'Exorcist' star Alfonso Herrera talks show's new season, potential RBD reunion and THAT plot twist
A lot of TV viewers discovered Alfonso Herrera in "The Exorcist," in which the charismatic actor stars as a tortured young priest doing battle with demonic forces.
The deliciously nightmarish Fox show, which comes back for a second season on Sept. 29, is hardly Herrera's first brush with fame. The Mexican actor recently wrapped two seasons of "Sense8" for Netflix. Among Spanish-speaking audiences, he became a huge star thanks to his years in RBD, a teen-pop group that was launched via a telenovela in 2004 and split in 2009.
Friendly and focused, Herrera called during a break in filming in Vancouver to plug the new season of "The Exorcist," which moves the action from Chicago to Washington state and brings in several new cast members, including John Cho. Herrera talks about the show's mind-blowing plot twist that stunned first-season viewers, plus his friendship with co-star Ben Daniels and his music career.
Question: It took Fox a long time to announce the show was coming back. Were you nervous?
Answer: For us, it felt like everything happened so fast. We found out in May and quickly we had to go to Vancouver to film. It made us wake up and start working very, very fast. It was good news not just for the actors, but for everybody involved.
Q: The show has a passionate following.
A: I think horror fans are very loyal. Specifically, if they really like a show or comic book or movie, they are going to be super loyal. If they don’t like it, they are going to do the opposite. I think that’s why we were able to connect with them. There’s this very interesting communication between us, so maybe that’s why we are talking about the second season!
Q: Father Tomas is a great character. What drew you to him?
A: The complexity of it. He has lots of layers. Also, there was the possibility of a Latino character, specifically a Mexican character, that has nothing to do with niche or stereotype. I was very attracted to that. When I read the pilot, it was so well-written and so grounded. Every single character had a three-dimensional background. Every single character, not just Tomas, had potential.
Q: One of the big draws is the chemistry between you and Ben Daniels. Was that there from the beginning?
A: I think both of us — not just the characters, but us as actors — come from very different backgrounds. That contrast makes it interesting. You see these two people colliding, two people with completely different universes finding similarities and trying to work out their differences. I’m talking about Tomas and Marcus, by the way!
Q: And what about you and Ben in real life?
A: It’s something that just occurred. We both have lots of fun while we’re shooting. Even though a scene can be dense and obscure, every time they say cut we laugh and have fun. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, and that’s a cool thing.
Q: On Twitter, he said he was going to learn Spanish for you if the show was renewed.
A: He’s learning! He’s a very fast learner.
WARNING: Spoiler alert for season one below.
Q: The first season has one of the all-time great plot twists, when viewers learn that the character of Angela Rance is actually Regan from the film. When did you learn about that?
A: I arrived in Chicago when we were going to shoot the pilot. (Executive producer) Rupert Wyatt was in the room with Geena Davis, and they were talking about her hair: "What color hair should Angela have?" They were discussing it because of the connection she was going to have to Regan MacNeil. That's when I met Geena. It was like this tiny conversation, and they were figuring out these subtle connections to the original "Exorcist." I wasn't quite sure what was going on, but it was there in the beginning.
Q: You mention Geena. You, Ben and Kurt Egyiawan are the only actors to return from season one, and the show moves to a new location. Is it like starting all over again?
A: It’s a completely new atmosphere, a new geographical area, new actors. I find it very interesting. It’s like they're integrating Father Tomas and Marcus from the first season into this new world. It makes it very rich and complex.
Q: What is Tomas going to face this season?
Q: He says goodbye to his comfort zone, his family, his congregation, and he enters this life of trying to become an exorcist side by side with Marcus. I see him as this rookie that wants to practice all his abilities. He has lots of potential, and he needs to control that. There’s going to be some friction with Marcus — it’s going to be an interesting season.
Q: Are you Catholic?
A: All Mexicans, we come from a strong background of Catholicism. I don’t practice religion anymore, but my family is Catholic.
A: So does that figure into how you play Tomas?
A: Even though I don’t practice that religion, I do think it adds a complexity and more richness to the story. Latin-American cultures from Mexico all the way to Argentina have such a strong connection with Catholicism. I think every single Latin-American can connect to that, because there's such a strong bond to that religion.
Q: You're so famous in the Latin-American community and getting more famous with non-Spanish speakers. Is that a goal?
A: From my point of view, it’s about working. It’s about finding interesting stories to tell, interesting characters to play. If that involves going north, well, then, I’m open. I want to find stories and characters that can make me step out of my comfort zone, and that’s why I’m very happy to be part of this show.
Q: Different subject: Will we ever see an RBD reunion?
A: (Laughing) It was a very nice era. How can I say this… It was a very nice process, and we all enjoyed that process. We traveled all over the world during that period, that era — but that period is over. Each and every single member is doing interesting stuff, so that is something very good. But a reunion? (chuckling) No, I don’t think so.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or 602-444-8849. Twitter.com/randy_cordova
Season two premieres 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, on Channel 10 (KSAZ).