The series' Pablo Betart gives us the scoop on the show and breaking into Hollywood
Wildfire has been a highly-rated staple of the ABC Family Channel since 2005. The show revolves around Kris Furillo (Genevieve Cortese) and her chance at redemption at a horse farm named Raintree. The Wildfire Season 2 DVD on shelves starting today, and I had a chance to speak with Greg Serano, who plays Pablo Betart on the show.
How did you first become involved with Wildfire, and how would you describe your characters
Greg Serano: Here's an interesting story. In about 2003 or 2004 I was fed up with the indudstry, and just grinding it out and I actually gave up. I went to paramedic school and took some firefighting tests and just decided to change careers. Now a year before that, I had done one episode of The Dead Zone on USA. So what happened was I give up, go become a firefighter and then I get one more opportunity to go to network, for this TNT show. So, I go to network and, in order to do that I had to quit the fire academy, so I quit the fire academy and I go to network for the show and I don't get it. So now I'm back to ground zero, no possibility of getting back into the fire academy, and didn't get the job on the show.
Greg Serano: So about two weeks later I get the script for Wildfire, and originally Pablo was scripted as mid-40s, which is a couple of years older than I am. So (executive producers) Lloyd Segan, Shawn Piller and Michael Piller, were the producers of The Dead Zone. So they had remembered me from the one episode that I'd done, where I played like a boxer from the East Coast, nothing like Pablo at all. And I read the script, but I thought I wasn't right for the character, but I went in and read. I leave, thinking there was no way this was gonna happen, but they call me and I go to the studio the next week and I'm the only guy there for the part! It all worked out.
So Pablo is the chief horse trainer at Raintree Farms, and finds out the story about Kris. I think because Pablo has had some difficulties in his life, he understands that people deserve second chances, so he gives Kris this second chance to straighten out her life, and it works out. He just goes on to be like a father figure to Kris. I really see him as being a pretty pivotal character for the whole series, because I kind of mix both worlds.
Have you had any experience with horses or any sort of ranch setting before you were on this show?
Greg Serano: None. I'm from New York, Brooklyn originally. The only horses I saw were on TV (Laughs). Then I moved from New York to L.A. when I was 4. So coming to New Mexico to shoot the show, they call New Mexico The Land of Enchantment, and being here I really see why. It's really a different experience. The horse ranches out here... have you ever seen Highlander?
Oh, a long time ago
Greg Serano: There's this scene where Sean Connery is training Christopher Lambert and they come across this stag in the mountains...
Greg Serano: Yeah, and he asks him if he can feel the heartbeat. It's kinda like that out here. It's a place where you can really get the nature of the animals. I took to the horses right away. I felt very comfortable around them, still do. Riding them came very naturally, and I definitely enjoy the experience.
Wildfire has been one of the highest rated shows on the ABC Family Network. What do you think it is about this show that speaks out to the families or teens in general?
Greg Serano: The realism of it, of having a working family, a single mom with a teenager and trying to combine raising a child and running a business. The reality of that, whether it's a horse setting or not, I think people can relate to that. There are very realistic storylines, and the younger viewers can relate to Kris. For the middle-aged viewers, the moms and dads, I think that Nana (Visitor) and myself kind of add that older element to the show while still being fresh - not necessarily hip, but not stale.
There is a season gap between the DVD and the seasons, since Season 2 is coming on DVD now and the 4th Season is starting up soon. Do you know anything about that?
None whatsoever (Laughs). Well we wrapped Season 4 this past June. I think in January they're running a marathon to catch all the viewers up before Season 4.
Lastly, what can viewers expect from this upcoming season?
Wow. Without giving too much away... actually more of the same. Wildfire is just like a horse race, for me. From the beginning when the gates open, you get that rush, through the race of the back and forth and ups and downs straight to the excitement of a photo finish. This is, for me, the best season so far, and it allows viewers to see where the characters really come from. For me, the show is just starting.
Wildfire Season 2 is on DVD shelves today, and look for the 4th Season of Wildfire in January 2008 on the ABC Family Channel.
Dont't forget to also check out: Wildfire