Juan Pablo Di Pace exclusive interview: From DWTS to Fuller House to Wonderful Winter of Oz, DiPace isn’t slowing down

Juan Pablo Di Pace is an ardent supporter of PETA and fights animal cruelty. Pic credit: Juan Pablo Di Pace
Juan Pablo Di Pace is an ardent supporter of PETA and fights animal cruelty. Pic credit: Juan Pablo Di Pace

Your TV is about to get smoking hot! Coming on December 14 is the return of the Netflix hit series Fuller House starring Argentinian born Juan Pablo Di Pace.

However, fans may be still be drooling on his great Beauty and the Beast number on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Juan was partnered with two-time mirror ball champ Cheryl Burke, with whom he narrowly lost the chance to take the win.

Many fans feel Juan and Cheryl were robbed. Pic credit: ABC
Many fans feel Juan and Cheryl were robbed. Pic credit: ABC

Di Pace followed in the footsteps of his Fuller House costars Candace Cameron Bure and Jodie Sweetin, who each had a turn hoofing it up on the long-running dance competition.

Undoubtedly, Di Pace is a physical actor who sings, dances and acts up a storm. Known for his role as Fernando in Fuller House, Di Pace has also appeared on television portraying characters who have a godly bent, including his turn as Jesus on Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s epic TV faith-based effort, A..D. The Bible Continues, a sequel to The Bible.

Di Pace portrays Jesus in A.D. The Bible Continues. Pic credit: NBC
Di Pace portrays Jesus in A.D. The Bible Continues. Pic credit: NBC

Now Di Pace joins Tony Award-winning Marissa Jaret Winokur in Nigel Lythgoe’s production of The Wonderful Winter Of Oz, a holiday family British-style Panto of America’s favorite modern fairy tale.

Directed by Bonnie Lythgoe and choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo (NappyTabs), with book by Kris Lythgoe and musical direction and arrangements by Michael Orland, this event sees Di Pace cast as the Cowardly Lion and begins the very same day as his Netflix series returns, on December 14.

In addition to his work on screen as an actor, Di Pace’s passion for performing extends to his talents as an accomplished singer and songwriter.

Earlier this month, Di Pace released his second single, Just a Feeling described as a “Studio 54, Michael Jackson, Daft Punk and The Bee Gees” inspired cut.  Di Pace will perform the song live when he joins the upcoming national Dancing with the Stars tour, A Night to Remember.

This season on Fuller House, Di Pace will sing Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof.

We spoke to this incredibly talented man who loves animals, perhaps living full-time in Spain and performing live in theatrical productions.

Monsters and Critics:  I know that you’re working with Nigel Lythgoe at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, in The Wonderful Winter of Oz and you’re cast as the Cowardly Lion?

Juan Pablo Di Pace:  Yes. Well, we’ve been rehearsing. It’s so much fun. It’s a family Panto. It’s a British tradition that is for the kids.

The first experience that children have in England is going to a Panto which is basically the telling of a fairy tale like Snow White or The Wizard of Oz or Aladdin and they put contemporary music in there.

It’s slightly interactive so the kids can shout at the bad guy and cheer as much as they want.

So this year they’re doing The Winter of Oz with just the most amazingly talented actors. I get to play the Cowardly Lion which is a fun, fun part. I’m obviously doing it with my own spin.

It’s a joy to be in such a project with such talented people and for the first time in my life, I’m doing something that actually is directed at children.

In a way, you could say Fuller House is that too, but this is specifically so that children can experience live theater at a very, very young age. This is in Pasadena. At the Pasadena Civic and we go from the 14th of December to the 30th of December.

M&C:  Nice, and your show Fuller House is coming back on the 14th too…

Fuller House is back December 14th, a great season according to Di Pace! Pic credit: Netflix
Fuller House is back December 14th, a great season according to Di Pace! Pic credit: Netflix

Juan Pablo:  Exactly.  It’s a big day. The 14th is a big day. Season four is coming out, all episodes, all together, all at once on the 14th. Some people literally wait for the clock to turn 12:00 at night to watch everything.

