It is almost considered unusual in modern Hollywood for an actor to take on roles in numerous innovative productions. Yet Oscar Torre is perhaps best known for doing just that: whether he is in the spotlight or just an ensemble cast member, he is praised for refreshing and unique takes on already compellingly written characters.
Oscar Torre was born in Miami. He is currently married to Chuti Tiu, an Asian-American actress of Chinese, Filipina and Spanish descent. Torre keeps his personal life private, and not much is known about his personal life outside of his marriage and his desire to tackle interesting, challenging roles in film and television.
His breakout television role occurred in 2007 when he was cast in the incredibly well-received American television drama, Cane, which chronicled the lives of a wealthy Cuban-American family who dealt with the rum and sugar cane business in South Florida. Although the show was praised by both critics and audiences alike, its run was short-lived: it was cancelled in May of 2008 largely in part due to the consequences of the 2007-2008 Hollywood writer’s strike.
But Cane’s early cancellation did nothing to deter Torre’s rising popularity in Hollywood. And his talent, which was showcased in the drama Cane, did not limit itself to serious roles. In 2007, he received glowing reviews for his hilarious performance in To Rob a Thief, a Spanish-language Lionsgate release which had the highest grossing opening weekend in history for a Spanish-language production. Earlier roles of Torre’s include a critically acclaimed performance in Libertad: The Dark Untold Story of Castro’s Cuba, his supporting role comedic performance in the HBO Film Larceny, and his starring role as Antonio D’Amico in the 1998 crime-thriller, The Versace Murder.
Other roles by Torre include: a guest appearance in the FOX television series Dollhouse, a guest appearance on the hit CBS show NCIS, as well as guest appearances on shows such as Cold Case and NICS; recent film credits include the role of Manuel De La Cruz in the 2011 film Magic City Memoirs, ‘Uncle Frank’ in the 2013 boxing film Counterpunch, and Roco Navaja in the 1999 thriller Suicide Blonde. His most recent roles include Officer Vasquez in the upcoming 2013 comedy The Hangover Part III and the role of Alejando in his directorial debut, the upcoming 2013 film Pretty Rosebud, which was written by and stars his wife, Chuti Tiu.
The Levity Ball was delighted when offered the opportunity to learn more from Mr. Torre himself.
Who or what inspired you to enter the world of acting, producing and directing?
“I kind of fell into it. I took drama as an elective in college, with no ambition of pursuing it as a career. I just needed 3 more credits to graduate and thought it would be an easy class. I quickly fell in love with acting but didn’t tell anyone for fear of being ridiculed. Luckily, my family was very encouraging and supportive once I decided to pursue it as a career, although they thought I was a little crazy.”
Who were your heroes when you were young?
“My dream was to be a baseball player and my hero was Johnny Bench, star catcher of the Cincinnati Reds.”
Which has been your favorite character that you have performed?
I’ve had a few favorite roles, for different reasons.
-Jimenez Morales, feature film “Libertad” (Freedom.) It was my first lead role. I played a man wrongly imprisoned in Cuba. To me, it was very personal film, because my grandfather had spent 11 years as a political prisoner in Cuba.
-Santo, TV series “Cane” He was a killer with a good heart who was Alex Vega’s (Jimmy Smits) right hand man. The fans of the show responded positively towards my character and that was very gratifying.
–Miguelito, Lionsgate heist film “Ladron Que Roba A Ladron” I played an out of work actor recruited to be a thief. It was the comedic role in the film and I had a lot of fun playing him. It was also my first role in a Spanish speaking film.
–Uncle Frank, Lionsgate boxing film, “Counterpunch” A man who had been boxing champion of the world but was now broke. What attracted me most about the character was that he cared for his mother and was raising his troubled nephew as best as he could. The film is based on a true story and deals with mental illness and addiction.
What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?
“Last year I directed my first feature film (“Pretty Rosebud”), so I had already given this question a lot of thought. Among the directors I’ve enjoyed working with the most; all seemed to be very prepared, kept a level head and created an environment on the set where the actors felt like they couldn’t fail. I tried bringing all those elements to my set when directing.”
What has been your biggest achievement in the field of acting?
“I would honestly say: every role I’ve ever played, because I’ve learned from all of them. Some get more attention than others, bu t some of my favorite performances/achievements might have not been possible if I hadn’t played some of those other roles that no one has ever seen. Directing Pretty Rosebud does feel like a big achievement for me because I had never directed. I am very proud of the film and can’t wait to share it with an audience.”
What kind of roles and genres do you prefer?
“I enjoy both drama and comedy. I have to say that I don’t approach the materials too differently. I look to tell the truth and commit to my choices. When doing drama, I look for the humor and in comedy, I look for the drama. I think everyday life has a lot of both. It’s my job as an actor to find those moments.”
How do you feel about where you are in your career right now?
“I would be lying if I didn’t say that I want and expect more out of my career, but I am bles sed to have had so many opportunities. I have worked in great projects, with amazing people. I feel that I am constantly learning and improving and this will only lead to more interesting and exciting roles.”
What are you looking forward to accomplishing in the future?
“I would like to direct more. I enjoyed the experience of being in charge of telling the story. It felt incredibly creative and collaborative. I plan to continue to star in, direct, and produce films that I’m passionate about, though not necessarily all at the same time. I recently had the pleasure of acting in the film Hangover III and really enjoyed the freedom of shooting a big budget film. You have a lot more time to shoot a scene, as opposed to a lower budget film where you only have a few takes to get it right. I enjoy both for different reasons but hope to have the type of career where I can continually work in both.”
Some advice to people who want to follow your path; what are three things you should do and three things you should never do in this business?
1) Everyone’s journey is different, so don’t compare yourself to anyone.
2) Work on your craft, stay busy and don’t be afraid to take chances; the odds are against you, so why not?
3) Go out and shoot your own projects; make your own films. Don’t sit around waiting for someone to give you an opportunity.
Three things you should never do:
1) Don’t be disrespectful or difficult. The word gets around fast.
2) Don’t show up to work unprepared (not knowing your lines or showing up under the influence.) Again, the word gets around fast.
3) Don’t gossip. Once again, the word gets around fast.
“I’d like to end by saying: pursue your dreams with passion! You’ll never know how far you can get if you don’t try.”