Rubén Blades is one of the greatest in the salsa genre, a reputed actor, a politician and a prolific writer (he is currently working on a book of poems and will be touring Europe this year). But his biggest role now? That would be Daniel Salazar, the Salvadoran immigrant with a tortuous past in “Fear the Walking Dead.”
The series —which had its mid-season finale earlier this week —focuses on how two Los Angeles families survive the collapse of their entire world among the infected. Metro spoke to Blades on set about representation, Trump versus Obama and bringing back Daniel Salazar.
How does it feel to return to “Fear the Walking Dead”?
I’m happy. I’m glad that it’s finally happening, because the way last season ended, everyone had been asking me what happened to Daniel.
How did you build a character with so many nuances?
There is still so much to build. It can be difficult to orient your character, because you don’t know what will happen with him —you don’t speak with the writers. And sometimes what’s written isn’t necessarily linked with what you believe [about the character]. You have to [figure out how to] accommodate that.
We saw Daniel Salazar going through some crazy moments last season. What can we expect now?
Salazar has a crisis, provoked from failing to help his wife. For a guy who always had control, that was impossible to resolve rationally or at will. He wasn’t able to help her or even bury her, and that fractured his whole world. There are things that have made him more human.
What do you think makes this a current, urgent or necessary fiction?
The idea of the infected is simply a metaphor that is used to ask: what would we do? How would the world react to the collapse of all institutions due to illness, war or natural circumstances?
Of course, I see what’s happening and it’s like we’re in another world. We had an American president who could speak in articulate sentences and now we have come to this, the most stupid representation of a public official, something that perpetuates shame and fear. Or look at Venezuela, right now, with a guy who wants to be in power, no matter what.
So, you ask yourself, before all that, what would the consequences be? Those questions work the same for the show. What would you do? What would be the new moral?
Daniel Salazar is an immigrant. Do you think the representation of Hispanics in Hollywood has changed a bit?
No. It’s a complex problem, because there is a stereotype of Latinos with roles that don’t allow them to ascend.
I saw a movie in 1989 with Samuel L. Jackson and one of the roles was “black guy.” That was Samuel L. Jackson! That year, I won an award for “Dead Man Out,” and my life didn’t change, I didn’t get better parts. [Latinos] don’t have better roles to ascend to like Samuel L. Jackson.