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Javier Muñoz on going from Shadowhunters superfan to guest starring as Lorenzo Rey

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Mar 26, 2018

Since last fall when it was announced at New York Comic Con, we've been waiting not-so-patiently for Javier Muñoz to make his debut on Shadowhunters. As a die-hard member of the show's fandom himself, Muñoz was just as excited as the rest of us to meet Lorenzo Rey, rival warlock to Magnus Bane and, according to the Hamilton star, a fun, complex bad guy with a "delicious darkness." Muñoz spoke to SYFY Fangrrls about what we can expect when we finally meet Lorenzo Rey this week.

You've been a fan of Shadowhunters for a while now. Can you tell me how you got into the show? 

I have, actually. I want to say it was our first year on Broadway with Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda [who was starring with Muñoz as his alternate until Muñoz took over the role] was still doing it seven times a week, and I was only doing the Sunday show, so I had some downtime. Things were sort of calming down, as far as the machine and the craziness of Hamilton. I wanted to find a show to watch to sort of binge, and come home, take my mind off the day. I constantly had Shadowhunters on my queue. "I think it's time to start the show," and I finally did. Cut to it's 4 in the morning and I'm still watching episode after episode, binging it on my couch, and that was like my first introduction to it. I couldn't shut it off. I started following Kat on social media, and the rest was sort of history. 

Was it your social media friendship with Kat that got you involved in the show? 

It's crazy, but that's where it starts. Kat was a fan of Hamilton. I was a fan of Shadowhunters. She caught wind of me posting about Shadowhunters, and we connected, and stayed in touch, and became friends. The next thing I know Matt Hastings is at the show, Harry's at the show, and eventually ...

Oh my god. 

I know! It was crazy. I think the showrunners, I believe the way it happened was that the showrunners saw the opportunity for this sort of mashup, if you will. I want to say that the fandoms of both, there's a lot of both fans of Shadowhunters who were fans of Hamilton, so there was a lot of fuss over there. Next thing I know, I got an offer for Lorenzo. I'm not going to lie to you, the 7-year-old inside of me geeked out and is still geeking out. It's awesome. 

There is such a crossover of genre fans and Hamilton fans. I think it's because Lin is such a nerd, that everyone's just like, "He is one of us, and Hamilton is ours, too." 

It's true. It's true. It's very true. I think that quality carries over and is a glue. 

Can you tell me a little bit about your character?

I sure can. You're going to find out a lot about him [this week]. I think it's wonderfully sculptured in that way, as far as the writing goes. You find out a lot about where Lorenzo comes from, and his sort of upbringing, and how he's gotten to the point where he is. You find out more, of course, throughout the season. It's a really great introduction. I don't want to ruin anything, but you'll find out. I think you find out enough to know, "Oh, that's why he's here. That's who this guy is." 

What I love about him is that he's not a bad guy just for the sake of being a bad guy. There's absolute history there between him and Magnus. There's a reason that Lorenzo has a chip on his shoulder. It goes back a long way. I love that, because it's purposeful, and as an actor that's so great to play. That just gives it so many layers. He starts off as someone who's quite calculating, and sinister, and definitely a bad guy. As the season goes on, you'll see the layers. He's got a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek energy, and wit about him, that's so much fun to play. The scenes between me and Magnus are just, they're wonderful. 

What's it like playing a really fun, complex, bad guy? 

I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it, and I can't say it enough. I don't get to play things like this often. Even Hamilton was still the hero of the story, so it's just wonderful to show up and know that I just have to be the thorn in Magnus's side, and get to play that sort of delicious darkness. It's so great. It's such a new, how do I say, energy for me to be able to explore, as far as acting goes. He's so much fun, he's so much fun to play. 

When I was talking to Kat, we were talking about how after losing Valentine, this is a new world for them, but they're still dealing with the consequences of everything that happened before. What's it like, as a fan, to kind of be part of that new way of pushing the show forward?

It's twofold. Every time I'm on set, I try to only read the parts of the script that pertain to Lorenzo. There are actually characters that I have not met and there's plot lines that I don't know about, because as a fan of the show...

You don't want to spoil it for yourself. 

Yeah. I try really hard to not let anyone spoil everything for me. It is a new direction, and that's what I think is so epic about this season, is the writing really gets into these characters, fleshes these relationships out. I think like anything, you sort of want the show or the experience to mature, and evolve, and deepen, and get richer, and I think that's what they're doing this season. It feels that way at least. To bring someone in who gets to be a vehicle to show so much more depth and so much more richness and history to access his character, I think is exciting. 

I don't know if this is in spoiler territory or not, but the show's been so good about gay and bi representation, with Alec and Magnus. Is Lorenzo's sexuality part of his character? 

I'm going to say that we are not done with the season and anything's possible. 

That's a good answer. How did you balance filming with your Hamilton run? Was it towards the end, right as you left, or was it still going on? 

It was still going on. I tell you, when you're in the thick of something, and you just tell your body, "You've just got to get through," it's amazing what you're capable of. I renegotiated my contract, it was August/September of last year, and I had gone from seven shows a week to six shows a week. My week ended on Saturday, on a two show day. I would do a matinee, an evening show Saturday. I'd come home and be home by like 11:30-midnight. I would pack my bag, which would get me to about 1:30. I would take a nap until about 3 a.m., and I would have my coffee, have my breakfast, and get ready to go to the airport. I would have my car get me around 4:00, 4:15, drive me to the airport. Take a 6:30 flight to Toronto, and land, be driven to a three-hour costume fitting, and if there's rehearsal, I would have rehearsal after that. The only sleep I would have was, like, that hour to hour-and-a-half between finishing packing and waking up for the car to take me to the airport. Friday to Saturday was the last time I slept, so we'd get to the costume fitting, and that last hour of the costume fitting I was delirious every time, just to be done. 

How long did this go on? 

This was every time, that was August all the way to January, when I left Hamilton. I mean literally between Saturday and Tuesday, I'd be in Toronto, filming on that schedule, and then I'd come back, and go right back into Hamilton. I look back on that and I'm like, "Wow, that was crazy." 

Did you get used to the delirium and the tiredness? 

You do, yes, you do. It's almost masochistic, you sort of enjoy the fact, because I'm doing what I love. I'm literally doing what I love. It's crazy to think about, but it was exciting. It was always exciting. 

Did you notice that affecting, even in a good way, your performance at all? I've noticed that when I'm really tired and loopy, that's when I write some of my favorite stuff. I didn't know if that was the case with you. 

Yeah, there's no barrier. You know what I mean? There's no overthinking because you're just so exhausted. I'd like to say that it's purely my acting, but the delirium also helped to add a color to Lorenzo, which is his tongue-in-cheek and comedic side, which you'll see. I was at times so exhausted on set, that a lot of the choices came out with humor. I think that became a likable thing, an aspect to Lorenzo, which evolved through the season. It's a combination of my acting choices and just being really exhausted. 

Primarily, obviously, you're working with Harry [Shum, Jr.]. What was he like to work with? 

He's amazing. He's amazing. I mean in all aspects. I'm a stage actor primarily, so a lot of the camera work is new to me, especially in a recurring role. He's one of the energies, besides every single director being so generous and so kind, and so thoughtful and mindful that I am a stage actor first, and being so wonderful with helping me out. Harry was tremendous — such a generous, generous artist. I mean that in terms of as an acting partner, as a scene partner, and also just as a colleague on the set. I really feel fortunate to have my arc be attached to his character, and being able to work opposite him all the time. It's wonderful.