INTERVIEW: Alexander Nunez, Star of CBC’s MOONSHINE, A Show About Family Dysfunction and Dark Secrets
Toronto-based, Alexander Nunez, is an actor and a screenwriter whose career we should all keep a close watch on! You can watch his show, Moonshine, and find out more about his upcoming projects in our interview below.
Thank you so much for answering our questions, Alexander. We’d love to get to know you! When did you know you wanted to be an actor and creator? What inspired you and what continues to inspire you?
Thank you so much for reaching out! Growing up, weekly family movie nights were upheld almost religiously. It turned watching movies into a huge hobby of mine. We rented Kill Bill (my parents obviously had no idea how violent it would be) and — I know it sounds dramatic, but — Uma Thurman changed my life. She made me feel everything her character was feeling: rage, despair, love, exhaustion, relief… And she kicked ass! I just thought, “This must have been so satisfying for her to perform (minus that infamous on-set car crash). I want to do that too.” Of course, lots of films, shows, and actors inspired me to want to create. But dang, I know every line from that movie. I’ve watched it hundreds of times. I’ve been chasing roles and writing stories ever since! Today, I’m inspired all the time by so many. Issa Rae comes to mind, specifically. Watching her growth and success is awe inspiring. Her stories are centered around black joy and the beauty of interpersonal relationships and that’s exactly the energy I want to put into the world.
Do you remember what it felt like when you first started acting and landed your first role?
Yup! I got a bit of a false start in this industry. When I was 17, I had gone to this cattle-call for a Disney sketch comedy pilot with my friends. I thought I had no chance in hell, casting probably saw over 400 kids that day. But I booked it! My first union gig. It took months to rehearse and shoot, and it was so much fun. It got me my first agent, who I’m still with today. We shot in front of a live studio audience and the feedback seemed so good, we were guaranteed a full season… except Disney passed on the show. It was sad, but I looked onward. Booking a gig on my first try made me extremely overconfident and I was sure I’d land a huge role again soon. Unbeknownst to me, I had no polished acting skill and I tanked auditions for over a year until my agent gracefully told me that I needed to find myself a coach. Eventually, I booked my first scripted role on Kim’s Convenience (you can spot me in the pilot)! It felt like a huge accomplishment, and it totally gave me back the confidence I had lost a few years prior. Now that Kim’s is streaming on Netflix, I still get excited texts about that episode sometimes.
What kind of show is Moonshine and what is it about?
Moonshine is a kick*ss dramedy about the Finley-Cullens: a group of adult in-fighting half-siblings who struggle to keep their ancestral campground afloat. After a death in the family, Lidia (the gang’s big sister) comes home to find she’s inherited a majority share of the family business. But with the Moonshine campground, she also inherits a whole bag of worms: intense sibling rivalry, a secret crime operation, a snooping undercover forensic accountant, a gang leader… and a bum septic tank. The show’s an extremely good time. The music is insanely awesome, the writing keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the acting ain’t too shabby, if I do say so myself! I love to tell people we’re Succession meets Shameless. Best way to put it.
Tell us about the character you play, Sammy, and his relationship to the other characters in the show.
Sammy is the youngest of the five Finley-Cullen siblings. He was adopted as a baby after being left mysteriously on the Moonshine front porch. He’s a good egg — he’s arguably the smartest, or at least the most emotionally intelligent of the Finley-Cullens. He’s the family rock, and oftentimes, one of the few voices of reason on the show. He’s got a close bond with his sister Lidia, but he’s also keeping a huge secret about the Moonshine from her that could threaten their great relationship. He’s also incredibly suave and cool-headed, which I could only wish for myself. Sadly, I’m extremely awkward in real life.
What was your favorite part of working on a show like Moonshine?
The best part of the show was being with so many amazing people! The cast and crew are all like family to me now. We have such an intense amount of love for each other and I feel it attributes to why the chemistry between all the characters is so palpable. The cast has a WhatsApp chat that goes off every day, 365 days a year, baby. My other joy is just getting to read the scripts as they come out! We read the new drafts like rabid fans every time our show runner Sheri Elwood sent them out — and not because… well, we had to anyway. We just couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next!
When did you start screenwriting? What kind of stories do you like to tell, or you hope to tell one day?
I started screenwriting in 2017. It was a very difficult year for me as an actor. In 2016 I felt like I was finally hiding my stride. That autumn, I booked quite a few things and had hoped maybe I’d start to work somewhat regularly… or at the very least, a few times a year. Then, in 2017, nothing. Not even a callback. I was so frustrated; I had decided I was going to make my own thing just so that I could say I acted in something. I wrote and produced my first short. It was hilarious, though it had absolutely no real plot or ending. But I was so proud of what I had made, and I had so many ideas for stories that I just… continued writing! I spent a lot of time since then learning about storytelling and acquiring the literary tools I need to make well structured, meaningful stories. I’d like to think I’ve improved since that year. I studied psychology and criminology in university so naturally, I’m motivated to write about relationships and people’s inner thoughts — why we all do the things we do, to others and ourselves. So yeah… writing-wise, I’m in drama land. Or, at least, dark comedy. No sci-fi or fantasy ideas in my head right now, but who knows? Maybe someday?
Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I just finished shooting season 2 of Moonshine and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. I feel like we’ve completely topped ourselves in every way imaginable. Sammy and I took a journey like no other this year, and I think his story in season 2 will resonate in so many ways with so many people. Now, I’m jumping onto production for season 2 of Avocado Toast the Series! It’s a wonderful comedy series on OUTtv (available on Prime Video in the US and the UK). It stars Heidi Lynch and Perrie Voss as Molly and Elle, two best friends struggling to come to terms with the ups and downs of their own sex lives, as well as the sex lives of their parents. I play Jordan, the assistant to Elle and her mother Patricia, who run an advertising firm together. In season 2, Jordan gets a HUGE glow up and we get to see him as a fully rounded character. I was in the writing room this season, so I’m extremely excited to see what I’ve helped write come to life. It’s also extremely fun getting to act out dialogue you’ve written!
Finally, if you could have one super power, which would it be and why? Would you be a hero or a villain?
JUST ONE? C’mon… Okay, I’m going with Multiple Man. I’d love to be able to duplicate myself at will. I’d be able to go to work, write a script, shop for groceries… all while sitting at home doing nothing. Although… I’m not really sure how that works mentally? Would I be experiencing all those things at once? Or would my clones hate me for having to do the stuff I don’t want to? Who gets to claim being the original me? Seriously, someone please get back to me on this. I need answers.