Rosie Perez praises AppleTV+ crime thriller 'Now & Then' breaking 'insulting' Hollywood pattern of Latino characters

·7 min read

Rosie Perez steps into the shoes of a police detective in the new Apple TV+ bilingual Miami-based crime thriller Now & Then, praising the show for moving away from the "insulting" way Hollywood portrays Latino characters.

Now & Then follows five friends from university who, 20 years later, are haunted by the death of their friend Alejandro (Jorge López), after a night of partying on the beach went terribly wrong. Perez’s character, Flora, was a relatively new police detective at the time, working on the case alongside her more experienced partner Sullivan “Sully” (Zeljko Ivanek).

Two decades later, Flora is now the experienced one in the department, Sully has since retired, and when a possible new link to this previously unsolved death comes up, Flora is determined to get to the bottom of it, even as she battles health concerns.

This new show has quickly been praised for casting actors and creating characters from diverse nationalities, with Now & Then having both English and Spanish dialogue. Beyond that, each character comes to the table with their own regional dialect, whether from, for example, Mexico, Colombia or Argentina, which adds immense authenticity to the story.

“In Hollywood a lot of the time, they all lump us into one type of Latino character and it's their idea of a Latino character, and it's insulting,” Perez said. “You keep telling them, listen I'm not Mexican, I’m Puerto Rican, I’m not Colombian, I’m Puerto Rican … and so for this to happen is fantastic.”

“When we took the cast picture, I whispered in one of the Apple TV+ executive’s ear and I said, ‘thank you.’ I've been waiting for something like this for a long time … The different nationalities, the different dialects have nothing to do with the story, and that's what's so brilliant, they just happen to be in the story.”

Rosie Perez in “Now & Then,” premiering globally May 20, 2022 on Apple TV+.
Rosie Perez in “Now & Then,” premiering globally May 20, 2022 on Apple TV+.

For director Gideon Raff, it was a “gift” to be supported to tell a story that organically explores cultures in a “multilayered way.”

“It was something that was very important,….to be very credible in terms of the dialects, in terms of casting the people from actually the right countries,” Raff told Yahoo Canada.

“I had the opportunity to understand the differences even in the way they talk,...between a Colombian dialect and an Argentinian one, and even the region within Colombia or in Cuba or in Chile. So for me these things that were a little unknown in the beginning, I dived into that and got to learn a lot about it, and I'm very thankful for it.”

Alicia Jaziz, Jack Duarte, Miranda de la Serna, Dario Yazbek Bernal, Alicia Sanz and Jorge López in “Now & Then,” premiering globally May 20, 2022 on Apple TV+.
Alicia Jaziz, Jack Duarte, Miranda de la Serna, Dario Yazbek Bernal, Alicia Sanz and Jorge López in “Now & Then,” premiering globally May 20, 2022 on Apple TV+.

'I'm not interested in playing her if it's just going to be a procedural type of role'

While both ensembles, playing the younger group of friends and their older versions, give captivating, emotional and gut-wrenching performances, Rosie Perez truly shines. Yes, we’ve seen many characters in law enforcement, a television staple, but we’ve haven’t seen one like Flora, that’s so dynamic and layered, much of which came from Perez herself.

The actor revealed that she was particularly involved in the development of Flora, including what she physically looks like, wanting Flora to wear baggier clothes and have undone hair when she’s older, for example. Perez was also heavily involved in developing the character’s backstory.

“Initially, Flora didn't have a backstory and I told Gideon Raff and Ramón Campos, I love this but I'm not interested in playing her if it's just going to be a procedural type of role, that's boring to me, I've seen it before,” Perez said.

Željko Ivanek and Rosie Perez in “Now & Then,” premiering globally May 20, 2022 on Apple TV+.
Željko Ivanek and Rosie Perez in “Now & Then,” premiering globally May 20, 2022 on Apple TV+.

The actor’s daughter-in-law is actually a sergeant detective and her cousin is a retired police officer, so Perez proposed some ideas to the writer and director, who then came back with a character that would allow her to really “sink her teeth in.”

“Guess what they both have in common? They're human beings,” Perez said. “They are badass women who don't take any crap from anybody and won't get pushed around, but they also cry and they have feelings, and they worry about cases and they cry about cases,...they create a family dynamic with their fellow officers.”

“I said, I want to bring all of that into her and I don't want to talk in a monotone voice, which drives me crazy. I don't know why people do that when they play detectives… They're just people who are really good at their jobs, and who care so much for what they do, because being in police enforcement is not easy. Your life is on the line every single day.”

There is actually a line in the show that Perez got from her daughter-in-law. Younger Flora is asked to go look at the deceased person and she says “I don’t do dead bodies.”

“I asked Gideon, I said, ‘can I put that in?’ He goes, ‘that's hilarious,’" Perez revealed.

Marina de Tavira, José María Yazpik and Eduardo Noriega in “Now & Then,” premiering globally May 20, 2022 on Apple TV+.
Marina de Tavira, José María Yazpik and Eduardo Noriega in “Now & Then,” premiering globally May 20, 2022 on Apple TV+.

'Not the kind of glitzy South Beach, Miami Beach stuff that we're used to seeing'

For anyone who knows Gideon Raff’s work, you’ll know that most of the time, he’s only working on projects that he created or wrote, including Homeland, Dig and The Red Sea Diving Resort, so there had to be something special for him to take on Now & Then.

“I usually only direct stuff that I've created and here, Apple sent me the first two scripts, and I read them and I found myself really taken by them,” Raff said.

“I wasn't only on the edge of my seat, wanting to know who done it, but also, I got really attached to the characters and this notion of how we see the world when we're 20, as opposed to how we see the world when we're older.”

Set in Miami, the city is almost like its own character, with the story so closely connected to its location.

“It's such a multinational, multicultural cultural show, it's the place where people from all around the Latin world come and it was just an organic place to have these people meet at university,” Raff said.

“When we started exploring the city and scouting, we were looking at the neighbourhoods that would be the real neighbourhoods where people really live, where they really work, where they really go for their coffee, not the kind of glitzy South Beach, Miami Beach stuff that we're used to seeing.”

While some crime-related dramas are criticized for showing their hand too early, that isn’t the case for Now & Then. The emphasis of the story is very much on the surprises, the twists and turns in the story, to keep you on your toes.

“It all starts with the script that Ramón [Campos] and Gema [R. Neira] wrote, it's the genius of the writing, and then add to that this spectacular cast that we had, that with a look could convey that they're hiding a massive secret, even between husband and wife and between ex-lovers,” Raff said.

“The show is so much [about] these secrets and lies that we tell each other, and ourselves.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting