Interview #49 Nelson Bonilla #actor #Ozark

My favourite Nelson scene has to be with crazy Sue the therapist. I sense a comical side to his character, is this something we will see more of?
That was certainly a favorite scene of mine as well. Marylouise Burke who played Sue is super talented. I could see immediately why she became such a fan favorite. I became a fan of hers right away. I had a lot of fun filming that scene. Truth is, Nelson does have a sense of humanity. But he has kept it locked away and separated from his work for so long it is difficult for him to get to it. Rightfully so if you ask me. In his line of work, you never know who the next mark might be. And as we learned in Seasons 2 & 3 it could be anyone. So, it was decided early on that Nelson would be this stoic figure. Steady, focused and prepared to do his job, regardless who he was directed to.

When you look back at your career so far which role has been your personal favourite and why?
It is hard to pick a favorite. But considering I do a lot of dirt-bag roles and crooked cops; on a personal level it is always nice when I get to dive into the messier side of life. The one role that comes to mind is a piece I did for “The Haunting of Hill House” directed by Mike Flanagan that streams on Netflix. I was playing a guy named Gordon, an army vet who suffered from PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction. In this particular scene I was in a group setting at rehab and I had to describe to the group how, in a drug induced incident I cut the eyes out of my head in order to keep from seeing this burnt up little Iraqi girl. As an actor you never want to take for granted that you have an essence about you. A vibe. A sense of who someone might perceive you to be. So, when Casting sees me, they like me in certain roles because of the way I look and or make them feel. You must be good with that because that means you will be working. But every now again Casting will get a deeper glimpse into your vault. When that happens, it can be a lot of fun.

Do you think being part of a large family led to your success?
I suppose you can say that. But I think it was more about where I grew up. Camden, NJ did not have a lot of opportunity. 9 square miles of ghetto made you tough. We had to hustle for everything. I was a small kid, so I got pushed around a good bit. If you were not big and tough you had better be smart and fast. Once my size caught up with my speed and tenacity, I was always a little faster than the other guy. Just a bit smarter and harder worker. These are the things that set me apart, I think. They still serve me well today.

What attracts you personally to specific roles and can you see yourself taking a different course in future, behind the camera, writing scripts?
At this stage of my career I still consider myself a professional auditioner. I have to audition for every role I get. Nowadays things are getting harder. The more you book the more Casting starts to pay attention. Then you start getting shots as larger roles. That means stiffer competition. But I do not mind being the bad guy. Writing is a big part of my daily routine. I journal as often as I can. More so for a sense of balance. Journaling helps me put things into perspective. It allows me to be present and still. Who knows what it will lead to.

What’s coming up for you next?
Typically, a question like that is answered with a healthy balance of discretion and mystery, depending on the project you are working on. Some shows or films demand an extremely high level of secrecy prior to its release. Today it is more about uncertainty. The acting industry, much like many others, has taken a back seat to Covid-19. Tens of thousands of people in our industry are home doing their part to slow the spread. Others are working in a virtual setting writing and setting up pre-production in hopes to be prepared once we have a handle on the virus. Until then, it’s important for me to stay well, in all respects. Being informed about what is happening but not obsessing about it thru the media lens. Being present and appreciating the time I have been able to spend with my family. Staying active and fit is important to me, so I do my workouts every morning and Kat and I go for bike rides on the Beltline a couple of times a week. Reading and journaling have played a big part in my life during this shutdown. My health and wellbeing have always depended on my ability to have balance. I’ve found that if I can be spiritually at peace, sustain an active routine while keeping my emotions somewhat still I can be well. And that’s good for me and those around me. As for the acting realm, I was able to be a part of a couple of films before the shutdown happened. “The Time Capsule” starring Brianna Hildebrand, directed by Erwan Marshall and “Cherry” starring Tom Holland, directed by Joe and Anthony Russo are both in post. With a little luck we will get to see those films sometime in future.

A big thank you to Nelson for this interview, may I wish you all the best with your future projects.


Nelson Bonilla – IMDb
OZARK – Netflix official site

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