Photography by Nicholas Maggio. Stylist: Alison Brooks. Hair: Candace Bossendorfer at Exclusive Artists. Makeup: Agostina at Exclusive Artists. Producer: Richard Villani. T-shirt by Jet by John Eshaya. Jacket by Black Skull London
It’s only natural to worry about your first-day-of-work outfit. But few have experienced the level of anxiety that Miguel Ángel Silvestre did when he arrived on the set of the new Netflix dramatic thriller, Sense8. Ushered into the wardrobe trailer to get into costume, he quickly found himself mortified. “I saw only a sack,” he recalls. “Only a cock sock! Skin-colored, with two little ties to make a knot. I said to the wardrobe girl, ‘Is this all?’ ”
An hour later, clad only in the revealing garment, the 33-year-old Spaniard clambered into bed to shoot his very first scene for the series, a wild romp featuring three different partners of various genders. “It was my first work in the United States—in a cock sock, kissing all these people at the same time,” Silvestre says.
Was it awkward afterward? “I felt like everybody was my best friend!” he says, laughing.
Silvestre is so charming in person—gregarious, touchy-feely, and with rakish leading-man looks—that those claims of an instant rapport with his cast mates are easy to believe. He’s perhaps best known to American audiences for his supporting role in Pedro Almodóvar’s playful 2013 film, I’m So Excited, and he quickly became close pals with the gay filmmaker, who regards the actor almost as a protégé. “I’ve seen at least 30 or 40 films he’s given me to study,” says Silvestre, running down the list of acclaimed talent whose performances Almodóvar considered cinematic homework for the rising star: “Bette Davis, Cary Grant…even Jennifer Lawrence! He told me to see Winter’s Bone.”
That education has proved useful. Even beyond the racy sex scenes, Sense8 is Silvestre’s most challenging, high-profile role to date. Co-directed and co-conceived by Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix) and J. Michael Straczynski (Changeling), the show revolves around a group of strangers who discover that they can read each other’s minds, and are soon hunted for their telepathic connection. That link is especially poignant for Silvestre’s character, Lito, a closeted soap star who’s finally forced to open up to the strangers inside his head.
“I think it shows you in a very poetic way that the more you get along with your nightmares and your fears, and the more you accept and surrender to them, the more relaxed you are to live your life,” says Silvestre.
Still, there’s one aspect of filming that he never found relaxing: Every time Sense8 required him to fire a gun, Silvestre had to close his eyes. “I couldn’t play it cool, you know? I was scared of that sound,” he says, suddenly bashful. “And Lana told me, ‘Now you see how difficult it was for Keanu Reeves!’ ”
Sense8 debuts June 5 on Netflix. Watch the trailer below: