USA network is the channel that touts “characters are welcome,” and their series, “In Plain Sight,” shines with a colorful cast that has a collective chemistry; it’s addictive to watch.
“In Plain Sight” is a crime drama starring Mary McCormack as Mary Shannon, a U.S. Marshal attached to the highly secretive Federal Witness Protection Program (WITSEC).
Hiding in plain sight is an art that Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) does as a Marshal for the Witness Protection Program.
She loves her job and balances two families. Her real family, who she works hard to conceal the truth from, and her work family, where she manages a case load of dubious and unlucky characters.
Shannon does this in the greater Albuquerque/Santa Fe area, as she protects and manages relocated Federal Witnesses who come from all over the country.
Career mobsters, sociopaths, thieves and murderers to those who have had the misfortune of witnessing or falling victim to a crime are dealt with. For the innocent ones, testifying means leaving behind everything and everyone they know, cutting off all contact, changing identities and relocating to save their necks: Out there “someone” wants them dead.
Partner Marshall Mann (Fred Weller) could not be more Mary’s opposite, yet as opposites go, they combine to make a great team with a nice spark of chemistry.
Also joining the cast is Mary’s co-dependant mother, Jinx (Lesley Ann Warren) and equally problematic sister Brandi (Nichole Hiltz), are living under her roof. Both are a handful for Mary.
Mary’s lover Raphael Ramirez (Cristián de la Fuente) vies with Marshall (Fred) and even detective Bobby D (Todd) in capturing and leeping the affections of Mary.
Cristián plays the role of Raphael with great flourish and sex appeal.
“In Plain Sight” will premiere an all new season Tonight, Sunday, April 19th at 10:00/9:00 Central.
Monsters and Critics once again caught up with Cristián.
Does Raphael still challenge you this season?
C. de la Fuente The first thing that challenged me was playing baseball. I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile where the biggest sport is soccer. We don’t play baseball here. I think baseball stops in Venezuela, that’s the farthest you go by playing baseball. And also working with a great cast is always challenging, because you have to really give your 180%, but mainly the baseball part. The rest at the beginning was scary, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to work with Lesley Ann Warren and Mary McCormack,” but then when I got to meet them then that was the best part of the job, not the hardest one.
Why do you think people continue to watch the show?
C. de la Fuente First, I don’t think there’s a lot of female driven shows and in this case In Plain Sight follows the life and work of Mary McCormack’s character, Mary.
And on the other hand, I think what’s very unique about this show, we have a lot of cop shows, law shows, Law and Order, or all the CSI’s, but they all tell one crime or they all investigate one crime or one suspect or they have one story.
In this case, Mary has to protect the witness every week, but she also has a personal life. She has to deal with her mother, with her sister. She has to deal with her boyfriend. So there’s a lot of the personal life of Mary that we see and I think that’s unique. That really makes a difference in the show.
How did you come to this part?
C. de la Fuente I auditioned for it and my agent sent me the script and I read it and I loved it, but Raphael was first written as Devin and was supposed to be an American. And I called my agent and I said, “You know, I love this role. Can you call them and see if they could see me, because you know I think I can play this role.”
Besides nowadays if you look at all the baseball players, probably 70% of them have Latino names, so then it’s not a big stretch to go from Raphael Ramirez to Latino. But I said, like maybe let’s try to give it a shot, and then I got this job and then they changed it from Devin to Raphael, because it had to be more believable than me named Devin, I don’t think it would have worked.
What do you like most about your character?
C. de la Fuente Raphael, I think goes against all the stereotypes. It’s like he’s not the typical Latin lover. He’s not the typical Latino. As a joke always I think we’ve made history in television and film, because on the last episode of the first season, on the season finale, I think it’s the first time that you see a Latino character with a lot of kilograms of drugs and instead of starting dealing them, he threw them away. I think that’s the first time that’s happened in TV, that Latinos are not portrayed as drug dealers but people that you know they have good hearts and they want the best for their family and their loved ones. And I think that’s the beauty about Raphael, he’s really in love with Mary and he’s a nice guy and I think he’s going to do always the right thing and it’s great to play those kinds of roles nowadays.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when you play the character?
C. de la Fuente Well I try to draw the inspiration the way I would like to be. I think how would I like to be if I was like the perfect guy? And the perfect version of me, that’s Raphael.
What should fans be expecting to see in store for your character this season? Are there any big surprises?
