Benito Martinez may have one of the best track records in television. Over the past ten years, he’s starred in critically acclaimed hits like The Shield and House of Cards. Now he’s bringing his unique talents to ABC’s American Crime; a heavy drama, which has already been building Emmy and Golden Globe buzz. Touching on issues like race, class and wrongful persecution, it’s a story ripped from today’s headlines and puts Benito’s character in the middle of an emotional firestorm. We spoke to the veteran actor about his take on the role, his rise to fame and what it means to be a Latino role model on the small screen.
‘LL: People really love American Crime. Did you know from the beginning that this was going to be so well received?
Benito: I’m over the moon about this show. It really is a great piece of work and this is the right time for it. It’s done so well and I’m very, very proud of it.
‘LL: What initially drew you to the project?
Benito: The script had all of the right elements. Most importantly, it had very unique writing. I immediately fell in love with my character, Alonzo. He’s a hard-working guy and a mechanic, just like my dad. I’m also the father of two teenagers, so there was a lot to relate to. The whole piece is so fantastic. I knew I had to play Alonzo.
‘LL: How would you describe the character of Alonzo?
Benito: He’s a man filled with integrity. Alonzo just wants what’s good for his family. And the interesting thing is, how quickly that falls apart. This is a man whose wife died, whose son gets arrested. Everything in his life that’s supposed to go right isn’t working. It’s a fantastic journey.
‘LL: He definitely goes to some interesting places. Without giving too much away, where would you like to see Alonzo’s journey take him?
Benito: I can tell you this much, it’s gets a hell of a lot worse before it gets better. Alonzo has to learn about his children in a way he never thought. But honestly, the journey is so beautiful and complex. It’s a wonderful story about a man doing his best to have a decent life and give to his kids.