EXCLUSIVE: Audrey Esparza On What It Was Like Working With Ronda Rousey on 'Blindspot'


Audrey Esparza knows how to kick some butt! The actress, who plays a badass FBI Special Agent named Natasha Zapata on NBC's heart-pounding series Blindspot, isn't afraid to take care of the bad guys. In the lastest episode of the series, Esparza will be joined by Ronda Rousey, who will be bringing her professional fighting skill on screen.

We caught up with the 31-year-old actress to talk about her experience working with the UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, the future of the series, and more.

Read it all in our exclusive interview below:

EXCLUSIVE: Audrey Esparza Reveals What It's Like on Set of NBC's Blindspot

Your character Tasha has a dark past, yet she is a total badass. How would you say you are similar and different to your character?

I think your right when you say Tasha has a dark background. I know in the show we don’t really explore it exactly. In terms of the choices she makes, the amount people she lets in, and how she lets them into her life, she’s very cautious. In some ways I understand and I respect that. She’s pretty intuitive and follows her gut when it comes to meeting and figuring out who people are. I think in those ways we are similar. I’ll take inventory very quickly of the people around me. If I love you, I love you. If I don’t I’m incredibly indifferent. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but we do share that in common. How are we different? I think Tasha is not as patient as I am. I feel like I’m a little bit more patient. I think Tasha probably wouldn’t do a great job taking care of a plant. [Laughs] I feel like if you give her a plant it would die. I feel like I have a more nurturing side than I think she does.

Your character recently got arrested for evidence tampering — how is she going to handle being in jail?

I think in a lot of ways Tasha could definitely manage in jail. I think she’s very quickly going to figure out what the hierarchy is of the situation and find a way to fit in. Understand who to be friends with and who not to, when to keep your head down, when to speak up. I think whatever the “game” is in this particular jail, she’s and incredible player.

While in jail you meet a Sandstorm asset named Devon played by Ronda Rousey. What was it like working with Ronda?

First and foremost, I read this particular script and I got really excited. I was like, ‘Oh my god, what a cool script! Tasha goes to jail. Who is playing Devon? Ugh! I hope it’s not a super girly actress who doesn’t want to do any of her own stunts.’ Then somebody is like, ‘Ronda Rousey is going to play her.’ I was like, ‘Get the fuck out of here! No way! No way!’ What was it like working with her? Here is what I have to say about Ronda, she is a girl’s girl. She is kind, she is professional, and she’s incredibly smart. I felt like I had a friends and a partner on set the entire time. I know that people who are her fans will love the work that she does in the show. I think that people that aren’t sure, will become her fan after.

How close is the team to uncovering Phase Two of Sandstorm and catching Shepherd?

Super close. Like super close. Things will definitely come to a head by the end of the season. It’s not going to be a super obnoxious cliffhanger, I promise.

Do you think Zapata and Reade are ever going to get together?

Oh my god! I go back and worth with that one all the time. Here’s how I feel about it. On one side, how incredible is it that we’re seeing a young woman on television and her storyline isn’t tied up on who she is sleeping with. I also think it’s beautiful to show a male-female friendship that is true and that is honest. I’ve had the pleasure of having incredible male friends in my life, including Rob Brown, who plays Reade. I would kick a puppy for that boy. Not really, I love dogs – but you know what I mean. But on the other side, of course they love each other. As friends they love each other and it would make sense for them to take that next step. I worry about his heart in her hands.

If you could, are there any other characters in the show you would have liked to portray?

I would say I would have loved to play Borden. Ukweli is so good, but the character has such a fun turn. In some ways he got to play two, almost three characters in the show. He was one way and then he was another way.

PLUS: Meet the 5 New Faces Taking Over Your TV This Fall

Did you ever expect the show to be as popular as it is now?

There’s a couple months of the year called pilot season. What that means is network are picking and developing new shows and there is a slew of scripts that come in. Two years ago I was sent a bunch of different scripts. Nobody sent me a script with an offer. I had to go in and read all of them and audition. [Laughs] When I read Blindspot, I thought it was incredibly special. I called my manager after I read it and said, ‘this script is special.’ In the script, Tasha’s part is really tiny, but I thought the project was different. Did I expect for it to be popular? I don’t know if you ever can. Not that I’ve been in this business forever, I feel like I’m just starting, but in the little that I’ve done I’ve worked on things that I thought were incredible that didn’t jump off. I don’t know if you can tell. I do think what our show has, that makes me very proud and I believe that people are responding to, is that Blindspot is an incredibly diverse show. It is the United Colors of Benetton show, which is a true reflection of this country. It is an incredibly heavy female show. They’re strong, smart, complex characters. The fact that it popular makes me proud and exciting

Catch Audrey as Special Agent Natasha Zapata on NBC's Blindspot, Wednesdays at 8/7c.