Rafael Silva is feeling grateful. The 26-year-old Brazilian-born actor just finished his second season as gay police officer Carlos Reyes on the hit Fox drama 9-1-1: Lone Star. But he’s not just grateful for being part of a successful show that also just got renewed for a third season. He’s also grateful for fans, especially fans of Tarlos, the on-screen relationship between him and T.K. Strand, the paramedic played by Ronen Rubinstein.
So, after an explosive episode that featured Carlos losing his house to an arsonist — he was distracted, having one of the steamiest makeout scenes in recent memory, — and a finale that puts the future of the firehouse up in the air, Silva is riding high and looking forward to the future.
Silva says he loves “the way that the audience gravitated towards the physicality of this love… We want to see them love each other, because a part of us also identifies with the characters, right? So we want to feel that part being fulfilled, being loved.”
But as some fans pointed out, it wasn’t just about the physical scenes in the penultimate episode. It was also a huge moment of emotional growth for the characters. “I think Carlos is someone who takes small things very seriously sometimes," Silva says. "So what does it mean that the house burned down while living together with T.K.? He thinks ‘Is this it?’ But we see that in that moment, it's like, ‘No. This made us strong. This is exactly where we're supposed to be. It tested us, and guess what? We didn't fail the test. We're right here.’” The episode featured moving scenes, featuring the characters getting real about how they felt about one another for the first time.
It's all made so much easier because Rubenstein couldn't be a better on-screen partner for Silva. “I think the chemistry also happens off camera too,” he says. “I mean, Ronen and I, we're friends and we hang out together. So there is that relationship, which facilitates the on-screen relationship. It's just easier when that takes place, when you're sharing the screen with someone that it feels like he's got your back.”
Silva knows that same-sex relationships, especially ones featuring a Latino, don't often get this kind of screentime on most major network shows, and he's grateful that he gets to be such a big part of a show that’s pushing representation forward to such a large audience.
“I walked into this just trying to do a good job, as I think anyone really does in any job that they do,” Silva says, “but it wasn't until I actually started receiving messages via Instagram or Twitter saying, ‘Hey, I'm from Texas. Hey, I'm a first responder. I'm not out yet,'" he says. And those messages mean the world to him.
"I had this Latina mom, reaching out to me saying, ‘Hey, our girls are so happy to see someone that represents them,'" he continues. "For me, I can just say, ‘it's just a job, it's a role that I'm doing, yada, yada, yada,’ but for people looking outside in, Carlos looks differently and it can affect people on a rather personal level, in so many different ways.”
Now that the show has been renewed, he's excited to get to bring even more of that to the series, and to dive in even deeper to the relationship between Carlos and T.K.
“I have my own literal dreams and my own storylines that take place,” he teases. “I want to see if Carlos has siblings. I think he does. Hopefully he does.”
Mostly though, he’s excited to see Carlos’ and TK’s relationship grow. After surviving everything from their pasts, and then making it through things like a volcano and an arsonist attack in this latest season, he thinks the characters are ready to start healing.
“I think this is a moment of coming together for T.K. and Carlos," he says. "T.K.'s coming from a place where he's, he's been in a very serious relationship before, so he’s still taking back those layers. He's still going through that. And Carlos is allowing himself to be more open with T.K. and with himself.”
He says he definitely wants to see more emotionally vulnerable moments between the two, “but also more moments in the bed, that would be fun to see," he smiles.
“I think intimacy doesn't just happen with the hug or with the conversation,” he continues. “Sometimes intimacy can happen without words, and sometimes words are not necessary at all.” We couldn’t agree more.