In a time when some of Hollywood’s biggest franchises are losing steam, the eighth installment in The Fast and the Furious franchise is taking theatres by storm. Among the cast of The Fate of the Furious is actor Celestino Cornielle and if joining one of the biggest movie franchises in the world wasn’t enough, Cornielle is also featured in the two-part season finale of TNT’s Major Crimes. I talked with the actor about his career so far, learning from disappointment and his very big April.
As an actor, what initially made you fall in love with this profession?
Falling in love with acting was serendipitous. I was modeling in South Beach and my agent calls with an acting audition, 2 Fast 2 Furious. I was a bit resistant but still went and I was terrible! I stumbled and fumbled my way through the reads palms sweaty and all.
It was an awful and very humiliating experience to say the least. I left the audition ashamed and brokenhearted yet determined that that would never happen to me again. I wanted to redeem myself so I sought training and in the process, I fell in love with the craft. A year later I booked my first film, a project I co-starred alongside Eva Longoria, and not long after, I drove out west.
What is it like coming into a franchise as robust as the Furious films?
Very much like the new kid in school. In particular, the F8 family has been together for a very long time, but I can attest that, even though I showed up like a long lost relative, I was welcomed as family nevertheless.
It’s a grand project and traveling to Cuba required a lot. I recall feeling a bit overwhelmed at the airport amidst the multitude of cast/crew being shepherd through the emigration process. Standing in a long line, I feel a tap in my shoulder – it was F. Gary Grey to welcome me to the project. The gesture meant the world to me and was indicative of the energy that enveloped me throughout the project.
In an action movie, how do you stay grounded as an actor?
Working on such a big and muscular action drama revs you emotionally very intensely. Walking through the street of Havana researching my character, I bought myself a bongo. I practice earth-based spirituality, drumming can be a meditative journey. I created the practice to play my bongo in between takes. It helped keep me centered.
How did the film challenge you as an actor?
Working in a project full of titans was surreal. I am such a big fan of the cast, Vin Diesel and The Rock in particular, so not geeking out was my biggest challenge!
I just wrapped on the 2-part season finale of Major Crimes for which I am very excited. The episodes air April 5th and April 12th respectively. The Fate of the Furious premieres April 14 so I am looking for April to be a big month for me.