By Liz Lopez
Actor Nicholas Gonzalez on Bordertown and His Hometown
Bordertown, a new animated comedy series about two families living in a Southwest desert town on the U.S. – Mexico border, premieres Sunday, January 3 at 9:30/8:30C on FOX. The series takes a satirical look at the cultural shifts occurring in America, where the U.S. Census forecasts that by 2017, ethnic minorities will become the majority. Set against this increasingly diverse backdrop, the comedy explores family, politics and everything in between with a cross-cultural wink.
The comedy is voiced by stars Hank Azaria (The Simpsons), Nicholas Gonzalez (The Purge: Anarchy, Sleepy Hollow, Resurrection Blvd.), Alex Borstein (Family Guy), Missi Pyle (The Exes, Galaxy Quest) and Judah Friedlander (30 Rock). Among the additional voice cast is Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite, Casa de mi padre), Carlos Alazraqui (Pixels, Minions, Inside Out, Jane the Virgen) and Zach Villa (Honeyglue, NCIS: Los Angeles).
Created and written by Mark Hentemann (Family Guy), he and Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy creator) are executive producers. Serving as consulting producers are Lalo Alcaraz (La Cucaracha) and Gustavo Arellano (¡Ask a Mexican!). Valentina L. Garza (The Simpsons) is a supervising producer. Bordertown is produced by 20th Century Fox Television.
Bordertown centers on two families who live next door to each other: the Buckwalds and the Gonzalezes. Bud Buckwald (Azaria) is a married father of three and a Border Patrol agent who is just a tad behind the times and feels slightly threatened by the cultural changes transforming his neighborhood. He lives next door to Ernesto Gonzalez (Nicholas Gonzalez), an ambitious family man, who has been in the country less than 10 years, but is already doing better than Bud – which, it turns out, is a bit of an issue for Bud.
Nicholas Gonzalez portrays the character, Ernesto, as well as other voices in episodes of Bordertown and I was able to interview him prior to the Sunday premiere.
EL: Do you think your university studies and research abroad helped in your preparation or development in becoming an actor? If yes, how so?
NG: I think so, yeah. Life experience is essential for any actor. The more diverse the experience, the richer the work. Theater was perhaps the best prep as well.
EL: You have worked in theater, film and television, aside from the motion capture performance for the video game. Was performing in an animated series something you actively pursued as a progression in your career or how did this work come about for you?
NG: Definitely. I think for most actors it is a dream job. In animation you are only limited by the range of your voice. For once, one’s appearance is not a factor. Plus you can go to work in your pajamas and your work days are a couple hours at most.
EL: Born and raised in San Antonio, you are familiar with the diverse residents. Do you have memories of any real life individuals in Texas that might influence your portrayal of Ernesto or other characters you voice in the series?
NG: I always take from the characters that surround me in my own life to breathe life into the characters I portray. Many of my characters on Bordertown contain little mannerisms and inflections of people in my own family.
EL: You know the type of humor in the series. Has there been an episode written with lines for Ernesto to say that might have given you a reason to step back, take a deep breath, etc. when you read the script? If there was, how did you prepare yourself to go forth as your character? [I am not asking about citing any specific lines.]
NG: Not really. The humor is always risky and edgy but I welcomed it. The only thing that gave me pause was when Ernesto was asked to sing. Which was often!! Hahaha
EL: Do you have an opportunity to go off script (adlib somewhat) during any of the episodes when you portray either character?
NG: Mark (our creator) was always open to me improv-ing from my own experience as a Mexican American man from Texas. I’m not saying it was always used but I always threw something in there. He welcomed the enrichment and authenticity.
EL: What do you hope this series will achieve with the themes it has?
NG: I really hope it will cause people to look inside themselves at their own biases and bigotry and perhaps understand each other better. I really do hope it sparks some sort of debate.
EL: What do you miss about living in San Antonio or Texas?
NG: I miss my family and I miss my tortillas, menudo and the warm nature of my friends and the people of San Antonio. What a strong sense of culture and pride we have!
Source: 20th Century Fox Television (synopsis, photo/graphic)
Official Trailer: http://www.fox.com/watch/443369539749/7765855488