C. de la Fuente Yes, there are big surprises. Let me see, how can I say it without ruining it? There’s going to be a change in my career. I can say that. I’m going to get closer to, however, changing my marital status.
So those are the two biggest surprises.
Where are you hoping to see Mary and Raphael’s relationship go?
C. de la Fuente Mary’s very hard to deal with, Mary the character, because Mary McCormack, I love her.
I also love the other one in different ways, but Raph would like to marry her and have a family, but it’s tough. Mary is hard to get and she’s a little bit afraid of commitment. In the ideal world, which doesn’t exist, not even in fiction, Raphael would like to marry her and have children and be happy. But he’s going to try to do everything in his power and hopefully Mary’s going to try to do something too.
What is the cast dynamic like on In Plain Sight?
C. de la Fuente I’m going to answer you the truth, which is that we all get along very well and we have a great relationship with each other, and even though that didn’t happen, I would never say it. But in this case, I’m saying the truth, I’m not lying. Sometimes you don’t get along and you still have to lie and say, “We really get along,” but I’m happy to say that on this occasion it’s true that we all get along very well and we act together.
Of course, you have a better relationship with those that you work more often, with Nichole Hiltz with Lesley Ann Warren and with Mary. I’m not involved in all the cop scenes with Fred Weller or with Paul Ben-Victor.
I don’t get to do a lot of scenes, but sometimes we go out to dinner and sometimes we go on the same plane back and forth from LA, especially with Paul, so we all have a great relationship. And that’s good, because I spend more time sometimes with them than with my family.
If you could work with any actor, if you guys could have any guest on the show, who would you have?
C. de la Fuente I would love to have Al Pacino, but I don’t think he would go to our show. I’m going to apply to see if I can serve him coffee on the set of his movie. Maybe that will work.
How did you get started in acting?
C. de la Fuente I got started 17 years ago in Chile where I am right now, thanks to the technology, I’m having this conference from Chile. I’ve always wanted to be an actor and my dad wanted me to be a civil engineer because actors don’t make money here in Chile.
They don’t ride in limousines and live in big mansions. Actors here, we live in normal houses and sometimes there are actors that have to ride the bus, because they don’t have a car. You do this because you love it. It’s not, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to get to make $20 million a picture.” So my dad was really afraid of me being an actor.
But then I got to a point that I decided why am I going to be an engineer if that’s not what I really love to do, and that’s when I decided to go to a network and apply for a job doing a show and I was part of the show. And then after that they offered me the option of studying all the afternoons while I was working in the mornings to start studying acting and I did that and that was how it really started.
Would you ever be interested in writing or directing for In Plain Sight?
C. de la Fuente Yes, I’ve written some stuff and I love to write. I have to get better at that and I think it’s a process. But the only way I think to learn is just to write and write and write and maybe in a couple years I’m going to come to something that is better than what I’ve written before.
But it’s a process and the only way to do it is to start it at some point. The first thing that I wrote wasn’t good. The second was a little bit better, and now I’m getting, not that I’m great, but I’m getting better and better every day. And even if I write a book that my daughter is going to read, I’ll be happy. But yes, I would love to write. I would love to express in other ways than just acting.
Do you ever get to offer input on your character?
C. de la Fuente We do a meeting before the season, we meet with all the writers, and there are a lot of things about myself that are in character. And one of the things that I really appreciate and I’m very thankful from the show, and especially for David Maples, the creator, is that in many jobs that I’ve done, they always say, “Okay, you have to take care of your accent,” and I can work on it. I can go to an accent coach and speak more Mexican or speak less Mexican or speak normal or try to even do a neutral.
In this case, In Plain Sight, David was like, “No, you can embrace your accent.” And even there are some episodes that other characters like especially Brandi played by Nichole Hiltz, she makes fun of my accent and she doesn’t understand some of the things that I’m trying to say. And besides that that I was able to embrace that and to let it go and be more natural instead of trying to hide it, that’s something that I really appreciate from the show and from David especially.
What has been your favorite scene to film so far, either past or future that we haven’t seen yet?
C. de la Fuente Well from the first season, there was this scene in the last episode when I go to Mary’s house and I’m drunk and I’m trying to convince her to have a better relationship with her sister, with Brandi. That scene I think especially was challenging, because to play drunk is tough and not going through a cliché of really being drunk and playing the drunk and also it was very emotional.
