Kevin Hernandez talks Get the Gringo, on Blu-ray and DVD starting July 17th
You may remember Kevin Hernandez as the adopted foster child with a strong taste for cherry bombing bathrooms in The Sitter. He returns this week in Get the Gringo, playing opposite Mel Gibson as a youngster forced to live inside a sprawling Mexican prison with his prostitute mother.
We recently caught up with Kevin to chat about his experiences in bringing this film to the screen, and as it turns out, he and Mel Gibson have a lot more in common than exploding toilets. Read on for our conversation, then be sure to pick up Get The Gringo on Blu-ray and DVD, in stores today!
Does this type of prison that we see in the film actually exist in Mexico?
Kevin Hernandez: Oh, absolutely. We shot this in a real prison. They just moved the prisoners for us to go in there. It was a real place. The prison was great. It had real bars. Everything was real. It was very depressing. Everything around the prison just died. I truly got a sense of what it was like to be inside that type of place.
Did you get a chance to talk with any of the local kids in Mexico, who live on the streets and are about your age? Did you get a feel for what their life is like on a daily basis?
Kevin Hernandez: Yeah, somewhat! I didn't talk to many kids. I spent most of my time taking to some of the real prisoners. I got to visit the prisoners in the real jail, and they would tell me what life was like on a daily basis. I would stick to that, and adapt that. I would constantly wonder about that, what would happen if I were a kid that lived there. What would happen to my family? This would be what I went through every day. This is what I must eat. I got information from those prisoners. For sure.
How helpful was Mel Gibson in terms of bringing this performance out of you? Did he act as a mentor on set?
Kevin Hernandez: Yeah, he was great. We had a great time, learning the story. Before we shot a scene, we would go through the moments. I learned a lot from him. He is a truly great actor. He taught me so much. And we always had a lot of fun. He would let me explore when we were shooting different types of scenes. We would try out different styles. We were having a great time.
The Sitter proved that you are great at improvisation. Was there a lot of room to bring that skill set to Get the Gringo, or was it important for you and the other actors to stay on script?
Kevin Hernandez: I did get a chance to improvise. Yes. I actually shot Get the Gringo before I shot The Sitter. They didn't know my work from Get the Gringo when I got The Sitter. It was just another audition. I went through it. For me, the two movies were very different. This one is drama, the other one was comedy. So, I tried to do the other side of acting. I love comedy. It's a lot of fun. I love to just improvise and have fun. Just to see what my mind can come up with, and just go with it.
Do you have a favorite moment or scene from Get the Gringo that you loved shooting?
Kevin Hernandez: Yes. The shoot out. That was a fun scene, because everything was happening. There were so many explosions. There were more than a hundred people there. And everything was happening so fast. All of the action, and everything. It was great to be there. You'd be focused on one thing, "I need to know what is happening right there." Then you'd go watch the scene back on the monitors, and there would be all this stuff happening that you didn't see. There were all these explosions, and gunshots. You'd see your face, and then you'd see all this other stuff. It was pretty amazing.
Did you get to participate in those stunts yourself? Or did they have a stand-in for you?
Kevin Hernandez: I did the really simple ones. Yes. Because I wanted to know how it felt to get thrown down. If I could, I would do all of my own stunts. There is a fight. I wanted to learn how to do it. I tried. I want to say, doing that stuff was the most fun.
Mel Gibson is quite well know for his action movies, and doing some of his own stunts. What kind of advice did he bestow upon you in taking this adventure?
Kevin Hernandez: What I liked most...What he truly taught me, was to be real, in my character, at all times. Because, staying in character...I didn't know...If a kid has a lot of pain inside of him, and he is just mad...I have never had that much pain in my own life. I wondered, so I asked him, "How do you get into that?" We practiced and we practiced. We just got into our characters. I think my character came out pretty well because of that. He definitely taught me a lot.
Take me through a day on set when you are having your kidney removed. What was it like to shoot that scene?
Kevin Hernandez: That was easy. But there was a scene there, where they wanted me to look like I was struggling. I had to move around. And pretend like I was bleeding. That was pretty crazy. Because I have never been in a surgery room, nor have I ever been in that much trouble. That was pretty fun to shoot, though.
What sort of process did you go through in setting up this on-screen relationship with your mother?
Kevin Hernandez: Well...When we first met, she was really nice with me. I was excited that she also spoke Spanish. So we used that to help our cause. We talked. She did have a little daughter. We became very connected, I thought.
What does being bilingual in Hollywood afford you that some other kids don't have?
Kevin Hernandez: More chances. I can be in a Spanish-speaking movie, and then be in an English-speaking movie. It means a different type of acting. I want to keep doing comedy. Because I really liked it. I just got to say whatever was at the top of my mind. I want to try more. I am looking forward to doing more of that.