything, the love goes up, and once the love goes up, the stakes are higher. Also, [Esteve’s character] Javi didn’t have many real relationships in GROWN-ISH. He had the relationship with Francia [Raisa]’s character, Ana, and a budding friendship with Trevor [Jackson]’s character. Past that, I didn’t have relationships that really meant a lot to Javi on that show. And here, I have six relationships that all are people I would die for, that Mike would die for.

AX: What is Mike’s role within the family, among his siblings?

ESTEVE: I think Mike would say he’s the leader. I don’t think he is [laughs]. He’s vying for the position. He definitely has the hero mindset of the family. He’s definitely the dude who, if there was a candle left on [burning] at the house, Mike would be the one to run back to blow it out. And he is the disciplined one, in relation to everybody else. It’s one of the most important virtues for him.

AX: Is Mike’s relationship to his sister Drea substantially different to his relationship with their brothers?

ESTEVE: Yeah. I think Drea is the matriarch of the family, and I think there is respect with Drea that there isn’t with the other brothers. There’s so much love between everyone in this family, but I think with Drea specifically, if she lays down a law, or puts her foot down, everyone respects it, across the board. And if the brothers lay down the law or try to put their foot down, none of the other brothers are going to respect that boundary [laughs].

AX: What is Mike’s relationship like with Rafa?

ESTEVE: I think all of us have a similar relationship with Rafa, where we love him and are trying to impart what we think is best for him. Mike opens his eyes to something late in the season that changes Rafa’s life. Every episode, an uncle steps up and helps Rafa grow and come of age. But with Mike specifically, where I think Rafa gets a trajectory change.

AX: What does Mike do professionally?

ESTEVE: He’s an Army recruitment officer. So, after Mike came back from being deployed, he started working in a recruitment office.

Henri Esteve | ©2023 ConsciousLivingPR

Henri Esteve | ©2023 ConsciousLivingPR

AX: Did you do any sort of research into what Army recruitment officers are like in order to play Mike?

ESTEVE: I went to a recruitment fair and sat there, creepily watching the Army recruitment officers for a couple hours, and [watched] documentaries. That was really as far as it went. But the military aspect of my acting is more so in his discipline and his desire for structure than anything. I think that the family is so chaotic in itself, and the military was the antithesis of that.

AX: Do you have any input into Mike, as far as talking to the writers?

ESTEVE: The season was written before I came on. They had already finished all eight episodes by the time everybody got cast. But [creator] Shea [Serrano] was definitely open to us building the characters ourselves, and coming in with ideas, and was super-open to ad-libs and improv.

I think, as the season went on, the characters molded to us a little bit, and we started molding to them more and more, and we were able to really just start having fun, and knowing what our characters would say. The show runners were pretty gracious about letting us try stuff, and sometimes it would be great, and sometimes it would be terrible, but I feel like a lot of it made the cut. I don’t really watch anything I’m in [laughs], but from what I’ve heard, a lot of ad-libs ended up making it in the final cut.

AX: You don’t like watching yourself?

ESTEVE: No, not at all. I try to avoid it as much as I can.

AX: PRIMO is set in San Antonio, Texas. Where do you shoot?

ESTEVE: We shoot in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

AX: You’re originally from Miami. Is that an easy or a hard place to start to become an actor?

ESTEVE: Yes, I am from Miami. I think it’s a hard place – I think now it might be getting a little bit easier. When I was growing up, I didn’t know any actors. I had never really heard of anyone becoming an actor from Miami, [except for] Andy Garcia, and Enrique Murciano. His career hadn’t really blown up the way it has now, buthis name was being thrown around.

But past that, I had no idea where to start. I was supposed to go to college in Boston and get a Communications degree. Last second, I pulled out, and I went to New York instead. I got my bearings for a year or two, and then ended up attending Strasberg, and getting into the theatre scene.

AX: Having studied at Strasberg, are you a Method actor, or was that just the educational process?

ESTEVE: I think it was an educational process. I haven’t had to do anything – I haven’t had a role that required me to go Method, and I think Method at Strasberg and Method in pop culture are two different things. It’s become this thing [in pop culture mythology] of staying in character for three months, but the way it was taught, it was much more crafted with emotional memory and just working scenes through exercises and the craft he created, and then letting it just be there when you start acting. I don’t know where it turned into being in character for three months. [laughs] If the role required it, I’d probably be down, but I haven’t had to go there yet.

AX: You also have a very interesting-sounding dog, a German Shepherd/coyote mix. What’s that like?

ESTEVE: The coyote really just comes out when he’s in the wild, or upset, or with his diet. He looks like a Shepherd-colored coyote. He’s a cute guy. He won’t eat anything that’s not meat, cheese. Anything else, like regular dog food with no meat in it, he scoffs at you.

AX: You were in the film THE BLACKOUT, which was about Hurricane Sandy, which hit Cuba, the Bahamas, and the U.S. East Coast, among other places, in October 2012. Did you experience Hurricane Sandy in real life?

ESTEVE: No, I was in Miami. But in Miami, I grew up with hurricanes very regularly, and we used to have hurricane parties, where lights would go out, people would lose electricity, and then people would just throw parties that were lit by candles and flashlights, and the sound was from a speaker or a boombox. So, I drew on that. I definitely know what those parties feel like. THE BLACKOUT was a little sweeter of a party than what those Miami high school parties were, but yeah, I know the vibe over there.

AX: And what was STUCK? IMDB says you directed it, but there’s no further information on it.

ESTEVE: STUCK was a first attempt at directing. It was a first iteration of what then turned into THE INCALCULABLE DISTANCE TO THE MOON, which is a short I directed. There is a feature that we’ve thought about taking out that goes with it.

AX: So, you also would like to direct?

ESTEVE: Yes. I would love to direct, films mostly, in the way certain actors direct, where they direct five to seven movies in their career. I don’t want to be a director-director, but I do love directing actors, and telling stories with them.

AX: Is the Writers Guild strike affecting you right now?

ESTEVE: Yeah. Our PRIMO [in-person] premiere is May 17, and as of right now, the show runners, executive producers, and writers are not allowed to come. So, in that capacity, it’s already starting to take hold. They’ve written Season 2, but we don’t know when it’ll go into production.

Those are the ways it’s affecting us right now, physically, but I think what’s happening with WGA is much bigger than Hollywood writers versus Hollywood studios and streamers. I think it’s happening all over America, and it is laborers versus huge corporate conglomerates, and I think it affects all of us in a really big way.

AX: And what would you most like people to know about PRIMO?

ESTEVE: It comes out May 19 on Amazon Freevee, and you can watch it on Prime. I just want people to tune in and fall in love with these people.

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Article: Exclusive Interview: Actor Henri Esteve on his new Freevee series PRIMO



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