Fernando Carsa Discusses Making His Feature Film Debut in Paramount+’s At Midnight
Feb 8, 2023
It would be an understatement to say that 2023 has been off to a great start for Fernando Carsa. Just last week, the actor took to Twitter to announce the Season 3 renewal of his hit AppleTV+ show, Acapulco, in which he plays the scene-stealing Memo. This was expected, of course, especially considering its critically acclaimed second season, which aired in late-2022. Acapulco, in fact, marked Carsa’s television debut, a role that came not even a year after his graduation from UCLA. And now, he will be making his feature film debut in Paramount+’s upcoming rom-com At Midnight.
“It was a really, really special project, both professionally and personally,” Carsa said in our Zoom interview ahead of At Midnight’s release. Citing The Wedding Planner as a personal favorite, he revealed his love for the romantic comedy genre, particularly for the way they “give you hope [and] make you feel good.” However, what excited Carsa most about getting to work on At Midnight was the company involved, specifically Diego Boneta. “I got to see his whole career unfold right in front of my eyes. I’m from Mexico, he’s from Mexico, so I’ve always looked up to him, and I’ve always been a fan.”
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Directed by Jonah Feingold, who co-wrote the script with Maria Hinojos and Giovanni M. Porta, At Midnight follows Mexico hotel manager Alejandro (Boneta) and his fated encounter with Hollywood star Sophie (Top Gun: Maverick’s Monica Barbaro), who’s in town to shoot her latest superhero movie. Both have a lot at stake: Alejandro wants to open up a boutique hotel, while Sophie is hoping her new film will launch a spin-off franchise for her character, so staying focused and professional is absolutely paramount. However, when Sophie catches her boyfriend — and co-star — Adam (Anders Holm) cheating on her, and she finds herself sucked into Alejandro’s orbit (and charm), neither she nor Alejandro can seem to resist the other.
On Finding the Confidence to Play Tachi
In At Midnight, Carsa plays Tachi, Alejandro’s queer, exuberant, and all-around supportive best friend, who checks all the boxes of the traditional rom-com sidekick while offering heretofore uncharted nuance and dynamic. Considering how commanding Carsa’s presence is in the film, it was surprising to hear that he had initial doubts about his ability to play Tachi. “Tachi has this really seductive slash confident energy that I just lacked in my real life,” he said with a laugh. “So, at first, I was really scared, and then when I heard that they were actually interested in me for the part, I was [surprised].”
What put Carsa at ease was his earliest conversations with Feingold, during which they bonded over their shared interest in musical theater, Broadway shows, and, naturally, romantic comedies. This essentially inspired Carsa to tackle the role with gusto. As it turned out, he and Tachi weren’t too different from each other. “[He] is probably the character that has, in some ways, felt the closest to me as a gay man. This is the first time I’ve gotten to play a character for something so big, so in that sense, it felt really close to me.”
Related: Best Movies Coming to Paramount+ in February 2023
Finding the confidence to pull off Tachi’s flirty personality and to wear, as Carsa put, “the Bad Bunny-esque, really out-there clothes,” ended up being a wholly emotional experience for the actor. “What Jonah said he liked so much about me is the fact that I tapped into my characters’ emotional depth, which actually meant a lot to me because, as a plus-size gay man, who’s also an immigrant, a person of color, and a Latino, being able to put my characters in the spotlight is really important.”
On Set with Diego Boneta
One of the most fascinating elements of At Midnight — a small detail that doesn’t call attention to itself, but is very much present — is Alejandro and Tachi’s friendship. Within the realm of mainstream comedies, you’d be hard-pressed to find an unquestionably pure friendship between a straight man and a gay man displayed on-screen, where the latter isn’t an afterthought at best or the butt of the straight man’s jokes at worst. Here, however, Tachi and Alejandro’s dynamic is refreshing, and the way Carsa and Boneta play off each other is a joy to watch.
Related: 13 Actors We’d Love to See Lead a Rom-Com
“First of all, he was incredible,” Carsa said of Boneta. Considering Boneta is a sort of industry idol to him, Carsa revealed he did experience initial nerves upon meeting and sharing scenes with him, but they quickly disappeared as a result of Boneta’s commitment to their building a connection as actors. Between being invited to dine with Boneta’s family and Boneta’s work ethic off-screen (going over scenes and rehearsing together), the pair formed a solid relationship foundation for their characters. “He really made sure that we were able to build something before we actually stepped on set. It was initially hard to start a conversation because I was so amazed about the fact that I was working with him, but he — and his family — was so caring and warm towards me.”
Before we end our conversation, the topic of a spinoff following Tachi’s own romantic journey comes up (which, once you see the film, you’ll know why). Carsa doesn’t think it will happen, but, channeling the same openness with which he tackled At Midnight, he said, “Why not?”
At Midnight premieres exclusively on Paramount+ on February 10.
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