Benjamin Bratt isn’t sure whether he would be able to rise up as a leader in dystopian future like his character, Parco Delgado, in “DMZ.” “It’s tough enough being a dad and a good one at that. It takes a lot of focus, a lot of concentration, a lot of work and a lot of invested time and love, but it is my favorite focus at the moment,” he tells Gold Derby during our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video interview above). But the idea of whether he could do such a thing reinforced something that he truly loved about this story. “It’s when circumstances press upon you enough where it forces you outside of your own perception of yourself and into actions that you might not have otherwise undertaken, where true leaders rise to the occasion.”
“DMZ,” which can be streamed on HBO Max, is set in a near future where America has descended into a civil war and the island of Manhattan has become a demilitarized zone that sits between the two warring sides. Alma, or Z, (Rosario Dawson) is a medic who to be smuggled into Manhattan in the hope of finding her son who she lost during the evacuation eight years earlier. In the process she encounters the two men who run the island, who she knew prior to the war, Parco and Wilson (Hoon Lee), and also becomes a universal symbol of resilience for those who are still there.
Bratt was excited about playing Parco when the pilot was shot but became worried when showrunner Roberto Patino had to condense the long-term plans for it down to three additional episodes. “That’s when taking on the role gave me pause, but I had already shot the pilot. When I read those three subsequent episodes, it took me probably about a week to pick up the phone.” He told Patino that he didn’t realize Parco was so close to being a sociopath, willing to put his family and other children in danger. Patino was able to bring him around. “Roberto said, ‘Another way to look at it is that Parco, for better or for worse, is a product of his environment. He rules by force and by whoever’s strongest, which he learned as a soldier. This is all too familiar to him.’”
Bratt also credits all the technical elements in the series in helping to bring the best performance out of him, including sets, costumes, visual effects, writing, directing and the performances of the other actors. “It’s all the trickery that goes on behind the curtain that hopefully sweep people up into the story…but they’re essentially not ultimately the thing that we’re focusing on.” He adds that Patino would routinely say that he wanted to “tighten up the aperture a little bit and focus on the story at hand.” “You have a tale that really can be told on an immense canvas and yet the primary focus is on the people and their faces and their emotional interactions.”
If Bratt were to score an Emmy nomination for this, it would be his first in over two decades. His only nomination to date was in the Drama Supporting Actor category for “Law & Order” in 1999. He was defeated by Michael Badalucco for “The Practice.”
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