Marc Anthony on Returning to Hawthorne!

Tonight is the highly anticipated Season Three premiere of the medical drama HawthoRNe on TNT at 10/9c. We caught up with Marc Anthony, who is back as a series regular— detective Nick Renata opposite Jada Pinkett Smith! Check out what he has to say about his character and more.

What can you tell us about Nick and Jada’s character, Christina Hawthorne? Last we saw she was struggling with the news that she was pregnant, so we’re all dying to know if there’s a possibility of a romance this season between the two.

I think it’s out that there’s some kind of love triangle, right?  We’re still filming it, so I don’t have all the details. That’s the one thing about doing TV is that it’s sensitive to information. What I can say is that Nick is back in full, full, full force. 

Well, they definitely have a chemistry so we're glad they brought him back as a series regular.

Something happened in the hospital and he was called back. I wanted to be a part of it from the beginning and sort of wanted to find a way to come back because I like Nick.  I like the challenges that not only he faced but that he posed to the whole dynamic. So when Will [Smith] and Jada sat at my house and told me what they were thinking about this season, I was blown away. I was blown away at how hard they were going to go this season and just stop at nothing – and that level of commitment, on that level, it was a no-brainer.  So we did everything in our power to work it out.  If it was up to me, I would’ve been in all ten episodes but I could only do seven out of ten. And it’s fun, it’s so fulfilling, it’s gratifying.  As an actor, that’s the situation you want to be in.  It’s a really fertile ground for creativity.  There’s no small idea, there’s no big idea, there’s no bad ideas. 

And they trust you so much.  I think last time we spoke you told me that Jada was like, ‘You can do whatever you want with the character,’ essentially.

Yeah – she really, really let me carve out who Nick was and I felt like I had a seat at the table. So that was very, very important to me just all the way around.  Had it been anything else, had it been a situation where you just read the lines well and let’s move on, I don’t think it would’ve been as gratifying or as satisfying so it’s the perfect situation for me. We’re really pushing it, we’re really getting down and dirty and it’s fun.  There’s nothing like it. I thought that the show could’ve used an identity sound-wise and that’s why they hired me as an executive music producer.  I just thought that, since we’re going for it, why not go for it on every level?  I thought that it was really valuable real estate and so I’m scoring it.  I’m producing, I’m overseeing all of the music and it’s really weird because I’ll be on set and they’ll yell 'Cut!' and the producer will come over and say, ‘Um, I need you to approve this cue.'  I'm like, 'Huh?' I’m not used to it yet – being the person where the buck  stops musically.  But I believe that we’ve created just a sound or tone of the show that even if it was playing in the other room, you’d be like, ‘Oh, that sounds like Hawthorne!’ 

Is it instrumental music or you’re also playing with some other sounds?

Instrumental, mostly – it’s scoring.  It’s a lot of fun.  There’s a lot going on and you don’t need lyrics.  It’s all right there.

What sounds can we expect to hear?

My version of “Que Lio” [Marc’s cover of the Hector Lavoe classic] is going to be in one of the episodes. It’s in one of the scenes.  Not scored – it happens to be a part of something. I love that song. I didn’t realize how much I liked it until I filmed with it.

You know how in Grey’s Anatomy they did that musical episode? You once told me that you were a fan of Grey’s.  Was that something that you considered for Hawthorne— doing a whole musical episode where you show your singing chops?

I don’t need to show my chops to anybody.  I think it’s a problem when people know that you sing.  When you’re playing a detective – I don’t want to be the singing detective.  It’s hard enough to suspend the disbelief so absolutely no musical… there are ways to do it, but not here.  I don’t think I’d want any part of that.

You've said that the work you’re proudest of as an actor is Man on Fire.  I’m curious about El Cantante because it was a performance that was really appreciated, at least personally speaking.  Do you think that it was appreciated on a critical level?

I’ve never heard anything bad about my performance, or Jen’s performance. It’s so funny because the people who come up and tell me [that they loved it] are actors that I respect.  And at the end of the day – not that that’s what it’s all about – I enjoyed the process.   It was a privilege to be able to have done it.  I learned a lot and my colleagues got it and commended me for my performance, so I’m good.  You know what I mean?  Did it get that reception that it should’ve or could’ve – it all depends on what your expectations are. 

Is there a dream role for you?

A dream role for me would be anything that I would find challenging.  It could be anything that’s challenging and before they yell ‘Action!’ I get a little nervous because I’m standing there wondering, ‘Am I a fraud?  They haven’t figured out that I don’t belong here?’ I just like a challenge.  I really need the challenge.  I don’t need to be on a set.  I don’t need to be filming anything for any reason.  I gravitate towards challenges and the possibility of getting it right.

So in that sense, it must be different from music and being on a stage because that seems like it almost pours out of you.  It almost seems like if you can’t sing, you can’t breathe in a way.

There’s a lot of truth to that but I think it’s only a matter of time before I get as comfortable on set as I do onstage.  It’s the same thing – it’s storytelling.  I can tell you a story in four minutes in a song and I’m trying to make you believe that this is what I’m going through.  Same with acting, the only thing is it’s a little more literal. 

And there’s all the different elements that come together.  There’s the musical component, there’s all the visual stuff.

A one-hour episode is like a huge, complicated song.  You know what I mean?  It’s the same thing.  Timbales is just one element, congas is another one.  The trumpets, and then the trombones, and the bass and then the piano.  So all these elements have to come together to make a song.  Same with episodic television and films – a lot of things have to come together in order for the story to be told. 

And you get a chance to rewrite it or relive it every week, so that’s nice about it, too.  The story continues.

Absolutely and they’re very receptive to that.  That’s what I mean by fertile creative ground is that there’s no such thing as a bad idea.  They’re open.  It’s funny because we sit in meetings every morning to go over what we’re going to do.  And we’re sitting there and I’ll go ‘Hmm.’ And someone will go, ‘What’s that?’  I’m like ‘What?’ And they go, ‘You’re looking, you’re thinking something.  Say it,’ so it’s encouraged.

Let’s talk about that American Idol finale performance— that was fire!  What we all want to know is, what did you say to Jennifer at the very end? She started laughing. We were trying to read your lips, but none of us could make it out. So what did you say?

What do you think I said?

I have no idea!  Probably something funny, knowing you. Or maybe something naughty?

I know what I said. I told her, ‘I think I left my socks in the dryer.’[Laughs]