Single for the time being, and entirely devoted to his craft, which has been his true passion since he was a child, the very handsome Eugenio Siller is enjoying unprecedented success in his long career as an actor thanks to his role as Chema in the NetfIix series ‘Who Killed Sara?’
We took the opportunity to visit Eugenio while he’s back in his Los Angeles home taking a break from shooting for a few weeks so he could tell us all about his life and the sweet taste of success. He openly shares the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to him, as well as the saddest. Also revealing the eternal contradiction regarding his skin color.
While posing for the cameras on the beaches of Malibu, California, this was everything our incredibly handsome leading man had to share.
“I forget that I am famous. There are times when people stare at me and I wonder: “Why are they looking at me?”
I signed on thinking it was a great project, and expected it to do well in Latin America, but because it was in Spanish, I never imagined it would become such a worldwide success (in more than 100 countries). So much that the first and second seasons have been on Netflix’s top 10 list worldwide, and number 1 for several weeks. It’s the first series NetfIix has dubbed in 8 different languages.
This character caught my attention since the beginning, I loved the script. It was a big surprise when I was told I’d be auditioning for the role of Chema. I’d never played a gay character before, and it was a huge challenge for me. Since the beginning I was told there’d be explicit scenes, and this was unknown territory. I’m quite modest and shy, so you can imagine how fearful I was doing something I was not at all familiar with.
Yes, I spoke to my parents and brother, we’re a close knit family. I’d already decided to accept the part, but I asked for their opinion nonetheless. I said to them, “Hey, I’ve received this offer, what do you think? I really don’t want to do anything that will make you uncomfortable.” They answered, “What are you talking about, you don’t even have to ask, this what you do, this is your profession, tomorrow you’re a lawyer, the next day you work at an office, next you’re a murderer, a wife beater…” It’s amazing, to know that you can play any part!” That’s all I needed to hear to be 100% sure I would take the part.
“If I had not had the success that I have had, I would not have starred in a novela. My teenage friends would continue to make fun of my dreams.”
A lot more. Before I’d only get recognized by the Latin American audience, now I get stopped by English speakers in the US. “Are you the guy from that show?” It happens to me often, it’s surprising, even when I’m wearing a face mask, people recognize me because of my eyes or hair or maybe something else.
You know something, I forget. I don’t feel like people recognize me because I’m an actor…can you believe I sometimes forget? I live such a normal life on a daily basis that if someone stares at me, I’ll get nervous. I’ll immediately start thinking, “What’s wrong, what are they looking at?” I forget that maybe they’ve recognized me because I’m an actor.
I’m working on it, I’d love to make it here. Not just because it’s Hollywood, the quality of everything produced and directed here is beyond impressive. I can also tell you I’d love to work in Spain, I really like what they’re doing over there, as well as Italy. I think there’s a time for everything and it’ll happen when it’s right for me. The exposure I’ve had from this series is amazing for sure, but I don’t say I dream about making it in Hollywood. What I do dream of is working at the highest levels in the world, wherever that is, with characters that frighten me and take me out of my comfort zone.
I’m the biggest contradiction, ever since I was born. -He confesses with a smile.- Even though I’m 100% Mexican and I love my country, not looking the part has given me many advantages and disadvantages for a career in television. There is a small window for actors like me in Mexico, but once I earned my spot, many doors opened. Here in Hollywood, even though I’m Mexican, I don’t look Latino and I don’t have the American culture down 100% for other types of roles. So where do I fit in? My English is perfect but I always get sent to auditions for Latino roles and of course I’m not going to get them. One day my agent called and said, “Hey, do you think you can play this Latino character?” I answered, “Are you serious? I’m Mexican, I’m Latino, of course I can play this character!” But then when you read the physical description of the character, it’s always dark hair, dark skin…
I did it once for a part. But at this point I think people will have to picture me with white, black or red hair. My hair color can’t define me as an actor. What if dye my hair black and then something comes up where the character is blonde (my natural hair color), I can’t do that anymore. Many people have said to me, “Do it, Sofía Vergara darkened her hair and it worked out great for her.” I don’t think it’s like that anymore, times have changed. Besides, you can tell a lot more when men color their hair. And what happens when my blonde roots start to show? It’ll look like I’m balding. I am a contradiction here and in my own country, so I guess I’ll have to swim against the current. The good thing is that I haven’t gotten tired yet. I’ve always had to deal with things like, “You’re Latino, but don’t look the part, you’re Mexican, but don’t look the part either.” I have Mexican acquaintances who do look the part and it’s gone better for them, and I ask myself, “When will I get to swim with the current?.”
I moved here from Miami in 2013. Though it was very difficult in the beginning, I fell in love with the city. I didn’t know a single soul. I would spend entire days without speaking to anyone. I mean no one. This is a very lonesome city and it can be a struggle to make friends. Regarding work, having self-love is most important in L.A. If you don’t have that, this city can eat you up. You have to have very thick skin to not be affected by what people say. “I thought you’d be taller, better built, I don’t like your voice, goodbye, next…” And you’ve been preparing for this part for three straight days. It would really get to me in the beginning.
The hard way, and really struggling. Until one day I said, “Enough, I don’t care anymore.” Between experience and maturity, having spent many years in this business… there comes a point when you say, “I won’t suffer any longer, I’m just going to learn to relax.”
Yes, in fact I’ll never forget it. I was auditioning for a part in a series that I was perfect for. I arrived at the audition and there were twenty just like me but better. Perfect features, six feet tall, tan. They all looked like models! I thought, “Should I leave?” Then convinced myself to stay, none of these guys had the experience I did, “Let’s do this!” From where I was sitting, I could hear everything they were saying. One guy was better than the one before. There was one guy in particular that looked like a model, I heard him say he had studied acting but also psychology to understand his characters better, with a masters in criminology because he liked crime series. Everyone had this sublime level of preparation! I just thought, “My God, I really have to step it up if I want to compete with the best.”
Very few. The ones I do have, have been my friends for many years, they’re very loyal. I studied with some of them and we’re still in touch. In this business you get to meet a lot of people when you’re working. But then the project ends and many times you never hear from them again. It’s not that I’m reserved as a person but I do pay attention to people’s energy.
I consider myself easy going. I get along well with everyone and don’t turn anything into a problem. I’m obsessive about being on time, learning my lines, and I’m ready when I have to be. I will always be on time and ready to work. I’ve been told it’s cool to work with me because I’m fun. I try to make time between takes more enjoyable, meet everyone in the crew and have fun during those long waiting hours. What would be the most difficult thing about working with me? It would probably be that I expect the same level of professionalism I offer. This could make me complicated to some people. If you say you need me on set at 6 in the morning and we don’t begin until ten, I will give you a piece of my mind. If the costume department has done one thousand tests on my wardrobe and I have to walk around with pins because my clothes are too loose, or standing outside while it’s freezing waiting for the makeup artist. Things like that get to me. But when I complain, I always do it with respect and good manners. I get frustrated only if they push my buttons. I’m never rude but I can be quite honest and direct when I feel something is unfair. It’s a very gratifying but cruel career. I love what I do when the cameras start rolling, but sometimes it’s challenging to take it easy when dealing with everything else.
It was when I thought I’d lose my mother because of an illness. My mother suffered from migraines and had some tests done. One day my brother and I received a phone call from my father in Mexico telling us she’d be having surgery. She had a tumor. We were in shock. There were no flights available and we had to take a bus to Monterrey, Mexico for hours without sleep. It seemed eternal. So many things go through your head at a time like this, I was feeling guilty for living far away, thinking of all I had missed. We arrived just two minutes before she went into surgery, she had this big smile on her face just to make me feel better. -He recalls with such sweetness in his eyes.- The surgery was longer than expected because of complications. We were terrified and things got even worse. She was sent directly to intensive care, she suffered a stroke and had to have a second operation. I’d flirt with the nurses just so I could stay with her longer, hiding under their desks when the doctors would walk in. This experience made me vulnerable and empathetic, it brought us closer as a family. My mother was born again for us and for herself. It took many years for her to recover, a small part of her brain was removed and this affected her balance.
“My life is pure paradox: in Mexico I don‘t look Mexican and in the United States I don’t look Latino”
I understood that you can’t buy health. Charisma, personality, relations and money are useless. Those are the moments when you realize how fragile we are as human beings. They say that death is so sure it will catch up with us in the end, that it gives us all of our lives as a head start. A life we can fully live and enjoy however we like. I try to be thankful and enjoy my life to the fullest now that I’m more mature and have had my share of difficult experiences. I also appreciate life more and try not to stress about the little things. I’m a workaholic, my work is my life, sometimes I have to stop and enjoy the little things. Sometimes I ask myself, “Am I happy?” It’s definitely a journey.
They have their own business. They work with eco-friendly and biodegradable bacteria based bio-enzymatic cleaning products for hospitals, restaurants, water treatment plants, soil remediation, lagoons, etc.
It’s always my parents and my brother. We’re very closed. They know everything about me, I call them all the time. Ever since video call exist we talk all the time, sometimes twice a day. We’re in constant communication.
Having such a close relationship with my family and achieving the career of my dreams. I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. My whole life all I’ve ever wanted to do was be on stage, sing and act. I’m aware that not many people get to live their dreams. Those are the two most beautiful thing life has given me.
I was the oddball in my town. I grew up in a very small and conservative place. I was the weirdo because I loved the theater, movies and music. “Why do you want to go to Mexico City? You’re never going to make it, very few people do.” I began to feel like a stranger amongst my friends from the age of 15 until about 18. I had ambitions, dreams, I wanted to see what was out there, go to the big city. They would dismiss me, make fun of me, it was a difficult time.
I don’t know! After many years, when things started happening for me, I’d run into them and they’d say, “Eugenio my old friend, my wife is a big fan, please say hello to her. When are you coming back? We’d like to invite you to our home.” I’d think it was kind of sweet, but then I’d say to myself, “Wow, if I never had made it, they wouldn’t have given me the time of day, they’d probably still be making fun of my dreams.”
Always! In the beginning, when nothing would happen and I couldn’t land a role, I’d call home terribly sad, about to give up and questioning absolutely everything. Other parents would have probably said, “You see, I told you this would go nowhere, you should have studied something more useful, come home.” My parents were the opposite, “Be patient and fight for what you want, this is your dream. Your father had to struggle before he established himself, at least you’re doing what you love, and not suffering doing something you hate.” They’d say this to me time and again.
Congratulations with all of your success. Enjoy filming the new season of ‘Who Killed Sara?’!
Photos: Nunu @nunupictures
Makeup & Hair: Paul Anthony @paulanthonylove
Wardrobe: Poshenko @posshenko
Suit Poshenko wardrobe