‘Night of the Sicario:’ Manny Perez on Leon and working with Natasha Henstridge

Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

Manny Perez stars as Leon in Night of the Sicario. Leon is the leader of the sicarios who invade the senior center looking for the code.

Night of the Sicario is directed by Joth Riggs (feature film debut) and written by Ernesto Melara and Matthew Eason.

Synopsis: Natasha Henstridge (Species) and Costas Mandylor (Saw franchise) star in this action-packed, suspenseful thriller that will shock you at every turn. While transporting the family of a key witness in a federal trial against the cartel, DEA agents are ambushed in a fatal shootout. Now the survivors, including the witness’ young daughter, must take refuge in a nearby home as the ruthless sicarios hunt them down. With danger at every corner and a violent hurricane wiping out any chance of outside help, they must play a deadly game of cat and mouse with the cartel to live through the night.

Check out my Q&A with Manny!

What drew you to Night of the Sicario?

Manny: Oh, a few things- the executive producer who I know very well and have done a few films with in the past. And also the director (Joth Riggs), I’m a big fan of the director. I’m also a fan of Natasha Henstridge, I had the biggest crush on her, you know, when she came up with those films back in the 90s. So, yeah, that’s why I came on board… It’s crazy, but anyway on set, we (he and Natasha) developed this amazing friendship and I have a lot of respect for her and her work. It was great.

What was it like working alongside her?

Manny: She as an actress blows me out of the water. She’s really good and she’s always been solid… I love working with her, she gives you a lot to work with as an actress. 

Does Natasha know that you had a crush on her?

Manny: No, I never told her, I was too shy. 

Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Can you describe how you got into character for Leon?

Manny: Well, you know, what’s funny, I hate to say this, but I’ve always played the bad guy, because of my looks. I always get offered the bad guy so what I try to do is just try to take the bad guy and make him human. I just find his heart, you know, make him human somehow and  likable, even though he is the bad guy. In regards to playing him, the difference between me and him is I am Latino, but I’m Dominican. So the way that I speak Spanish is very different than the way Leon, who’s from Columbia speaks Spanish, so I sort of had to work on that accent to be honest and pure and with the character. That was the hard part of playing Leon, you know, it was a challenge for me?

How different are the accents?

Manny: Between a Dominican and Colombian, it’s slightly different, not very, just slightly different. Like for example, a Mexican is very different than a Dominican, very different, but it’s slightly different from a Colombian. I just wanted to be honest and truthful to where the character came from. That’s just the actor in me.

You said that you try to find something within your characters to make them human and make them likeable- what was that for Leon?

Manny: I’m glad you asked that question. You know, there’s a moment in the film that I actually spoke to the director about because I wanted to add this to the character. This film has some moments which I loved, where everyone is losing their faith, and I wanted my character to also have that doubt. He doubts his faith or he doubted his faith and that’s what made him do what he does now. I wanted to make sure that people can relate to this man and also relate to his past and ask why is he a bad guy now when in the past he believed in faith and that was part of his life. And I sort of wanted to touch base on that, it wasn’t in the script. 

What was it like working with Carol Florence for that intense moment?

Manny: I got to say that was the hardest moment to do for me, because she reminds me of my mom. It is hard for me to scream at her or my mom, or someone at that age, so that was hard to do. But that was my first day on set, to do that scene, so that was very hard to do but somehow we managed to do it. But yeah, I think it was one of the hardest things to do… but, you know, I just got to be truthful to the to the character and that’s all we can do.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Manny: We’ve been locked up for a year and a half and the theaters are opening up so I think we should go and support this film and other films in the theaters. Just because it’s time for us to come back to normalcy and support these films that are coming out now. And of course, you know, with precaution and masking, whatever is available for you to wear when you’re out there.

Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Night of the Sicario hits theaters on April 16 & On Demand and Digital on April 20.