Esai Morales promises that as the intricate and atmospheric saga of Syfy’s ‘Caprica’ unfurls, “impossible” plot twists and “major, major surprises” will be the order of the day. Fancast spoke with Morales about his work on the show, his co-stars (one of whom possesses a superhuman belching ability), and which TV staples he’s a fan of.
What point are you at in terms of filming?
EM: We have [a few] more to do. And it’s really devastating stuff to do. I’m not looking forward to the emotional drudgery. It’s one of those things that you can’t believe when you read it. You go, “Oh my god….” I can’t give it away, but it is a major, major surprise.
The impression we get from the first few episodes is that your character is involved in organized crime, albeit reluctantly. Would you say that’s accurate?
EM: You could say that. Put it this way – he’s from Tauron, and he chose what would be the equivalent of the all-American way. Trying to play by the rules – but they never let you forget where you come from. So at the same time, he’s indebted to the man who put him there. The father figure of the [crime family] who paid for the “education” of my brother and I. My brother of course took the more direct route – as an enforcer. And I am a lawyer who will do things out of a sense of loyalty, but I am not a made member – at this point. I resent all that sort of stuff. It goes against the image we’re trying to portray, which is ‘We’re above that kind of thing.’ But when Mr. Graystone needs something that he balances against what I need – which is contact with my beloved daughter or wife – and I make that compromise you see in the pilot, where I tell my brother, ‘Yeah, yeah – do that. I need a favor.’ He says, ‘You need a favor?’ and he’s surprised because I’m not the kind of person who trades in favors with organized crime. Yet I’m not holier than thou. That’s what I love about my character. He doesn’t like what he’s doing, but – who does in our world? We’re all part of some bigger system we don’t like to go along with, if you really analyze things.
The show also deals with the concept of cheating death and trying to achieve immortality. If you were in Joseph’s place, would you be torn as he is on the issue, or would you find yourself more quickly aligning with being for or against what Graystone is trying to achieve?
EM: I’m playing him very close to me. It’s rare that I get characters that are somewhat close to me in the education or life experience range. I’ve had a varied experience filled life, and they color me! So this character, I like playing him close to me, with a few differences. I would just say that I would probably be in the same place, because there’s common sense, and then there’s emotional sense. And emotional sense says, “I don’t care. I want my mommy. I want my baby. I want my doggie. I want my daughter. I don’t care.” There’s this human need to connect to life, and especially life that you’re brought forth. It’s like a job that’s unfinished if your child dies before you.
Your most powerful scenes, at least in these first few episodes, seem to be with Eric Stoltz. If you had to describe him using only three words, which three would you use?
EM: I would say, first: professional. Second: extremely witty. And third: extremely guarded.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
EM: Hyper-conscious. Or maybe that’s just one of the words: hyper! And conscious. And loving.
As far as your other cast members go, can you share any behind the scenes scoop – about maybe who is the best practical joker, or who might have the most disgusting habit?
EM: I will say that there’s a young lady in the show – I don’t want to get into who – who has a very, very grotesque burp and who lets it out when you least expect it. I was out with her and another young lady – they invited me out to lunch, and I’m kinda like Uncle Esai – and we’re getting out of the car, and there’s another car of people, a huge family of people that you can tell are visiting Vancouver. This girl lets out something that must have registered on somebody’s Richter scale. It almost doesn’t sound human. It didn’t sound like it could possibly be made by a female body. And these folks turned toward us, like, “Who could have made that sound?” All they saw were two lovely, dainty, innocent looking young ladies, and, me. I got the worst stare-down. I couldn’t have yelled, ‘Fire!’ in a theater and got a worse response! I was mortified. I started to give her stuff for it, like, “Can you chill that out?” but she was very, very proud of her capability.
We love her, though. I have to say that the cast is pretty amazing. Paula Malcomson? Boy, she’s a tough one. She’s the toughest one on our scripts, and we’re grateful. Paula and Eric basically have a very Mom and Dad kind of relationship. In a sense they’re the one and two couple on our show, and they’re very professional, and very passionate. Paula is possibly one of the most passionate actresses I’ve ever worked with, even though I don’t work with her. It was great when Eric was directing our episode and had Paula be there on her day off to kind of be his backup. Because an actor, when he’s directing, cannot watch himself and experience it at the same time. It actually hurts your work to be self-conscious. So it was wonderful. We called it the day the inmates took over the asylum.
Have there been any TV shows, past or present, that really rocked your world? Which shows are you a fan of?
EM: ‘Twilight Zone’ was just…in another galaxy, as far as television shows that really made you think and question. ‘60 Minutes.’ I still watch that religiously. These are my adult shows, although ‘Twilight Zone’ was throughout my life. As a child: ‘ The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.’ Which in a sense is what I’m doing now! [Laughs.] The cartoon ‘Underdog!’ I’m an underdog kind of guy. And ‘Batman’ and ‘The Flintstones.’ Oh – ‘Gilligan’s Island!’ ” would be nothing without ‘Gilligan’s Island.’
‘Caprica’ airs Fridays at 9/8 c on Syfy.