#Movies & TV
Carlos Pratts of ‘The Bridge’ Talks about Being on a Hit Show and Growing his Acting Chops
by Lois Elfman
One of this summer’s biggest TV successes is FX’s The Bridge. The gritty drama jam-packed with complex characters has depicted the disparities of life on the sides of a bridge that crosses from El Paso, Texas to Juárez, Mexico. While detectives Sonya Cross (played by Diane Kruger) and Marco Ruiz (Demián Bichir) try to solve a series of brutal murders that involve both sides of the bridge, they also grapple with personal issues.
Actor Carlos Pratts, 27, portrays Gus Ruiz, Marco’s 19-year-old son from a previous marriage. Although now living with his father and stepmother, the tension between Gus and Marco is palpable and poignant. The two search for connection and express their frustrations, but their deep bond has become clear as season one approaches its climax with Gus’s life in peril.
The Bridge is a breakthrough role for Pratts, who has worked non-stop this year. After filming the show’s pilot last November, he worked on the feature film Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones until the series began filming in the spring. Since filming of season one of The Bridge wrapped in mid-August, he’s been working on McFarland, a film with Kevin Costner.
DivineCaroline: The Bridge has gotten ratings beyond expectations. What sort of feedback have you received?
Carlos Pratts: It’s been wild and a dream come true and scary—all of the above. I think we all kind of knew what kind of show it was going to be when we were doing it. The expectations that you have, that we kind of set for ourselves as far as knowing it’s a good show and the quality of our work, it’s far exceeded them. It’s very much to the point to where I can’t even go to the gym without someone saying, “Hey, you’re the kid from The Bridge.”
DC: Was it a grueling casting process for you?
CP: When I heard about the role, the breakdown, I knew if I got in the room I had a good shot at it.
DC: This show utilizes a lot of Spanish language dialogue and subtitles. How do you feel that adds texture to the show and makes the story richer?
CP: I think it’s wonderful for the audience to actually hear it. It’s great for the language itself to be on such a wide scale. People to not only hear it, but be able to understand what they’re saying. I really enjoy that.
We have a wonderful dialect team. It’s a specific accent for a specific part of Mexico. They do an amazing job of making sure everything that is said is on point with Juárez.
DC: You are from Texas. Does it feel familiar for you because you’re familiar with Texas?
CP: I grew up right outside of Houston. El Paso is more what I think people think of when they think of Texas. At some points, I do feel like I’m home, given the environment and the setting.
DC: Are you fluent in Spanish?
CP: Yes, but the Spanish language is diverse, where there are some things that Demián says that I might say differently. Demián definitely helped me a lot. Everyone did. The team did a great job of making sure if I wanted to say something that I was saying it the right way.
DC: Marco Ruiz is such an interesting character. He’s clearly a good guy, but he has some distinct flaws. His relationship with Gus is so complicated. What do you find interesting about playing this father/son dynamic?
CP: As far as the father/son dynamic, what’s interesting for me is I never knew my real father. He was always absent. So in my own personal life there was that void until my step-father came into the picture.
Gus wants to connect with his father on so many levels, but his father’s always gone. At a certain point as a child you give up and you start holding a little more anger. I think it’s more jealousy to the point where in Gus’s eyes Marco looks at his work as his family. The actual family comes second. That’s hard. Like the red bike story (in a recent episode). Gus said, “I didn’t want a bike. I wanted a dad. I didn’t want objects, gifts, I wanted you to be there. I wanted to go play baseball. I wanted you to teach me soccer. I wanted to go and do these things with you, but you were always gone.”
Marco was doing everything he could to provide. The reason he was working for so long was not only to provide for his family, but it was also to make sure that Gus was safe. Being a child, you just don’t see that.
DC: FX is presenting shows that defy convention and refuse to follow a formula. What do you enjoy about working in television at this point in time?
CP: Television is very fast. I’m working on a feature film right now, and we have three months to do it. As far as television, you’re doing an episode, which is 60 pages—half the amount of a film—and you’re doing that in a week. It’s very fast. You have to do a lot of character development before you go into the show. With TV, it’s a lot of trusting, making sure you understand your relationships. I enjoy it. The beauty of it is anything can change at any time. It keeps you on your toes and it’s the best acting school in my opinion that anyone can ever have.
As far as working on this show, working with these actors—both of my parents (Demián Bichir and Catalina Sandino Moreno, who plays step-mother Alma) were nominated for Oscars. They are some of the most terrific Hispanic actors to date. Diane Kruger is an amazing actress. She’s done such incredible projects.
The way the network is working as far as being fearless, which they are, is great. I would be happy working on any network. Working and having a job is amazing. But FX goes that little bit extra. You get to do the really gritty things that when you’re very young and you’re watching TV and you’re thinking you want to be an actor, you get to do that when you go to work. It’s a lot of fun.
DC: What’s Demián Bichir like to work with?
CP: He’s an incredibly hard worker. Incredibly nice. If the camera’s not rolling he can joke, but if it’s an intense scene he needs his space and he prepares. He’s a true actor. They all are. Demián is very special.
People love being with him and they know that when they’re with him they’re going to get the best you can possibly get. He’s so open and kind to everyone. Doesn’t matter if you’re an extra, production assistant or a grip, he’s just the nicest guy in the world.
DC: He’s iconic actor in Mexico.
CP: My mother has a huge crush on him. It’s very cool for me being a Latin actor to learn from him. I tell him all the time, “Thank you.” This opportunity to work with this level of people, it’s a dream come true. To learn from someone like him is incredible on and off camera. It’s been a really amazing experience.
DC: Does Gus it make it out of the flooding space where he’s trapped alive?
CP: You’re going to have to wait and see.
DC: After McFarland what’s on your schedule?
CP: I’m going home for a very much needed vacation.