An Interview with Edward James Olmos
Jess, to me, is a cross between Archie Bunker and Zorba the Greek.
Mr. Olmos on his character
|Edward James Olmos|
Tell us about your character, Jess.
Jess, to me, is a cross between Archie Bunker and Zorba the Greek. Hes a fun-loving guy whos very conservative. Of course, his family is ultra-liberal, so hes constantly at his wit's end with all of [the other members of the family], and especially Nina, one of his daughters. It makes for a wonderful comedy, and at the same time, it makes for more provocative stuff when they get into problems.
What do you like about Jess?
The things I like about him are really fundamental. Hes fun-loving. He has a great robustness to his life. Hes bigger than life. Yet he has a great sense of balance when he gets down to the really difficult issues. The show itself is really its so nice to do this kind of a program. I think that the closest thing Ive ever done to it is a piece called Mi Familia, my family, which was a very, very wonderful piece of work done by the same creator of this created and wrote and directed that piece too. So its got that same those same values in it, which are very, very wonderful to work with.
How do you approach playing this character?
Basically, I think that there are some characters that you can just allow the truth of your character as a human being in your real life to come through. Spencer Tracey used to use that. John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda. They were themselves playing the different characters that they played. They had the feelings. Tom Hanks uses it a lot. Once in a while hell do a character, but basically, he's himself. It's pretty much the same way for me. Im dealing with my own sense of values here and I use my own sense of emotions.
What do you think a viewer will take from this program?
I think someone seeing the show will take away a sense of family values. Theyre seeing it through the eyes of a Latino family in the United States. Its wonderful. Its very simple, but very direct. The Gonzalezes are wholesome people. I dont think theres a malicious moment in any of the scripts. Theres no car crashes. Theres no drugs. Theres no violence per se. Its drama, human values in drama, comedy. It makes for fun, thought provoking moments. I like it, personally.