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Ringer – Nestor Carbonell on the darkness to his role

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Ringer - Nestor Carbonell
Victor Machado (Nestor Carbonell) © 2011 The CW Network

Nestor Carbonell has had a rewarding career working in movies and TV for many years, but it was his role as Richard Alpert on the phenomenally successful series Lost that brought him to the attention of viewers.

He has also played assassin Pasquale Acost in the movie Smokin’ Aces, and appeared as the Mayor of Gotham City, Anthony Garcia, in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and has had recurring roles on TVs Cold Case, Strong Medicine and Resurrection Blvd.

In his new series, Ringer, Nestor plays FBI Agent Victor Machado, who is about to put away a hit man with the assistance of Bridget Kelly (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who has witnessed the murder. But the night before she is to take the witness stand against the felon, Bridget feels that Machado can’t protect her and she flees, going to see her twin sister, Siobhan (also played by Gellar). When Siobhan suddenly and mysteriously disappears, Bridget believes she has committed suicide and decides to take her place, moving in with her husband, wealthy businessman, Andrew Martin (Ioan Gruffudd).

What was it about Ringer that made you want to be a part of it?

Ringer - Nestor Carbonell, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ioan Gruffudd
Nestor Carbonell, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ioan Gruffudd on the panel during the TCAs © 2011 The CW Network

I was drawn to the material initially. Coming off of a show like Lost, that was a serialized thriller, amongst many other things, this seemed like another great way to go. And getting to play an FBI agent [was great]. I had played a similar part in the movie Smokin’ Aces a while back, albeit he was a very twisted FBI agent.

But I figure there’s some darkness to this role. It was a chance to work with great actors. And also, I found out later I’d be reconnecting with Ioan Gruffudd. We’d done a show many years ago for CBS called Century City, so it was a bit of a reunion for us at least.

I also love the conceit of Ringer. It’s a serialized thriller. I love that there are tremendous twists, each character has grave behavior, including mine. I still don’t know what it is, but I’m getting use to not knowing much.

Do you know if Victor Machado is a good guy? Can he be trusted?

Ringer, Season 1 - Nestor Carbonell and Mike Colter
Victor Machado (Nestor Carbonell) and Malcolm Ward (Mike Colter) © 2011 The CW Network

I can’t give much away because I don’t know my own back story. I suppose I could get something out of the writers, but I’m kind of enjoying not knowing too much. I got use to that on Lost, and also being on the Dark Knight with my part there. But I want to enjoy it, because I don’t want to judge him one way or another. I just know he’s driven to do something. The dogged determination he has to put this man away, and chase this girl to help him do it. I don’t know his motivation, but I’m sort of enjoying him enjoying the chase. As long as he’s enjoying it, I’m enjoying it.

What else can you say about your role?

I wouldn’t be surprised if this man has some really dark stuff in his past, and I wouldn’t be surprised of what he may be capable of.

What has it been like working with Sarah Michelle?

Working with Sarah Michelle Gellar is amazing, she’s wearing so many hats, playing different characters, producing; she does it all. And I’m just really excited. And you know what it is? After reading each episode, I’m getting the same sort of similar feeling that I had on Lost, that I can’t wait to read the next one. That’s tremendous. I love the psychological thriller vibe it has, and I’m eager to shoot the next episode.

How has your life changed since Lost?

Ringer - Nestor Carbonell
Episode 1.01 Pilot - Victor Machado (Nestor Carbonell) © 2011 The CW Network

Getting that role on Lost was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever gotten, creatively and personally too. My wife and I were able to move our whole family, at least for the last season, and put our kids in school in Hawaii. I’ve fallen in love with Oahu, which is not hard to do. And on top of that, I got to say amazing words in one of the most inventive storylines I’ve ever known and certainly been a part of.

What was it like coming off that experience?

Well, it was hard. It was such a groundbreaking show in so many ways. How do you follow that? I remember on the set of Lost we would talk about, ‘What are we going to do? It will be really hard to follow.’

But I was surprised to read a number of pilots that were very much out of the box, not typical network fare, this year there were a lot of them. Networks took more chances. Cable has obviously been doing that for awhile, but not the main stream networks. And when I read that CBS was doing Ringer, and it was really unusual for them, then we wound up on The CW, which I think is a fine fit. I was really encouraged that they were doing it.