Born and raised in a small town in Satélite, Mexico actor Daniel DelHoyo was born with a distinct flavor of comedy that made him standout even in his earliest years. While he was never one to shy away from the spotlight when it came to making people laugh, it wasn’t until his teenage years that he discovered performing was his destined career path.
Since coming to the realization that acting and creating stories for film and theatre is the one thing that makes him feel alive, purposeful and deeply connected to his soul, Daniel, who’s landed leading roles in several major international productions over the last few years, has had the rare opportunity to display his innate gift to audiences around the world.
At 6’3″ with brown hair, brown eyes and an athletic build, DelHoyo’s ethnically ambiguous look has given him the unique capacity to believably portray characters from practically anywhere in the world. In 2014 he took on the pivotal role of Danny in Alfredo Ibarra’s horror film “Obsidian,” which was produced by Blank Films and premiered at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival. DelHoyo clearly nailed the mark with his performance in the film leading director Alfredo Ibarra, who is known for his work as the director of the films “Processing,” “Baby Talk,” “Classroom 6” as well as music videos for Prince Royce, Gloria Trevi and BPM, to ask him to audition for a role in the upcoming feature film “Por Sofia.” DelHoyo went on to land the role and earlier this year he wrapped production on “Por Sofia,” which is slated to screen in the New Year.
Prior to shooting “Por Sofia” though, DelHoyo landed another leading role in Robert Girault’s (“El Estudiante”) quirky drama feature film “Ilusiones SA,” which premiered in Mexico to national acclaim earlier this year and is slated to open in theatres in the U.S. in 2016. In the film, which received four stars from leading Mexican film magazine, Cine Premiere, DelHoyo had the opportunity to act alongside multi-award winning actor Jamie Camil who is widely known for his role as Rogelio De La Vega in the Golden Globe Award winning series “Jane the Virgin.” If DelHoyo’s name was only known in small circles prior to “Ilusiones SA,” his reputation as an extraordinary actor has definitely extended into the peripherals of the general public with the film’s release.
Audiences can also see him featured in the music video for the hit single ‘Satisfaction’ by Sonus, a three-piece band of bilingual brothers who have gained international attention over the last few years being called the ‘Latin One Direction’ by many and named as one of ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ alongside FKA Twigs and Andrea McClurkin-Mellini by Billboard in 2014.
To find out more about this dazzling Mexican actor, make sure to check out our interview below, and keep your eyes peeled for the U.S. release of “Ilusiones SA.”
Can you tell us a little bit about how you started the journey towards becoming an actor?
DDH: I was failing in school, like hardcore failing, during my sophomore year in high school. There was a certain number of credits you had a chance to fail and I was right on the verge of failing the school year and the only way of preventing that happening was by passing art class which I was almost failing as well. I realized that I was going to get extra points in class and other signatures as well if I voluntarily wrote a play. I knew nothing about theater but went for it, and as soon as I started writing the story I felt connected and fully plugged into this world like I had never felt with anything else. I put a lot of effort into it and co-directed and acted in it as well. I had already been popular in class for doing stand-up routines in class, impersonating the teachers while they were gone, even winning Funniest Guy both in middle and high school. However, the play ended up being presented amongst the best ones at the drama competition in school and from that moment I knew I wanted to act. I was 17 back then, and I was pursuing a career in soccer. The day I turned 18 I left my sport’s dream behind and started doing research about acting classes and auditions.
Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?
DDH: Last year I acted in the feature film “Ilusiones SA” aka “Los árboles mueren de pie” where I played the role of ‘Mailman.’ It’s funny because the audience never learns the real names of most of the characters in the movie because it’s a film about an organization that gets hired to stage fake situations and develops plans to cover a lie or fix something. Some of the names of the other characters are, for example: Director, Bone-Breaker, Secretary, etc. It was so much fun playing that character given the fact that it’s a film set in the 1950s. I always have the most fun when I play characters of a different era; it sort of makes you feel different inside right away. There’s more work to do of course, but the more you work on a character, the more fun you’ll have with it. It feels almost like rediscovering yourself under different circumstances and time periods, it’s simply incredible. So I’m wearing this fancy three layer mailman uniform and talking with a southern Mexican 1950s accent while riding a bike as fast as I can in a 105º humid weather, during 30 takes and needing copious amounts of electrolytes after each take so I don’t pass out. I insist…it was hard work, but super fun.
