Yul Vazquez, a skilled and multi-talented actor, is seen performing in broadway plays, television series, and classic movies. The accomplished actor continuously surprises the entertainment business with his ability to do it all. His talents never fail him in taking on vastly diverse roles such as the upcoming knockout Stephen King’s The Outsider, along with the Netflix hit series Russian Doll. Vazquez gives us the inside scoop about the versatility of his acting career, along with his plausible creativity in photography and music.
Siena Severino: So first off your Netflix series, Russian Doll, is packed with a multitude of exciting twists and turns! I actually just finished the series last night. It was so much fun to watch! I would like to know more about the role you play and how you got it. So if you could tell me a little bit about that...
Yul Vazquez: Yea, you know I have known Natasha for a while and we have always talked about doing something together. You know nothing really sort of appeared, and she called me one day and said, “I have this show.” And she sent me the pilot, and I thought this is really cool. I was in the middle of shooting when she called me, and this character was such a polar opposite human being of “I am the Night.” I was looking for something like that where I could show that side of me I don’t get a chance often to do and I thought this was really great. I love Leslye Headland and the whole party involved, and this is really cool that it’s in New York. It just seemed like one of those things that lined up, the planets aligned.
Siena: Yes, and I feel like definitely the concept of the show is so great and out of the ordinary, and you don’t get to see that a lot. It would be a hard decision to pass on an offer like this.
Yul: The concept of the show is really something.
Siena: I fell in love with it. Are you surprised at the series’ success?
Yul: Well no, you hope for the best obviously, but you never know how something is going to turn out. This just turned out the right way. I wish we could predict those things! It was really sweet in a lot of ways particularly, because this was Natasha’s baby. She created it and she was so invested in it, and had a lot of writing on it. So to see it take off like that for her is really, really cool. It hit the air and no one really knew what it was going to do.It just took off and people really responded to it I think because it’s its own thing.
Siena: With Russian Doll, what is your relationship with your cast?
Yul: It was really good. Natasha and I already knew each other, so that was easy. The thing that we didn’t foresee was the chemistry that we had, and it just clicked. I think they just capitalized on that, but the relationship with the cast was great. Everyone was really cool. Rebecca Henderson is just amazing and is my new buddy. Leslye Headland is incredible and so is working with her.
Siena: Another newer project that I know you’ve been working on is The Outsider with Jason Bateman. How has that experience been for you?
Yul: So far, I hate to jinx it but it’s just so good. Ben Mendelsohn is, as you know, outstanding. Jason is amazing, Julianne Nicholson and Bill Camp, is just an amazing group and cast. It has just been really incredible. It is superb. Jason sets a beautiful tone on set, he is such a cool guy. He is a great captain on this, marvelous captain, such a total pro. You know he’s one of those guys, who you would follow onto the plane, he’s that cool.
Siena: Definitely. I watched the Ozarks and absolutely loved him in that. So how did this role come to you?
Yul: Well, I made a tape, and auditioned for it. They asked for a tape and I thought this one was really amazing and wanted to compete for this one. Jason then asked to FaceTime me, and that was how it started.
Siena: That’s very exciting and a great opportunity. You also were just nominated for a Tony in the Broadway production of “The Motherf*cker With The Hat,” for your role 'Cousin Julio.’ How does it make you feel about the nomination?
Yul: You know it was one of those shows that was never supposed to be on Broadway, it was designed as an off broadway show because of the title. But it was a pleasant and beautiful surprise. I am really proud of that show, that part, and everyone in it. I have had a long relationship with Stephen Geragos, the writer. And most of the cast I have known for a long time, then Chris Rock and I became friends. Getting a Tony nomination, what can I say, it doesn’t suck!
Siena: Yes it is a major accomplishment.
Yul: Honestly the best thing about [to nomination] is people can take so many things away from you, but they can’t take this away from me! I mean I’m a Tony nominee, you know, I’m in the history books!
Siena: Yes, for sure. Has that nominee influenced your career in any way?
Yul: It changed my career a lot, yes. It was a defining moment where things were starting to turn. You know what I mean? You will never forget those things when you’re just grateful for them. I’m trying to stay grateful for everything.
Siena: Now, going back, when did you first think you wanted to act, or has it always been what you wanted to do?
Yul: Well, I never set out to be an actor. My mother was an actress in Cuba, and when I was a little kid they would throw me in plays because there weren’t any other kids. But what I really wanted to do was be a rockstar, but then acting came back into my life, and I had always loved acting because I was surrounded by it. My grandmother worked at the box office for a movie theatre for 31 years, and it was just amazing. It’s one of those things that rotates you a certain way. It is something that I wanted to do and felt ready at the time. I wish I could tell you I was set out to be an actor, [laughs].
Siena: Everyone has their own story of getting to where they are.
Yul: Yea, you know I wanted to be the guitar player in Led Zeppelin.
Siena: Oh my gosh. That is my brother’s dream! He plays guitar, drums, and sings.
Yul: That’s so cool, yea like now I hang out with musicians now because a lot of my friends are in these big bands.
Siena: Do you play guitar with them?
Yul: I play all the time but not with anyone! There’s a video of me doing this acoustic thing in New York. I’m a giant ball of ideas; I also paint and I do photography. I mean, I do a lot. It’s fun, I have a website, yulvazquez.com and I show my paintings and photography.
Siena: Who, this can be a musician or actor, have you always wanted to work with.
Yul: I would like to work with Jimmy Paige. Or Yorgos Lanthimos, a director who I have been following, way before he directed The Favourite. Watch his early stuff, he is just incredible. I would like to work with Michael Heneghan, I think he is brilliant. I mean there’s a lot of people. I mean Ben Mendelsohn is someone who I am working with now who I have always wanted to work with. It’s about as good as it gets right there. I have been very fortunate. I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, but if it ended tomorrow, I think it’s been pretty good.
Siena: I think not a lot of people have accomplished the goals you’ve achieved as an actor.
Yul: Well you know thank you, there’s a tremendous amount of hardwork and pain that goes into this artistic endeavour. We have to suffer.
Siena: Yes, you have to work hard and be crushed a few times.You have to be willing.
Yul: To make this advice clear, what I would tell a young artist is to look at other careers that they love and respect. Not because the person has made a ton of money, but because they respect the artistry and work. Have that as your focus and target, and go for that. Your going to get pushed this way and that way, hold that North Star and say “I’m headed there.” It provides you with a visual, and if you clearly see it in your head, where you’re going, that’s a big deal. You know, that will take you far and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Just keep going.