For those who watch television series such as Orange Is The New Black, Pablo Schreiber who acts as Pornstache is not a strange name. Pablo who is the half brother of Liev Schreiber also had a small role in Vicky Christina Barcelona or Manchurian Candidate. Currently, Pablo is busy filming for The Brink; an HBO series which combine House of Cards and 24 but with dark humor. In his busy time, Pablo took time to talk to Jakartanistic by telephone.
Q: How would you describe your character in the show?
PS: I play a F-18 fighter pilot who gets scrambled to drop bombs on Pakistan, and when we meet him he’s in the middle of the hardest day – the worst day of his life, basically – and it only gets worse from there.
His life’s falling apart, he can’t pay his mortgage, he has an ex-wife who’s in the process of divorcing him and making him sell drugs on the aircraft carrier that he operates out of so that they can afford their life.And he has another girl who he’s had an affair with – well it’s not an affair because he’s getting divorced – but who he’s slept with who’s now just told him that she’s pregnant.
And in the middle of this s***storm of his life, he gets scrambled to drop bombs on Pakistan and ends up taking the wrong prescription drugs, and as he’s taking off he realizes that he took the wrong pill, and comedy ensues.
He sinks to very low depths, and the challenge of his character is to be an everyman. I’m the normal guy who is in the middle of a very hard time who then has to deal with extraordinarily ridiculous circumstances. The challenge of the job was to play very realistic reactions to ridiculous circumstances, and that’s where all the comedy comes from. It doesn’t come from creating a character like Pornstache and being ridiculous and making jokes – it comes from playing very seriously crazy circumstances.
Q: He’s a little bit Top Gun-gone-bad, isn’t he?
PS: Top Gun gone bad, that’s good – I’m going to use that.
Q: How much did you know about life on an aircraft carrier or being a fighter pilot when you took this on?
PS: Very little before I got this job. But then I went down to Miramar where they train the guys for this job and met a lot of the people that are currently doing the job.They were very receptive – they are great guys and they love the idea of being involved in an HBO TV show. They read the pilot.And they were not shocked by it, so I guess that tells you a little something about what might be going on behind closed doors.
I basically learned everything I know about that life after I got hired for the job. But it wasn’t a real research-heavy role. I went and I met these guys and I learned about life on the aircraft carrier, but then we were shooting it all on green screen, obviously; I wasn’t flying the jet.This job was about having fun and staying open and receptive to my scene partners and reacting genuinely to the madness that was ensuing around me.
Q: You said that the real-life F-18 pilots weren’t shocked – did any of them actually divulge any details of their self-medicating to you?
PS: No, nobody would confirm anything, but nobody was saying this is not real. I’m trying to be tender – not offending anybody or getting anybody too angry at us, but I don’t believe this departs too far from real life.
Q: Is it realistic that someone of your height would be a pilot?
PS: Well, actually that’s researched thoroughly. I’m six foot four and three quarters and the maximum height for a fighter pilot is six five.
Q: Did they actually manage to get you in a little cockpit? Was that bit real?
PS: Yes, we had a cockpit, a third of a fuselage of an F-18 set up on a soundstage in front of a green screen.The only thing that would be better is if I could actually fly it. I actually started to work towards my pilot’s license.For Cessnas, which are prop planes, obviously, jets are a whole another deal. But I did my first lesson and the instructor let me fly the whole thing. He did all the radio calls, which I would never have known how to do, but he basically talked me through take-off, flying, and landing the plane completely by myself – he never touched the controls.
Q: Does your character have any real interaction with Tim and Jack’s characters? You don’t crossover with Jack and Tim into anything?
PS: Nothing at all.I think Tim patches himself into the cockpit and we have a brief little phone conversation in episode ten.But other than that, nothing.
Q: Would you say that this sort of satire has been lacking from our screens in recent years?
PS: Absolutely. I think the 60s and 70s were a great breeding ground for satire, satire was part of the cultural conversation, it’s how we engaged our issues. I think that’s been lacking.
Q: Do you find it’s important to mix it up between humour and heavier stuff, in terms of your work?
PS: Mixing it up between humour and heavier stuff hasn’t been a real focus of mine, solely because up until this point in my career I haven’t been presented with many comedic opportunities. The world of comedy wasn’t really open to me until I did Pornstache, so now I’m just kind of having fun playing in that world.
But the idea of mixing it up in general has always been a huge priority for me – one of my main goals as an actor is to do something radically different from what I did last. Try to keep people off balance.I never want people to feel like they know what to expect from me. I don’t want people to feel comfortable with who I am or what I do. I’d like them to always be off balance where my career is concerned.
Q: What’s it like working with Tim as a director?
PS: It was great. He’s a hyper intelligent dude who, I think, makes really good, solid decisions about script and guides with an even keel and doesn’t get flustered or, or off of his center, which is a nice quality in a director.He doesn’t give a lot of feedback, which is interesting. He’s very cerebral in his directions, but not super communicative, so you kind of figure out what it is that he wants and try to give it to him.