My character is basically essential in the story, which happens to be about a grandpa whose grandson dies on his way to visit him and his wife, the deceased’s grandmother; but, the grandpa doesn’t want his wife to know their grandson died on the way so he hires “The Illusionists” to set up a whole scenario with a fake grandson. My character delivers the letter to the grandpa where he is “letting him know that him and his fiancé will be getting there in a couple of days.” Grandma buys it and that’s where the whole conflict begins with a grandson whom they haven’t seen in 20 years being portrayed by somebody else!!
A pretty funny and memorable experience during the shooting of this film was definitely the first day of work. My call time was 9 a.m. and I was supposed to be on set at 11 a.m. SHARP. The script happens to be very adamant about the mailman being exhausted, it’s been a long hot day of work for him, and it’s not over. He’s in a hurry and very tired– so me, as a natural perfectionist, run back and forth on my bike in a pretty intense morning heat that doesn’t get any better, adding push-ups to get my blood flow pumped-up and doing running sprints too. We do take 1 and by the end of it I’m practically suffocated lacking air, sweating with all my uniform soaking wet and feeling sick. The assistant director comes up to me and says, “you shouldn’t have done any of that, you have at least 15 takes ahead.” That’s where I learned that sometimes the actual take is more than enough of a chance to plug into character, especially with a heat like that. On the other hand doing one of my first movies with somebody like Jaime Camil was crazy. He’s such a humble guy, treating me the same way he would treat the director, script supervisor or make-up artist, he jokes a lot on set and wants to make sure everyone’s having fun; and he’s one of the leading actors of a TV series that I have so much respect for, “Jane The Virgin.”
I recently shot the feature film “Por Sofía” where I played the role of Danny, the mysterious server who is in charge of the restaurant at nighttime. Every time the detective shows up to the restaurant he looks for Danny thinking he could be related to a murder that happened 20 years ago. There are still questions unanswered about the murder and the victim’s daughter continues to seek revenge.
For me it was a very strange process getting into this particular character because Alfredo Ibarra, the director, always casts actors who are very similar to the character. He wants you to be yourself and deliver your own persona and emotions to the story. During the pre-production I would ask him so many questions and he would just answer back “What would you do?” and that would sometimes drive me insane during the preparation, because my character is a very quiet and mysterious guy, which I’m really not. Either way throughout the shooting I realized what Alfredo wanted and towards the end it all made sense. I learned that the more you trust the people you work with, the better results you’ll deliver performance wise.
I booked this role after working with Alfredo Ibarra on a music video and then on the horror film “Obsidian,” which actually premiered at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival. Alfredo told me that he really liked the vibe I was giving to that character and told me that he was looking for something pretty similar for the character that I would go on to play in “Por Sofía.” Later on, he sent me the script of “Por Sofía” and invited me to be in the movie and that’s how I earned the part.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
DDH: The script. No question. It all starts with the story. You can have a huge production team working on a $60 million budget with fancy locations, experienced people and very-well done editing but if the story is weak or the script has any holes in it your result will be automatically rubbish 10 out of 10 times. You can have an amazing script with an interesting story and organic dialogues and characters and shoot it on an iPhone and it could still be a masterpiece. That’s the main reason I took the role in the film “Por Sofía.” You’re hooked on the script by page 5; it’s got so much intensity and adrenaline in it. It’s simply interesting.
Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?
DDH: What I’ve been cast for the most throughout the years has been the best friend/comic-relief type, which I can relate to 100%. Fortunately my role in “Ilusiones SA,” which has been the biggest production I’ve ever worked on, was the total opposite. I didn’t sleep for 3 nights before the audition doing research about the life in Campeche, Mexico in the 1950’s, my iPod had only music from that time, and I even voluntarily assisted at the Post Office of my neighborhood for two days just to have a better understanding of the needs and tasks that people that work in that area need to fulfill. I knew the role could change my life, and that’s the reason I worked so hard to get it. I beat over 1,000 people for that role. And that’s been so far, my most satisfying achievement.
Can you tell us about some of the theatre productions you’ve participated in up until now?
DDH: I did “Of Mice and Men” directed by Christopher Thornton at the Stella Adler Theatre Complex where I played the role of Lenny, which I absolutely loved. It was incredibly challenging, because when you read the play you come to an understanding of the fact that there’s something odd about Lenny. The difficult part of playing this character is the fact that the material never actually tells you what is up with him, he’s not fully retarded but at the same time he’s not all there intellectually. You barely know a little bit of his past but the actual play never justifies what’s wrong with him. I followed my instinct while developing the character and surprisingly Chris Thornton, the director, found it very suitable, justified and funny from the start. I never expected this because I initially didn’t even know what I was doing and Chris tends to give you 10,000 notes about what’s wrong with the scene during rehearsals. Fooling around on stage by making a mess with food all over the floor, spilling water and doing a tantrum like a little kid, felt so freeing and mesmerizing. I would definitely do it again. It was without question, the most fun character that I’ve played on stage.
I performed the role of Chance, a gigolo drifter in the production of “Sweet Bird Of Youth” directed by Milton Justice in Los Angeles. It was an awesome experience due to the fact that I was playing a hustler who’s trying to take advantage of a washed-up famous actress in order to make it big. There were so many long and funny scenes in which just being there and experiencing the lives of these desperate, needy human beings was beyond fantastic. Milton is a very smart and specific director; he knows how to guide each actor specifically and manages ways for you to get more in touch with the core of the character.
Out of all your productions both in the theatre and on screen, what has been your favorite project, or projects, so far and why?
DDH: I would say “Ilusiones SA.” Working on a high-budget feature alongside a massive movie star, Jaime Camil, and being directed by Roberto Girault, who has box office records under his belt, while being 21 years old almost seemed surreal. Getting a phone call from the executive producer saying that I beat the other 1,000 people in the audition room and booked the role, and that my flight tickets and hotel are already booked and then to start shooting the week after didn’t feel normal at all. I remember that during those days I had already given up on that role, thinking I hadn’t gotten it, and all of a sudden….BOOM!!
It’s like a rush of adrenaline in your whole body when you receive news like that. All that energy, being around hundreds of people on set working and playing an awesome character on top of that being so young was absolutely incredible. I had a lot of fun during the shooting and the whole experience of playing a character from a different era while getting great props from Roberto Girault felt great.
What has been your most challenging role?
DDH: The Mailman from “Ilusiones SA.” It was fun but at the same time there was so much pressure involved. You’re 21 years old, working with famous well-recognized people on a million-dollar feature so you don’t want to mess anything up. I even had my own assistant, which made me feel self-conscious at times. Time is money and nobody cares if you’re a young actor. The facts are these: It’s 105º, it’s an expensive movie and I’m being suffocated by the heat almost passing out while riding a bike as fast as I can with a three-thick-layer uniform on top of my body, but we need to nail it because there are 2 more scenes that we need to fulfill that same day. At a certain point it was hell. Character wise I had no problems with the acting but the pressure from the outside was a mental nightmare.
What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
DDH: Comedy. I’ve always been a natural comedian. You could meet me at a bar and there’s 85% chance that you’ll say, “You’re so funny,” after I drop an honest bomb on you shamelessly. Never with bad intentions of course.
What separates you from other actors? What do you feel your strongest qualities are?
DDH: I’m not scared. A few very hard experiences in life that I’ve been through have taught me that fear is mental– it doesn’t exist. It’s a defense mechanism of your nervous system that you’re born with but it’s controllable all the way to the point where you can disable it. You are at audition rooms and 9 out of 10 actors are scared to death even if it’s just a small role. You can see the fear in their eyes, you can see the “What am I doing with my life?” in their eyes. Not me, not anymore. If the director says go running out fully naked screaming out loud non-sense holding two Coronas I’ll do it. I’ve done it in real life, so….What’s the difference?
Have you been in any commercials or music videos?
DDH: I did a commercial for Tinder, the dating app playing a Spider-Man character that was so fun and silly. I appeared in a music video of Sonus, a band from Argentina considered by People magazine “The Latino One Direction.”
What projects do you have coming up?
DDH: The movie “Por Sofía” is set to be released through the cable channel Cinelatino in January.
What are your plans for the future?
DDH: Keep working hard and find roles that I love and am passionate about. This is a profession where you never stop learning and you can always surprise yourself in any way.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
DDH: I just want my work to be remembered and felt. I want people to leave the theatre wondering, thinking, over thinking. I want to cause a positive impact on people’s lives. Entertain them of course, but at the same time I want them to connect to my work, to feel related to it and to take it in their personal lives.
Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?
DDH: Because it lets me fully be what I want to be while making an impact on other people’s lives. Giving them some magic so they take it with them and enjoy the ride. Enjoy life.