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Interview

The Breaking Bad Interviews: Luis Moncada
The 'Cousin' on acting with his brother and taking on Danny Trejo

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Warning: Contains spoilers for seasons 1 to 5A.

The Breaking Bad Interviews: Luis Moncada

How did you and Daniel come to be involved with the show?
I got called in to go audition for this show called Breaking Bad. I'd never heard of it. And just so you know, my brother had never done an acting job before, ever. So I went along and read the breakdown that said they needed twins. I'm thinking, 'I hope somebody that looks like me is there so we can audition at the same time!' I had a guy in mind that kind of looks like me and I was hoping he was there. He was not there!

After my audition, I talked with the casting guys - who knew me - and they were asking if I had any new tattoos. I told them I had one that my brother did. And when I said that, they said, 'You have a brother? Does he act?' 'Nooo... he does not have one credit.' They thought for a moment and then told me to bring him in tomorrow after helping him prepare. As soon as I left, I called my brother and told him to get to my house!

I threw him in a room with the scene, told him what to do, how to do it and he came out two hours later saying, 'I kind of know it...' I told him, 'No! You go back in that room and learn it!' He came back out a couple of hours later and we went through it. He knew the material but he was still a bit unsure. I gave him some coffee and made him do it again and again for I don't know how long.

We went in and he did his scenes, then we did some improv in Spanish. Two days later, they called us to say we'd got it. We were so excited! Party time! As soon as I got the job, I rented the first season and watched it in two days. I was so happy. And now it's the fifth season? I'm so honoured to have been part the show. It's amazing.

Why do you think it's so popular?
That's a good question. I think it's because it's so real. If you watch if from the pilot and you watch Walter and Jesse... Walter could just be your neighbour. In my case, you look at me and go, 'That guy is a mean motherfucker...' And you look at my neighbour and he looks like a super nice guy. That's Walter. People relate to him. It's just so real. The details of the show... The writing. It's so great. That's what I think it is.

Were people intimidated by you on set?
I think when we got to the set the first time, people maybe were a little bit intimidated.
I think when we got to the set the first time, people maybe were a little bit... But they didn't show it because everyone was friendly. And we were friendly to everyone! So happy to be there. And then, as soon as they call action we were all scowling and business. But after the first day or two we were friends with everyone! We even went to say hi to the caterers. All the crew are the best.

Did you distance yourself at all, to help stay in character?
We didn't. It's very easy to get into character for the cousins because we're serious people. If you see us at the gym, we're not going to be smiling. We're going to smile when you say hi to us. We're going to go from serious to a Colgate smile if that happens. And I guess in life. We've had a tough life, so it's easy to get into character that way.

Are people intimidated in real life?
People can be. They approach me and say I look so intimidating that they were nervous to talk to me. I ask them why and then I just hug them! It throws people off...

You're one of the few people to kill Danny Trejo onscreen, which is quite an achievement...
I know! No disrespect to Danny, but my favourite line for that is, 'We killed Machete with a machete. With his own machete!' That's a great thing. He's Hollywood's bad guy and the cousins killed Danny. It was good working with him too, he's a cool guy.

How was filming the shootout with Hank?
It was very complicated. First, they lost the location where we were going to shoot, which was a safer place. Where we ended up shooting was very public, so that was a setback two days before shooting. So they had to find an emergency location to go shoot, so that was a bad sign. It usually takes a lot more than a couple of days, but we did it in two.

The thing we did should have taken at least four days, but Michelle MacLaren, the director, was amazing. I'd do one scene by myself, and my brother was already prepping for his. As soon as they called cut on my scene, they'd go to him. And I would go and prepare my next scene, and they had the cameras ready on me. And so on. It was a crazy day! (Laughs) But the crew were on top of everything!

Did you base the cousins on anyone?
I had just watched No Country For Old Men. I picked up a couple of things from Javier Bardem! I thought that's what would work for the character. I took some of that, and then it was some of my own thing. Life experience stuff. I don't know how to explain it, but you use your own thing, twist it with a little of his stuff and it worked. And Vince Gilligan's input, he told us what he wanted, he was very specific. That dude knew perfectly, like a picture in his head. That dude had a vision!

What are your favourite cousins moments?
Bryan's very serious as a director, but when they call cut, that dude is funny. He gives great input.
Let me see... I think the very first time they're introduced, the exploding truck. That was not a humungous scene, but I loved it because it was a big effort behind the camera. They only had one truck, one set of explosives. We had to do that take in one shot. That's why I'm proud of that one, because we did. And the other thing was Bryan was directing it, so that was special!

What's Bryan like as a director?
I think he was great. He knew what he wanted. He's a pro, man! And he's a funny guy. He's very serious as a director, but when they call cut, that dude is funny. He gives great input.

How do you think it will finish?
I have a big theory. Are you sure you wanna know this, because I'm sure I'm right, even though no-one has told me anything. There is only one way it can end - you're the first one and the only one I'll tell - I think Heisenberg's gonna die. And I think Jesse's gonna kill him. Jesse doesn't know about Mike. And about the poisoned kid. And Jane. All this is gonna add up and somebody's gonna die. I said it! I called it! I'm getting too excited talking about it! I gotta calm down...

What are you up to now?
I was at an audition today, so I hope that works out. I just worked on Southland, and I did The Client List.

You got him into acting and now your brother has a résumé. Do you compete for roles?
Oh, yes. We do go against each other a lot. But Danny's a little shyer than me. You put a camera in front of my face and I'm a camera whore. Danny? He's a little more reserved. He's still going, though. I help him, I help him out a lot, because I figure if we're going up for a role, we might as well keep it in the family!


Empire Breaking Back Interviews THE BREAKING BAD INTERVIEWS
Head back to the interview hub for more exclusive interviews with the cast and makers of Breaking Bad

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