For someone who just turned 26, Joseph Julian Soria is making some serious moves – most recently starring in the film fest favorite Filly Brown and joining the newest season of Army Wives as Hector Cruz, husband to Gloria (played by Alyssa Diaz). We caught up with the young actor to get the scoop on his Army Wives character, his celebrity crushes and the lowdown on his love for Meryl Streep.
Let’s start with your background – where’d you grow up?
“I was born and raised in El Sereno in Los Angeles, California. I’ve lived out here in San Fernando Valley for a while now. I’m third-generation Mexican-American.”
How did you get into acting?
“I got into acting solely by chance. I took a theater class in college because I needed a unit [of credit] and just fell in love with it. It wasn’t even performing; it was listening to the instructor talk about acting and the art of acting – creating characters and telling stories. And just like that, it ignited this fire. It was like a light switch went off and I thought, ‘I’m an actor.’”
Filly Brown has received a ton of attention. What was your experience with that project and filming?
“I got involved with that honestly because I wanted to work with Gina Rodriguez on a project. We became friends two years before and just really hit it off, and this project came about and she goes, ‘JJ you need to read for this character [MC Wyatt] in Filly Brown, you’d kill it.’ And they send over the material, and honestly, this guy is an asshole. And I go, ‘Is this what you think of me?’ (laughs) She goes, ‘No, no, I just know you’d do a great job.’ So I auditioned for it and it really took off from there… it’s a great script and a special project.”
You’re now on Army Wives – how has that experience been? What’s your character like?
“Well, the way I heard about the job, I was at the gym and I got an email from my agent that there was an audition in an hour and a half. So of course, everything goes wrong. My printer doesn’t have enough ink to print out what I need, I have no time to shower, I’m just scanning through these sides and audition materials to try and get the gist of this character. It was crazy. I got to the audition 15 to 30 minutes ahead of time and did the audition. Then around midnight my agent tells me that they want me to do a chemistry read with Alyssa Diaz, which is funny since we had done one of those together before for something else [in the past]. So I went in the next morning and left feeling pretty confident I got the job. Next thing you know, I’m in South Carolina [filming]. I play [Private First Class] Hector Cruz, who is a young man who develops a relationship with his wife mostly on the internet, and who wed really young. They’re still learning about themselves and each other.”
What’s been your favorite role or project so far to work on?
“You know what, it’s hard to say, every project or character that I do is special for different reasons. It’s the same with the question on how I choose roles. It’s not always about the character – sometimes it’s about the people you work with, sometimes the story, sometimes it’s the character or role, sometimes it’s a combination of those things."
What projects are in the future? What are you hoping to do?
“Well, hopefully [Army Wives] is picked up for another season. We’ll know around the end of September. My goal is, before the year is done, to book an action or a drama and a lead role. Preferably for a studio film or a really amazing indie film.”
Why action or drama?
“Well, action is fun. (laughs) It would be fun to do something where stuff blows up, things get crazy. For drama, the stories are just richer. There are more layered characters. But whatever I do, I try and come from a place of vulnerability and I try to come from a place that’s real. Even if it’s comedy. I did a recent State Farm [Insurance] commercial where a buffalo basically comes and hits my car. And it’s funny, yes, but for comedy to be funny, the role has to be played seriously. So I had to think how I would actually feel if a buffalo came at my car. I’d be [truly] scared. (laughs) So that’s where I went with it. I hope that all my roles, no matter what they are, are based in reality.”
Who do you see as a career icon?
“Matt Damon has a great career. Tom Hanks has done really cool stuff in range.”
Who would you love to work with?
“Cate Blanchett, she’s amazing. Meryl Streep and her are like the ultimate actors, in my opinion. As far as men, I’d like to work with Ryan Gosling, Tom Cruise, they’re really talented… obviously many, many more. “
Do you have any celebrity crushes?
“Oh wow. I’m drawing a blank. I mean, there are so many beautiful women (laughs). Eva Longoria is nice. Eva Mendes is nicer. I can’t pick!”
What are the future goals? Do you want to write, direct or produce?
“I definitely want to produce at some point. Directing is something that I want to get into, when I feel like I’m a strong storyteller. I’m a goal-oriented person, so right now my focus is acting.”
What do you do in your free time?
“Go to the gym, play sports like basketball and football. I’m a USC fan and Lakers fan. I sing.”
Would you want to do something in the future with music?
“Anything I do I want to be the best at it, but I don’t necessarily think I’m the best singer out there right now. I do think I have something to offer though. Where that’s going to take me, I have no idea. But yeah, I can make some noise.”