Exclusive: Interview with Julian Acosta
The CableTV blog team spoke to Julian Acosta (of “Hand of God,” “Madam Secretary,” and “Being Mary Jane”) to learn what we can expect in the number of shows he appears in this season. Click play to listen to the interview, or read the transcript below.
CTV: I know that you split your time in a few different cities, I’m wondering where you call home?
Julian: Oh, boy. It’s really hard. Where is home?…
CTV: Do you split your time pretty equally?
Julian: Yeah, I think all of them. It’s hard to say, it’s one of them. I mean, when I’m gone long enough, it’s time to go someplace else, and I’m looking forward to getting there, so…
CTV: Right, right.
Julian: If that doesn’t sound like home, I don’t know what does.
CTV: Gotcha. Well, it’s good. You have a few options. So, you have a few different projects going on right now which is no surprise. You’ve been in the industry for–like what? 15 years?
CTV: Have you always wanted to go into acting?
Julian: No. I did not. It was kind of an accidental course correction that happened while I was in junior college in North Harris College, Houston, Texas. I saw an audition notice for a play and I didn’t know anybody and figured there would be girls there, so I went, and I auditioned for a play. [laughs]
CTV: So, when you started your career, was there anyone or anything in particular that inspired you early on?
Julian: When I first started–I mean my first, you mean professionally or when I first started acting?
Julian: Early on it was a teacher by the name of Sherri White. She still works at junior college level in Texas; I think she’s Tomball College right now. She changed my life immensely. She always believed in me–definitely saw something in me that I didn’t, and pushed me harder than I would’ve ever pushed myself. At that time of my life nobody would have ever–if you walk into a room full of young people would have ever picked me as anyone who would have ever amounted to anything in life.
CTV: Why do you say that?
Julian: I was a very kind of misdirected young man at that time. I just had no idea what I wanted to do. I kept going from school to school. It wasn’t until I auditioned for that play that everything changed. And then I found this thing that kind of focused my drive, my energy, and passion into something that would– that was positive.
CTV: I love hearing that. Okay, so let’s get right to it. The full of Hand of God season was released early September of this year, which people can catch exclusively on Amazon, and the cast is amazing. There’s some seriously impressive star power on the show, right?
Julian: Yes. Incredible.
CTV: Yeah. So what’s it like working with all of those people?
Julian: Yeah, it’s a privilege; it’s fantastic, and on many levels it’s also–everybody’s there I think for the same reason which is they love the world that Ben Watkins just created so much that they’re there to kind of honor and create that world. You kind of don’t even notice–you know what I mean? Once you get over you initial like, “Oh my God! That’s Dana Delany!” And so, everybody just seems to, right away, kind of be on this track for the greater good.
CTV: Totally. You all mesh really well together, so I get what you’re saying. Do you have any surprising facts or little secrets about working with the Hand of God cast that your fans might be interested in? It could just be like a funny story or maybe a ritual that you or a group of you have before being on set or something.
Julian: Yeah, I have a ritual–a new one–that I am going to steal from Andre Royo because I thought it was a brilliant idea. He had a poster framed that it was a favorite poster of his. When we were working on our last episode, he brought it to set and he just had all of us put in an individual signature with a few words on it. It was something he wanted to keep from this experience and hang it in his office or console. I thought that was such a great idea, and just a great way to have something you can just kind of take a glimpse at your daily life to remind you of something. I’m not very good at marking those experiences, so I just thought that was a great way to do that.
CTV: Yeah, totally simple and yeah, something you’ll keep forever. I love that. So, what’s it like working on a show on a streaming network versus a traditional on air TV series? There’s lots of differences there in some ways, I imagine.
Julian: There is in the sense, on one side of it, you’re trying to talk about what’s going on, what’s happening, story lines, a little bit more stringently than necessarily on some relay broadcast shows, although you’re still pretty protective of those. So, there’s a–there’s also a leading up to the premiere because that they all do come out at the same time. There’s more of a–it’s like a higher energy feeling, almost like a carnival circus came to town. Then, on the other side, when it starts airing, you start–with the nature of streaming, most people, I would bet they don’t watch one episode at the time. I think people really wait for a weekend and don’t just watch one episode. So, that’s interesting when you start getting calls from friends and loved ones.
