Published on August 10th, 2018 | by Landon Buford0
Mile 22 Star Carlo Albán Discusses His First Action Role and Training with Seal and Ranger Servicemen
Backstory: Carlo Albán is an actor originally from Ecuador but relocated to the U.S. with his family when he was just seven years old. He would begin his career basically by a fluke Albán accompanied his cousin on an audition the musical Oliver. He would leave the audition with the role of Oliver. At the age of 14, he would land a regular role on the PBS hit show “Sesame Street” for five seasons.
After his time on Sesame Street Albán appeared on notable television shows such as “Oz,” “Law & Order” and “Prison Break.” He has also had the opportunity to work alongside Mickey Rourke and Dan Futterman in the TNT movie “Thicker Than Blood” which earned him both ALMA and Young Artist Award nominations.
Albán drew his inspiration actors like Sam Rockwell, John Ortiz, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He would later join the renowned LAByrinth theater company. After his contributions led him to originate the role of ‘Oscar’ in Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning SWEAT. Other credits to his name are Jose Rivera’s References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot at the Public Theater; the world premiere of Octavio Solis’ Lydia at the Denver Center, Yale Rep and the Mark Taper Forum; and Bruce Norris’ A Parallelogram at the Mark Taper Forum under the direction of Anna Shapiro.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the talented actor about his upcoming role in Mile 22 as William Douglas III aka ‘Douglas. He also shares what it was like working with current WWE Superstar Ronda Rousey and training with servicemen.
What was it like working with new inducted UFC Hall of Famer and WWE Superstar Ronda Rousey in Mile 22?
Ronda is the best – and I don’t mean just as a fighter. I mean as a person. I honestly did not know what to expect. All I knew of Ronda was what I had seen from her UFC days. But I was pleasantly surprised to meet a very kind, curious, engaging person. For someone that has accomplished so much in such a short period of time, she was really down to earth and genuinely open to learning from the people around her. She’s kind of a perpetual student; having mastered one thing, instead of just sticking to that, she’s venturing into new territory to learn something else, like acting. I think that’s something to be admired, and the sign of a true master.
Where you able to pick up any training tips from her during your time together on set?
I wish we’d had time! But we were all pretty busy learning a whole new skill set. Using the weapons and skills required for this shoot put us on a tight learning curve. Also, Peter Berg, the director, did not want Ronda to do what you would expect of her in the film. He wanted her to focus on her character and the weapons we trained to use. He’s great at flipping the script and giving people a chance to do something new and unexpected.
Can you tell us what your favorite part about playing your character Douglas was?
I loved how new it all was to me. Even though I’ve been acting for a long time, I’ve never had the chance to play a soldier or be in an action film, both of which I’ve always wanted to do. What kid hasn’t dreamed of that? Training to use the weapons, watching the special effects team at work, watching the stunt team doing things that seemed superhuman, it was all very new and exciting. I learned a great deal. And on top of that, working with such a stellar cast – it was a dream come true.
During the making of this film, you were able to train with a Navy Seal and an Army Ranger. Can you take us through that intense process?
Our military personnel were some of the first people I met when I arrived in Atlanta, where we shot half of the film. We spent a couple of weeks training with them before filming began. The first thing they taught us was how to safely and accurately handle the weapons. We were representing real branches of the military, so we all wanted to make sure that we did so with as much accuracy and respect as possible. We then spent a week in an abandoned hotel that the production rented out, learning how to work as a unit, practicing different scenarios, moving down hallways and clearing different premises, firing blanks at targets that our instructors planted. It was pretty intense, but we all had a lot of fun doing it and we worked our asses off. And we had the benefit that our instructors were with us throughout the filming, so they were there to help as we continued to hone our skills on set.
You like to play the guitar would you want to be part of “The Scoring” process in any of your upcoming project in the future?
I think if it was a film where I was playing a character that somehow involved music, I’d be up for that. For the most part, though, I just play for myself. Music has always been in my life as a grounding, sanity keeping force. I haven’t shared it much with the public. But if the opportunity presented itself with the right project, I’d be down.
You have been involved in a variety of projects involving law enforcement from your time on Law & Order, Prison Break, Fringe, and now Mile 22. As an actor what intrigues you the most about action roles?
This is actually the first action role I’ve done. The closest thing to this would be Prison Break. But it wasn’t anything close to what I got to do in Mile 22. I love the genre. I always have. I’ll be the first person at the theater with my popcorn in hand on the opening night of any new action movie. So to watch people like Pete and Mark and Iko who have a lot of experience in this realm work was thrilling. And seeing the special effects and stunt team, watching it all get pieced together, seeing the amount of work that goes into every shot and sequence, all gave me a whole new level of appreciation and respect for the genre, beyond just how much fun it is to see on a big screen.
How did moving around a such a young age help mold you into the person you are today?
I think being an immigrant gives you a lot of perspectives. You spend and a lot of time as an outsider looking in, which in turn creates empathy. Or it can. I think as an actor your job is to put yourself in other people’s shoes, and in order to do that you need to have a great deal of empathy for your characters, no matter who they are or where they come from. Also, as an immigrant, you learn to navigate new environments, which is something you have to do as an actor all the time. Also, adversity builds character and strength, and I think those are essential for all of us, as actors and as humans. I wouldn’t trade the experience I had for anything.
Is there anything in the works that we can look forward as well heading into next year for you?
Next up I’m doing a tour of Sweat, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play I did on Broadway last year. And I hope to have more opportunities to work on projects like Mile 22 in the near future. I learned so much, and I’d like to continue to utilize those skills and learn some more.
How would you pitch our audience to see Mile 22 using a 30-second elevator pitch?
If you want to see powerful, kickass women, martial arts unlike anything you’ve seen, killer gunfights, explosions galore, real-world tech, whip-smart action – all that plus a little humor mixed in – go see Mile 22!