Interview: Jaime Cepero tells us all about Ellis on ‘Smash’

He doesn't look devious at all in real life!

“By the end of this season, the Ellis gun goes off,” Jaime Cepero tells us about his deliciously villainous character on NBC’s “Smash.” We interviewed him to find out more about everyone’s favorite showbiz swindler and yes, we asked about that little incident with Randall Jones.

So despite all the grief we give him in our recaps, Ellis is one of our favorite characters on “Smash.” And he gets some of the best storylines on the show. Do you agree?

Yeah, absolutely. I think the most exciting thing about this character for me, as an actor, was that he’s really undefined as you go into the series. It sets the platform to kind of go anywhere I want, in as far as storyline. And it’s been really interesting to watch him grow and get a new script each week and see where this kid is going. A lot of the other characters are very defined when you go into the series, and he’s very special in that sense.

He’s also painted as a villain but do you think he accurately represents a certain type of person in show business?

I’ve definitely met some Ellises in my day! I think that’s why there’s such a strong reaction to the character, because no matter what business you’re in  whether you’re in theater or anywhere you know this person. We all know an Ellis who’s overly ambitious, and really brownnosing the boss, and kind of slips up under your radar. I think that’s why people are really responding in such a [strong] way, because we all know this person.

We know Ellis is ambitious, but why? What’s his driving factor?

I think as the series goes on, you kind of get more definition about why he is so ambitious. He starts working for Tom and Julia at first, and he’s working for people of this caliber, and he’s very intrigued by this world he’s working in. He’s getting to see how these people are treated and how much money they’re making he sees all the facts, because he’s the assistant, he sees all the numbers. I think he gets a taste of this world, he gets a taste of these lavish parties, and he wants it for himself because he’s never had it before. That’s very attractive for him. By all means necessary, he’s going to pursue those things for himself.

Is producing his passion, or is he going to try to make his way onstage?

He kind of makes a decision about choosing production as the way to go. I think that stems from his ambition, from watching behind the scenes, from being behind the table and watching how the actors are being treated and the drama he’s seeing on the side. I think he decides producing is the way to go to be in a position with the most power.

What is his biggest weakness?

Probably the blindness of his ambition. He’s just kind of doing whatever it takes but he brashly makes decisions sometimes without thinking about them, which sometimes works in his favor and sometimes not. It’s his biggest asset and his biggest weakness how much cojones he has, but also how little he thinks.

Do you relate to those characteristics?

Jaime and Ellis are very different people. I would say that I definitely admire his ambition. If I had as much ambition as my character does, in real life, I’d probably be in a very different spot. It’s really shocking to get the script and be like, “Oh wow, this kid is not playing games. He really wants this badly.” It’s admirable to me, because it’s rare.

What do we have to look forward to as the season comes to a close?

The next couple of episodes are pretty intense. There’s a lot of conflict between a lot of the characters leading up to Episode 15. The show’s been appropriately called “Bombshell,” because the next couple of episodes are a bombshell. By the last episode, each character has a pretty serious cliffhanger leading into the second season. A lot of critics have called my character the Chekov’s gun of the show when you bring a gun onstage, it has to go off eventually. I can say that by the end of this season, the Ellis gun goes off and it affects every character on the show.

Is Ellis bisexual, or is he straight but willing to do what it takes?

I think it’s pretty clear what happens when there’s a connection that’s introduced between him and Randall. [Laughs] I love when people are like, “Oh, so he’s gay right? Oh, so he’s bisexual, right?” That episode was a very calculated move. He didn’t go out and meet this guy and get dinner at a bar and bring him flowers. There’s nothing romantic about it. It’s a very, very calculated and specific move for him to get what he wants, in order to continue to push “Bombshell” to succeed. He’s using what he has to get what he wants out of that situation. He really seeks out the manager for the purpose of getting Rebecca Duvall on the show. But again, I’m still learning things as the series goes on.

And what about you  what’s happening right now and what’s coming up next?

I’m really having a ball shooting this, it’s my first television thing. I’m trying to enjoy my time off right now, and I’m singing a lot of benefits. I’ve got a couple of projects on the horizon, but we’re really just waiting to see when exactly we start filming. It’s hard to say yes or no to anything, because it’s a very short break. Tentatively we’re supposed to start shooting like in July or August. But in the future, I’m super excited about Season 2. I’ve gotten a generous rundown of what my character is doing in Season 2, so I’m really excited to delve into that. It might sound cliché, but I really want to be a versatile artist. As far as the business is concerned, I’d like to have a hand in pretty much everything. I’d love to do feature film, and I write music, and I’d like to record. I’d like to kind of be one of those artists you see all over the map. That’s pretty much my plan, that’s where I am at this point.

To keep up with Ellis, check out the latest recap of “Smash.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.