I bet there’s going to be lots of watching parties. We have some die-hard fans. The Fuller House fans are amazing. It’s all just amazing.

M&C:  They are, and they’re worried about the fifth season. Is there anything you can share with us? Do you know anything about the series continuing?

Juan Pablo:  Yeah, I mean, I can’t really share anything because we don’t know anything. We’ve never known anything. A few weeks, two months after we premiere so they should have nothing to worry about because this is completely normal.

It’s normal that we don’t know anything before we premiere.

Netflix makes their decision after the show is on air. So that’s always been the case since season one. We always get the go ahead maybe a month after or two months after sometimes.

We were very lucky I think in the first season we got a go-ahead like two weeks after. But you know this is how the industry works. The networks have to see how the show is doing and they renew or not but in our case we’ve always been such a fan favorite show.

You know the fans are so vocal. I don’t think they would let it go.

And it’s a great, great season. It’s an amazing season so that also plays into it. It is in the spirit of Full and Fuller House, the comedy and the fantasy of it all, the ridiculousness and the hugs.

It’s a season that deals with things that we haven’t dealt before like surrogacy and one of the kid’s drinks. Which alcohol was never a thing in the Full and Fuller House universe.

And what happens if you drink and this and that. There’s a gay character in the season. We’re going to places that we haven’t gone before which is fun. It’s cool.

M&C:   Who is this new gay character?

Juan Pablo:  Oh, it’s a friend of Ramona’s. He is called Casey. It’s just really fun how their relationship is and what he brings to the table to Ramona.

M&C:   In the meantime, while you’re waiting on the news of a season five you’re just killing it with your music. I love Broken by the way.

Juan Pablo:    Thank you.

M&C:    Talk about your music and how you’re really building that along with all of these incredible roles that you’re being served up.

Juan Pablo:   Well, music’s always been part of my life and I grew up in a very musical family but then when I went to study in England I studied not just acting.

I studied acting, music, and dance actually. So it’s always been part of my life. My first job was Chicago the musical. I’ve sung always. So I’ve always kept it alive and some years ago I started writing my own music and slowly putting out singles and doing it that way.

Yeah, it feels like people are responding and now I’m kind of in the process of putting together a show to maybe take on the road. But in the meantime, I’m going to be singing on the Dancing with the Stars tour as well as dancing.

M&C:   When does that begin?

Juan Pablo:  For me, it begins on the 7th of February.

I believe my first show is in Grand Prairie. I do all of Texas, Tennessee, and Florida with the tour. I’m getting to do everything that I love which is all three, all of the three things that I love dancing, acting and singing.

At heart, I am a musical theater kid. That’s where I started. It’s fun to be able to do that because you don’t always get the chance to perform like that. Also with the tour, for example, we’re going to be in front of thousands of people every single day.

We were rehearsing the show yesterday with Mandy Moore, Mandy Moore who choreographs Dancing with the Stars. She’s making a beautiful show. She choreographed La La Land and just everything she touches is gold. It’s a really slick show. Really, really slick.

M&C:  Will Cheryl Burke be rejoining you on any leg of the tour or for a performance?

Juan Pablo:   We shall see. I don’t know. I mean I know that they’ve been talking but at the moment she’s so kind of … She’s so busy with her wedding and planning her wedding that she wasn’t going to do the whole tour.

She was never going to do the whole tour so we’ll see if she can join me. That will be freaking amazing if she could.

M&C:   Yes, it would be great if you could sing at her wedding.

Juan Pablo:   I know! You put it out there.

M&C: I will. Gosh, you know everyone just loved your Gaston and the Beauty and the Beast dance. That was just so incredible. It would be great if you could recreate that on the floor.

Juan Pablo:    Oh, my god. Yeah. Her in her wedding dress and me in the broaches and everything. The spats. Oh, I loved doing that so much. That was one my favorite moments from that show.  It was so fun.

M&C:   How long were you in England and where did you study? What’s your favorite place to be in the UK?

Juan Pablo: I lived in London for 10 years. I moved to London to pursue this career really. I did a three-year course over there in like a Fame-type school called London Studio Center.

I stayed in London for another seven years after I graduated. Within the city, I lived in 10 different houses because I was very poor. Very poor and very hungry.

So in England, you move around because places tend to like, maybe you have rats in the kitchen or you live in the basement.

Yes, I totally earned my later success in life within those years in London. I suffered like a bastard. So everything that’s happening now, it’s well deserved.

M&C:  Indeed. Tell me about your advert for PETA. What made you hitch your fame wagon to the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals?

Juan Pablo:   Well, they got in touch with me and they talked to me about it. They wanted me to take part in it and maybe because they saw I am a huge lover of animals. I absolutely adore animals especially felines.

I’m a Leo myself so I’m mesmerized by big cats. When they told me it was a campaign with a lion and it was about animal cruelty in the circus I was like absolutely, I’m in. It’s true.

The tradition of circus, when they use animals we don’t really know how they are treated in these situations. They travel. They have to perform. They have to do things that an elephant shouldn’t really be doing or a tiger shouldn’t really be in a cage like that.

So I thought it was important to talk about it and help in any way I could with the cause.

M&C:  I know in South America a lot of the circuses are being closed or they’re being more humane anyway in the way that they’re treating the animals.

Juan Pablo:   Totally, and you know just like the Panto now which is theater and we’re all actors pretending to be animals and whatever. People can totally go and see wonderful shows that are a circus without animals.

I went to see one in Barcelona which was an all people circus. They had the clowns and the tumblers and the music and the dancing. You know, Cirque du Soleil for example, that’s a circus and it’s all gymnasts.

It’s just switching your mind to what really should be allowed. I mean, it’s like going to a zoo. There are zoos that are not really humane either, keeping these massive animals in tiny places just for you to walk around and just like, “Oh, look.”

M&C:   You’re such a child of the world. You’re from Argentina but you’re of Italian descent. You live in America. You lived in London. You’ve been performed in Italy, you’ve been in Spain performing. Where is home? And where do you love to be?

Juan Pablo:   Where’s home. Well, home really … That’s funny. I don’t know. I have no idea. I think home right now is Los Angeles because I’ve been here for five years.

Usually home is a place that I’m in at the time. Of course, I visit my family a lot in Spain. My parents and my siblings live between Spain and the UK. So I tend to go there three to four times a year just to be with them and to be with my friends in Spain.

I would say maybe Spain is the place that I always go back to even though I don’t live there because I used to live in Spain before I moved here. I was there for four years. Sorry, there is more places that I lived in. I also lived in Italy and Spain. But yes, Spain probably is the place where I call my heart home.

M&C: So you’re able to perform in three languages. You’ve got Roma Downey and Mark Burnett as fans. Are you going to be doing anything else with them and their production companies?

Juan Pablo:   Well, I mean I would love to. She [Roma Downey] certainly would love to too. We’ve had conversations about it and we had such an amazing time doing A.D. The Bible Continues and it was very close to her heart. It was very close to my heart.

The project was just so beautifully made and it was kind of cut short because actually, a show like that should continue. So we are, we always talk about working together again because we really have become super, super close.

We see each other a lot. She came to support me in Dancing with the Stars and she’s just such a good, good human being. You imagine what she would be like and she is kinder than that. She really is wonderful. So I would love to just always be working with Roma Downey because she’s like the best producer I’ve ever met.

Fuller House returns to Netflix on December 14, 2018.

The Wonderful Winter of Oz is at the Pasadena Civic Dec 14-30.

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