We kind of knew of each other in our younger years doing theater, but it was our first time working together. He wasn't just lead actor on this; he acted like he was part of the ensemble, and he was also a producer on it. From eating with the crew to going over a scene to never being late, he was always very present. He's definitely made me a better person because of the example that he set. I learned pretty early on that it's really about the people that you work with. I feel like he and Robert De Niro, who's the exact same way, are like artistic angels.
Do you think he's going to be around as long as De Niro?
No doubt. His priorities are set in such a way that there's no question that he's in it for the long-haul. He has a tremendous amount of respect for acting.
You once played Willie Colon in El Cantante. What's your favorite Fania album?
That movie was such a dream for me, it really was. I'm a huge research guy in anything that I do and so even though I was a fan of the music and I grew up with it [in Brooklyn] I didn't really know the history of it and the impact it truly had until I was able to see a lot of that footage and read stories and just listen to so many of the songs. I had albums all over my trailer and pictures. If I had to pick a favorite album, El Malo would be one of them. That music is good old-fashioned medicine. I actually need a dose of that right now – maybe the Christmas albums.