Chilean actor Nestor Cantillana knew he wanted a career in entertainment at age 8, when his actor-father brought him backstage during a play.
“People got naked together, smoked and drank coffee a lot,” he recalled through a translator in a recent phone interview. “They read the script and exercised together, laughed a lot. I thought, ‘That’s the job for me!’”
Now in his late 30s, the actor is starring in the Cinemax series “Profugos (The Fugitives),” about a group of would-be drug traffickers fleeing the law and a rival organization. Cantillana plays Vicente, a hesitant member of the gang.
“He’s a veterinarian—but he has strong ties with his mother and was forced to participate in the family business,” he said. Vicente’s mother, the actor added, is the head of a drug cartel. “His mother loves him but he wants her respect!”
Dubbed in English for the Southeast Asian region, “Profugos,” shot across Chile, is an original series produced by HBO Latin America.
“We’re very proud of this project,” Cantillana said. “[Executive producer] Pablo Larrain insisted that the show take place in Chile. The scenery is an extra character.”
The 13-episode first season created new challenges for the actor. “It’s my first action series,” he said. “Physically, it’s very demanding. I had to use weapons, which I’m not into at all.”
The company of “very talented actors” has been rewarding as well. “Though very different from each other, we managed to create this chemistry among us,” Cantillana noted. “We’re thinking of developing a project after this.”
A fan of Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert Downey Jr. and Al Pacino, Cantillana expressed enthusiasm for a grittier, second season.
“It’s always more entertaining to be the bad guy instead of the cop,” he said. “Next season, there will be twice as much action… [The show] has been very well-received wherever it’s shown!”
(The last two episodes will be aired at 10 tonight on Cinemax.)