And on this season there was a very beautiful scene in one of the episodes towards the middle of the season where I proposed again and where I explain to Mary why I want to marry her and why I feel the way I feel towards her. I think that was really nice, mostly like the scenes when the character is vulnerable, I think those are beautiful scenes that you can really open yourself and do a better job.
Do you think though that marrying Mary would be good for Raphael?
C. de la Fuente Yes, I don’t know what’s really going happen in the future, because one of the things that David likes to do is like to keep the show like real life.
We kind of have an idea what’s going to happen tomorrow, but we really don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and the same thing happens in the show. We kind of have an idea what’s going to happen in the next episode, but we have no idea to really what’s going to happen. I think Raphael really wants to marry Mary, but in order for that to happen Mary would have to change, and I don’t think she’s really willing to do it.
Because many times in relationships, and that has happened to me myself in personal life, we fall in love with somebody and there are things we don’t like about that person and hope that they’re going to change at sometime and it never happens …and then at the end of the day is the reason why you end up breaking up with them. So I learned that the things that you don’t like about somebody, they have to really be so little that you’re willing to live the rest of your life with them.
That’s what needs to happen. At this moment, the things that really bother Raphael about Mary are not that big and at the end of the day he knows that she’s this beautiful, sensitive woman under that tough uniform and the tough job and the tough personality. So if she allows to be loved, then I think they can be really happy.
How did Raphael get the drugs at the end of last season?
C. de la Fuente: He takes a bag when he’s in his house with Brandi and Brandi has a bag with the drugs and then Raphael switches the drugs.
Raphael switches the drugs and he put towels inside the bag and then he puts the drugs inside his bag and he … and then Raphael’s leaving the house, and Brandi says, “Can I help you with the bag?” and he says, “No, no, no don’t worry, I’ll keep it,” because he has the drugs.
It took a lot of guts to go and to talk to Mary like that, but he was drunk.
Where does Raphael fit in to her family?
C. de la Fuente I think as you said, she has a very dysfunctional family with her mother and her sister. She has the other substitute family with the father figure and the brother figure.
I think Raphael is the family that she needs. She needs a husband and then she needs to start a whole family again. Because once you marry and you have kids, that becomes your family and then the rest are relatives.
When you’re single and you’re living with your mom, that’s your family. But once you get married, you have a new family and the other one becomes relatives.
What is the difference between the first and the second season, either with the show on the whole or just in your character and your relationship with Mary?
C. de la Fuente Well with my character, he’s going to switch his career. He’s going to start working with something different, and in the relationship with Mary we’ll get to a point that Mary’s going to have to decide that if she wants to get married with Raphael or not. So I think those are two big changes that is going to happen to Raphael in the relationship and to Mary also.
Are you still filming the second season or are you done?
C. de la Fuente No, we’re not done yet. We have three episodes left still.
So I cannot say what’s my favorite from the second season, because there’s one that I really loved is when I go and propose again.
But maybe there’s one coming that I haven’t shot yet. And from the first season I think the last episode when Raphael goes drunk and talks to Mary, I think that was a very beautiful and nice scene between the two characters.
You mentioned that your father didn’t really want you to go into acting. Did he ever turn around and become proud of you?
C. de la Fuente I think one of the biggest compliments that I had from my father was the day that he died. He was in his bed, he was sick and they asked him, “Do you want me to turn the TV off?” And he said, “No, I want to watch Cristián and then I want to fall asleep.”
So he watched my show, then he turned off the TV and he passed away. So I think that at the end of the day was the biggest compliment that I can have from my father.
What would you advise for somebody who wanted to go into acting as a young actor?
C. de la Fuente I would give them two, as a friend of mine says, life is too short and then you die. So you have to do everything that you want even if people tell you that you’re crazy, that that’s not for you, that it’s hard, or all the bad things that they can tell you, you just have to do it.
And then the second advice is, you need a lot of patience. You need a lot of patience, because there’s a lot of things and a lot of times that doors are going to be closed, that people are going to say, no, and you just have to keep believing in you, believing your dream, and just keep going. Keep going, keep going, because one day you’re going to make it.
Maybe you’re not going to make it huge, big, maybe you’re not going to be the star of a big action movie, maybe you’re going to do a play in a theatre, maybe you’re going to do a local TV show, maybe you’re going to do a national TV show, but you’re going to do it, and that satisfaction of having a dream and really being able to accomplish it that’s priceless.