CTV: Totally. So kind of a follow-up to that, why should people choose Hand of God as maybe this weekend’s binge watch show?
Julian: Because of the subject matter, because of the incredible writing and performances of the show. I think it takes a look at one man’s struggle to–in his quest to revive his son and get that value–that relationship back in his life. Now it’s somehow stepped into a struggle with faith, and what faith is, and what it means to him, and how imperfectly we all kind of struggle with that and how we practice it. And so, it just–it blends all these different– it shines a light on all these different aspects of how we try to conduct ourselves in a world that seems inexplicable. We’re trying to find a way to explain it, or find meaning, or find reasons for certain things that happen to us and our loved ones, you know?
CTV: Yeah, definitely. What about season two, do we know–do we have any idea if when we can expect to hear about that or if there’s a season two?
Julian: I don’t. It’s kind of early on. But I’m sure we’ll hear.
CTV: Well, let me jump into Madam Secretary as well. Can you tell us a little bit about your character? I’m sure you can’t say a ton yet, but…?
Julian: My character is Craig Sterling. He’s a national security adviser to the President of the United States which is played by Keith Carradine. And I come on this season as a special adviser to him, and–I mean, what I can say is that it’s pretty–it’s possible or highly likely that I will be in kind of direct conflict, and sometimes opposition to, Tea Leoni’s character, Elizabeth McCord.
CTV: Okay. I know that once you’re in the role, like you said about the Hand of God cast, you’re just in it–everyone’s in it together, but what about working with Tea Leoni–what’s that like? I mean, she’s amazing.
Julian: I mean, I think you just said it. She’s amazing, she is–she’s hilarious she is–she’s so funny, first of all. Her first show, Flying Blind–I remember this is way, way back in the day–I remember watching that show. And I was like, “Oh my God! This woman is a complete genius.” And she’s just so generous, patient, and sets the tone offset, and she’s just a pleasure to work with–pleasure to work with. And I think everybody else, they’re still appreciative of that fact, so it just creates a fantastic work environment.
CTV: Very cool. I want to also make sure we get to Being Mary Jane as well. Your character Gael was introduced during season two as Kara’s love interest. Can you tell us anything about at all about what we maybe can expect with the relationship? Again, I’m sure, you can only say so much, but we want to know what happens on season three!
Julian: I think you can expect anything and everything.
CTV: And I have to ask about the scholarship you started. Can you tell us a bit about that? What inspired you to start that?
Julian: A couple of things. First of all, my frustration with constantly reading about the economic situation of Puerto Rico and feeling powerless to do anything about it, and trying to come up with a way, however small, that one could–that I could do something to have any kind of impact. My paternal grandmother was a teacher in a small town. Just kind of thinking about it and coming up with a way–I just went to a school one day with one of my dad’s friends who still lives in that small town. The principal was gracious enough to take a meeting with us. I kind of explained there what I want to do. She was just so accommodating in giving me the opportunity to be of service. Yeah, that’s kind of how it all started. It was just an afternoon meeting with the principal of a high school, and we just did our first year. The goal is just increase the funding every single year.
CTV: That’s awesome. We’re curious about any new projects you have that might be coming up. I heard something about The Portrait’s Secret…
Julian: Yeah, it’s a Spanish language film. It’s kind of done, in development, pre-production. NCIS: Los Angeles airs in a few weeks. It’s a great guest star I just did on that, and then Madam Secretary.
CTV: And one last question that I think our social media followers would love to know is, if you could guess star on any new show that you haven’t been on before, or repeat role on any show, what might it be?
Julian: New show? Peaky Blinders. Repeat show? Dirt.
CTV: Okay, perfect. And then, where can people find you on social media?
Julian: @TheJulianAcosta [on Twitter], and Facebook.
CTV: Perfect. Well, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Julian: Thank you very much.
Sarah is a writing teacher and pop culture addict. Her current TV obsessions include "The Mindy Project" and "Girls" (and endless reruns of "Sex and the City"). She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram.