I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Oscar Nuñez of NBC’s The Office, twice now, and each time, the 51-year-old comedic actor—who is a Cuban from New Jersey, just like yours truly)—has ever-so-humbly pointed out the same thing: “The Office is very much the Michael, Jim, Pam, and Dwight show.” Oscar, I am all for modesty, but I must respectfully disagree with you. As the grumpy, gay, Latino office accountant at Dunder Mifflin, you are just as funny as your co-workers, and I tune into the show regularly because you make me laugh—especially when you share scenes with your zany boss Michael.
I hereby proclaim today "Oscar Day" at Vivo por TiVo, and I encourage all of you readers to celebrate by thanking the accountant in your office for inspiring such a brilliantly disgruntled character. But before you do that, check out Vivo por TiVo's exclusive interview with Oscar below to find out what he had to say about The Office's recent "Jump the Shark" moment and what it really means to be a Jersey cubano. Plus, he tells us which shows he TiVo’s!
This season, Oscar “The Grouch” Martinez seems to be opening up more to his co-workers. Is he becoming a softie?
Yeah, I think so. The show’s in its fifth season, and it’s going to spread out more as far as the minor characters having more to say. He still has that snooty attitude, but he’s a human being and has a soft spot when things happen. Like most people, he feels sorry for Michael.
How much input do you have in shaping your character on The Office?
I don’t have a big concept of what this character is, or where he should go. I have no desire to. The writers created it, and they’re pretty funny! Unless it’s something horrific that we think is not going to work, everyone goes along with what the writers write.
Is there anything you do in real life that the Office-version of Oscar would never do?
Oh, he would never do a lot of stuff! He’s just a bit of a square, and a nice fellow. I am probably more opinionated than he is when it comes to politics. And obviously, there's dating women. He would never do that.
What would conservative Oscar say about the Rihanna/Chris Brown scandal?
Oscar would probably say: “They’re just kids-is it any surprise?”
Will we ever meet Oscar’s boyfriend on the show?
No idea. We shoot Monday through Friday, and on Thursday, we’ll have a table read—we only know three episodes ahead what the next episode is going to be.
Which has been the weirdest coupling on the show so far ,and why?
They’re all kind of expected, but if I had to pick one I would say, Andy and Angela. He’s a doofus, and her heart really was with Dwight. She likes his Nazi philosophy, but he killed her cat! She couldn’t’ forgive that.
Some have predicted a “Jump the Shark” moment for the show when Angela licked her new cat. What do you think about that? Is this a “Jump the Shark”-proof show?
No show is "Jump the Shark"-proof, but there have been other moments on The Office that I think were more "Jump the Shark" than that.
Why do you think the American version of The Office has been so successful?
I think the British one was as successful, too, but they only made 12 episodes. That show is brilliant and amazing. There’s no comparing them. We've done more episodes because it’s America and we’ll keep going until whenever, but we're not any more successful.
The fire sequence in the Super Bowl Sunday episode was probably the most chaotic 8 minutes of TV we’ve ever seen. Did anyone actually get hurt during the actual taping?
No, but it took us a day and a half to shoot that. Usually it takes us 45 minutes to shoot. It involved so much stuntwork, and cats. We had to throw a cat up there.
What defines a New Jersey Cuban, as opposed to a Miami Cuban?
We own more sweaters than a Miami Cuban. But all of us Cubans are a boisterous people. We like our food, our gesturing, our music. I was on YouTube, and there was this video I saw called Cubano vs. Cubano street fight, and it was these middle-aged Cubans from Jersey in the middle of the street, having a brawl over women. It was pretty funny.
You can’t visit Vivo Por TiVo and not tell us what your favorite TV shows are…so spill it!
I like 30 Rock, Flight of the Concords, and I’m watching Heroes this
season. Also Dexter, Californication, Mad Men, and The Daily Show.
Now that you’re living in LA, do you get recognized often?
A little bit. Life in California is beautiful. I didn’t like it the first four years that I was here, but I love it now… People say, “Oscar, what’s up!" Kids recognize me—everybody loves the show!