James Martinez is making his way to the big screen. The actor, who recently starred on Season 5 of House of Cards, will be putting politics away and playing the role of a loving father in the upcoming film "Aaron’s Blood." The movie, which is set to be released on June 2 in select theaters, follows the story of a single dad and his relationship with his son, Tate. Fearful that his hijo could be becoming a vampire following a blood transfusion, Aaron recruits the help of a vampire hunter (played by Michael Chieffo) to find a cure.
We chatted with Martinez about the upcoming thriller, working alongside Kevin Spacey and more.
Tell me a little bit about your character Alex Romero.
Alex Romero is an Arizona congressman. He is very ambitious. He is trying to work his way up the political ladder and trying to find his place in the White House. He’s very progressive, but in the process, he also has to come toe-to-toe with Francis Underwood. He’s basically using all of his dirty laundry – sort of speak – to have the upper hand and expose him for all the corruption and everything he’s done in the past, like his agenda for going to war and everything. He’s basically using all that to expose and have himself move ahead.
What was your experience working alongside Kevin Spacey?
It was very intimidating at first. I had met him a very long time ago when I went to Juilliard for acting school. He went there as well. I was able to meet him a little bit and just warm up to him and break the ice. He’s really funny. He’s a genius, in my opinion. He’s extremely talented. I learned a lot from him. When I showed up to set, he introduced himself, asked me about myself, and we kind of bonded on the whole Juilliard thing. We just got to work. We collaborated, and exchanged ideas. He’s very open and very generous. It was a relief.
You are starring as the leading actor in the upcoming film "Aaron’s Blood." Can you tell us a little bit more about the film?
Yeah, I’m very excited. It premieres in select theatres June 2 and then comes out On Demand June 6. It’s funny because it’s being promoted as a horror movie, but, for me, it was more of a family movie. It was a movie about the relationship between a father and his son. I play Aaron. He is a nurse; that’s what he does for a living. He has a son who suffers from hemophilia. He has a blood drive for his son, Tate, to try to get him healthier because he's suffering from a serious blood problem. But then he gets an anonymous blood donation that causes my son, Tate, to go through some changes. At first they seem positive, but then after a while he starts turning into something that Aaron doesn’t understand. He goes on a mission trying to find out where the blood came from so he can bring him back to normal. It’s an intense journey. I think what the father goes through to save his son is really touching. It just happens to have an element of vampirism, but, to me, the vampire virus could be anything. It could be any disease. You just want to save a loved one.
What did you enjoy the most about working on this film?
I enjoyed the creative control I had in it with Tommy. Tommy is the director, and his son is Trevor Stovall. His son was actually playing my son in the film. I just felt it was very collaborative. He was very open to my input in the writing, in the character, and just the whole production in general. It was great to carry a movie and to be able to have so much input as to the direction. So I think that was my favorite part.
How would you say you relate to your character and how would you say you're different?
I’m not a father myself, and I’ve never been married. Those are the big differences between myself and Aaron. I did have a very good relationship with my late father. Him and I were very, very close. I really used those memories to inform me and to feed me as to how to create the role of Aaron. I really just remembered our relationship, our dynamic and everything my dad did for me. I just tried to apply that into my relationship with Trevor, who plays my son. It brought back a lot of memories, and I tried to recreate that same energy, that same love that I had between myself and my dad.
I know you started doing standup comedy. Are we going to see your funny side anytime soon, or are you going to stick to more serious roles?
Yes, I did comedy in New York City back in the '90s. My comedy was more impression-based. I did a couple of impressions. Then I got into Juilliard and focused on drama. But yeah, I do have a funny side that I think will be introduced – actually pretty soon. There’s One Day at a Time on Netflix occurring now, and that’s a sitcom taped in front of a live studio audience. They brought back the old sitcom from the '80s One Day At a Time. This time it revolves around a Cuban family and a single mother. I play a reoccurring role as the mom’s ex-husband who comes back from Afghanistan and he just tries to charm his way back into his family’s life again. That actually got picked up for a second season this year. It’s shooting as we speak, and it should come out in the fall this year.
There’s a lot of aspiring actors living in the city. But as we know, it’s a tough business to get into. What advice would you give them?
I can’t even count on both hands the amount of times that I was about to quit just because of how difficult it was. Sometimes I wondered if I would’ve even done this if I knew back then what I was in for. I went to Juilliard so I figured, "Wow! There’s no way I’m not going to work when I graduate. I went to Juilliard! What else do I need? I got this down." Like you said, it is a business. The business side of it was the side that I needed to learn about. I just have been doing that through experience. I’ve learned a lot about relationships and keeping people around you that inspire you, motivate you and that believe in you. That’s what allowed me to persist and keep going in this industry. I think that is the key.
Are there any upcoming projects that you would like to share with our readers?
I’ve got the second season of One Day at a Time coming out later this year. I just started working on a reoccurring role on Major Crimes on TNT. It’s a five-episode arc, and he’s someone very different from myself. There’s a kidnapping case, and he is suspected of maybe kidnapping his own son from his ex-wife. That’s the story line there. I’m crossing my fingers for a sixth season of House of Cards. It’s set up in a great way. I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a great cliffhanger. I think they set it up to have another great story and some more interesting characters for the next season.