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An Interview with Bernardo Badillo


Photo: Veronica Hernandez

Bernardo Badillo is an actor known for his work on Sully, Queen of the South, and Emily the Criminal. I spoke with Bernardo about landing his first role, Emily the Criminal, working with Aubrey Plaza, and the best advice a director has given him on set.




Did you always want to pursue a career in acting, and how did you land your first role?


I’ve wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember. As a kid I always dreamt of being in films and television shows alongside some of my favorite characters. Of course, I didn’t know it was a paid job or how I was going to be in certain projects. I just knew I would be doing it someday.

Landing my first role was due to the connections I built while pursuing my BA in the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. After graduating from the program, one of my classmates was helping with the casting for the HBO film Walkout and she was able to secure me an audition. Unfortunately, I did not get the part I auditioned for, but they gave me a one-line role in the film. This role made me SAG and, as they say, the rest is history. The moral of the story is you never who will see and believe in you so make sure you’re always putting your best foot forward!


Is there anyone in the industry who has particularly influenced you?


Edward Norton has been a big influence in my career. He’s an incredible actor who’s brilliantly straddled the line between being a character actor and a leading man. Not to mention doing big mainstream projects as well as smaller independent films. This duality is something that I’ve always aspired to. I consider myself a character actor, but believe that I can also be a leading man. I look forward to making this belief/dream a reality.


You portray Javier in Emily the Criminal. Could you tell me more about your experience working on the film?


Working on Emily the Criminal couldn’t have been a more freeing experience. The entire cast and crew allowed me the freedom to play and to fill the characters shoes without limitations or constraints. My thoughts and opinions were always welcomed. There was absolutely no fear involved. I think there have been times in the past when I’ve felt under pressure, scrutinized, or judged for my performance choices to the point where I started to question everything I was doing even while filming. But in Emily the Criminal I felt supported and free to fly as the character. I think this freedom shows in my performance. It was a dream job!


What was the process like working with Aubrey Plaza?


Aubrey is so chill and down to earth that you feel an instant connection. We vibed right away and rehearsed in the make-up chairs, which coming from the theater was a breath of fresh air. I love to rehearse and most of the time in film and TV you don’t rehearse at all. You show up and you do it once for the camera and lighting set up and then you film. So, to get to rehearse with Aubrey as well as improvise was more than I could’ve imagined. She was a fantastic scene partner and I hope we get to work together again!


Is there a film, or role which you are most proud of?


Honestly, I’m the proudest of the work in Emily the Criminal. I’m my own worst critic and this was the first time I didn’t have any notes for myself. I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I feel like I did the role of Javier justice and it fit me like glove. As I mentioned before the freedom I felt on set and the end result on screen has amplified the trust I have in my choices and the work I uniquely bring to each character.


What’s the best advice a director has given you on a film set?


“Don’t think, just do.” Sometimes we overthink every moment and want to overanalyze instead of just being in the moment. Thoughts are important, but not if they get in the way of being active. I’ve really been applying that to not only my performances, but also my auditions and let me tell you it has been working.


Are you currently working on any projects?


Yes, I’m currently filming a recurring role on a new show for a major streaming network. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to divulge any information just yet. Hopefully I can talk about it at some point in 2023. Be on the lookout!

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