Are there any special guest stars booking up this season we can look forward to seeing?
C. de la Fuente Yes. I don’t have the complete names and lists of the guest stars, because most of the guest stars, they always come on the side of the witness that is being protected and I don’t get the privilege of working with them. But I can guarantee that there’s going to be some big names and big people guest starring. We’re doing 16 episodes and we have kind of like more than half like kind of 10 big names that are going to be guest starring on the show.
So be prepared for a lot of big actors.
Do you feel that keeping a bit of humor in the show kind of breaks up tensions between some of these relationships that we see?
C. de la Fuente Yes, I think we don’t live in a black and white world. It’s like we live in a world when even the most dramatic moment again on the days they’re funny. When you see an old lady that falls on the street, sometimes you start laughing. It’s funny, but it’s a drama for her, and it’s funny for you.
So at the end of the day even drama or sometimes in my life I’ve been in problems and I’m trying to make things work and then at the end of the day I just laugh, because there’s only so much we can do. So I love when drama has that bit of humor and comedy, because that’s life. Life is not all drama or all comedy. It’s a mix of both. Sometimes more from one than the other, but at the end of the day it’s a mix of both.
Can you kind of give us a run through of a typical day on the set?
C. de la Fuente A typical day on the set for me … is landing the day before from LA, because I’m still living in LA. So the day before I have to work I have to travel. That means going through the airport, which it used to be nice. Now they assume that everybody’s a criminal or a terrorist, so they ask you to take your shoes off, take your everything, and it’s like that’s kind of the bad part of it.
Then finally I land, I arrive in Albuquerque, and then the day starts with breakfast, very early, around 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning; then we rehearse the scene with the director and with the crew; then we go for makeup and hair, which for me takes five minutes, thank God, where the girls will take a little longer.
And then we go back and we shoot the scene. We do that for six hours; then we break for lunch, and then we do it for six more hours again. Sometimes it’s six, sometimes it’s seven or eight or even nine more hours, which after six we have a snack, which is called second meal for people to eat.
And then we finish the day. Then we go rest. We have a 10 to 11 hour turnaround where we can rest and sleep, and then the next day, we start again in the morning and then we try to shoot all the scenes, and then when I’m done after three or four days, I get on a plane and I go back to LA to see my family. And then Mary stays in Albuquerque, because I think she’s in 99% of all the scenes. She has to do that for seven days straight. I do it only for three or four.
What would be your ultimate dream role?
C. de la Fuente I’ve always wanted to do like a modern version of I Love Lucy. What would happen today if a guy like Raphael married an American? How would they live and all the issues that they have to deal with? I think that would be a nice role to play.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
C. de la Fuente Not yet. My biggest project after the show is done is vacation with my wife and my daughter, try to spend some time with them, because thank God, I’ve been working a lot, and then start looking for the next one. Try to see if we can squeeze in a movie or two and keep our fingers crossed and hopefully have a third season of In Plain Sight, but that depends on the viewers. So hopefully, they’ll watch the show, they will like it and then we’ll have a third season.
You were a firefighter, in the Air Force and part of an Aerial Acrobatic Troop?
C. de la Fuente: I think I have a thing for uniforms, as you can see. The firefighters, yes, I used to be a firefighter and then I had to quit, because I moved from Chile and then if they call me for a fire, the time that it gets me to go from LA to Chile, the fire will be already burned.
In the aerobatic team, I help them with all the public relationships, with all the PR, because every time they have a presentation and I can, I try to fly with them. I’m trying to do all my best to, they’re going to an aerial show in Texas in May and I’m trying to see if I can meet with them and be there.
When we do it like while the guys fly, I’m on the ground explaining everything through speakers. I’m in the tower and I’m talking to the people and everybody explaining to them what they’re doing, all the maneuvers that they’re doing and how they’re done and the history and a little bit of the background about the aerobatic team. And then I get to fly with them once in awhile and train and be able to do some aerobatics on my own, but I just fly on my own.
They fly in formation, which is very dangerous and they have to … work and train every day. That’s why I don’t fly at the presentation, because I would have to do it 24/7 and be my main job. But mainly I help them with the public relationships and I get also to fly, but by myself.
“In Plain Sight,” premiering Sunday, April 19th at 10:00/9:00 Central on USA Network.