Space Invader

6.25.2009

By Derek de Koff

Nerds, rejoice: Broadcast television's only original science fiction film, Virtuality, is nigh indeed. Produced by Ronald D. Moore, he of Battlestar Galactica and Caprica fame, and directed by none other than Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Hancock), the two-hour movie is a shape-shifting hot mess, constantly blurring the lines between reality, virtual reality and various hitherto unnamed realities.

See, there's, like, a spaceship, and it's on a quest to save the Earth, as spaceships are wont to do, and all the crew members keep dipping into a virtual reality to pass the time, but then there's, like, an evil glitch, and then what happens is, well, there's a reality show being filmed aboard the ship, and' Etc. Anyway, character actor Jose Pablo Cantillo plays Manny Rodriquez, a genius scientist who just so happens to be gay. Manny is dating Valentine Orlov, played by Gene Farber.

We caught up with Jose to chat about string theory, playing gay and what we're hoping to be the hottest youth movement of Summer '09: namely, Interracial Gays In Space!

Out: So'Interracial Gays In Space?
Jose Pablo Cantillo: Yeah, my character's a mathematician who specializes in string theory. My boyfriend's played by Gene Farber, and our characters have been dating for about ten years.

Did you know Gene Farber at all before filming the show?
No. We did a chemistry test and it was the first time I'd seen him. I didn't see him again until we started filming. We hit it off -- he's a very intense, funny kid. He likes to play chess. I mean, he has a chess piece tattooed on his back and he approaches chess as a metaphor for life. He's a genuinely eccentric guy -- you know the kind? There's a lot there and you want to get to know him. I would figure out ways to push his button -- I mean, he's hardcore. It infuriates him the way I set up my pawns. He has, like, a Charles Bukowski sense of theatre.

Do you have his phone number? Wait -- You guys are straight, right?
Yeah. I'm married to my high-school sweetheart and have a ten-month old daughter.

So, how did you prepare for the role? Did you go all Stanislavsky, all method actor?
I didn't approach it as 'playing gay.' I just broke it down in my analysis, as in, Gene Farber's character is the love of my life. Like any actor that's open, I just wanted to play it as a smart person who's in love and facing an important decision.

There's a lot going on in the story here. You're on a ship, and everyone aboard the ship enters into a virtual reality to pass the time, and there's a virus in the virtual reality threatening your mission to save the Earth, and meanwhile, you're all being filmed for a reality series. Can you geek out about this a little bit?
Well, that's pretty much it. We're on a ten-year space mission, exploring the current trends with global warming, and we're aware that the Earth is dying, so we're trying to find a way to save human civilization. Meanwhile, there's a reality series being filmed on the ship, so it's a play within a play. And there's a virtual reality program that people plug into in order to escape from the humdrum of space.

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