In an exclusive interview Flickering Myth sat down with Leo Oliva to talk about his latest TV series Home Invasion releasing June 20th…
Welcome to Flickering Myth Leo! As a Cuban American in Miami, can you tell us about your early life?
I grew up in a normal Hispanic household in Miami, where my family were incredibly supportive, especially my grandparents. I vividly remember my grandmother telling me, “Vas a ser algo especial, also grande.” Which translates to, “You’re going to be something special, something big.” All I’ve done is try to make her words true, and I think I have. Growing up, I always looked for a creative outlet. If it wasn’t creating characters and worlds with my sketching, or creative writing, I would spend hours letting my imagination run wild playing my brother’s keyboard or watching movies. When I wasn’t sitting still, I’d be playing or competing at one thing or another. Like any young Cuban kid growing up in Miami, if you weren’t at the beach getting that nice canela (cinnamon) color tan, you were on the baseball diamond.
What inspired you to enter the world of entertainment?
I have always been creative and a performer, but things connected for me between 1994 and 1995, when Tom Hanks released, in consecutive order, six incredible movies which were all award-nominated or award-winning, A league of Their Own, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile and of course, Castaway in 2000. As an actor Tom Hanks can be anyone and do anything. I was inspired to take drama class in high school and soon realized the true power art has, in its ability to heal. After performing a five-minute pantomime on stage, that took us through a young adult’s struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, the class was engaged, emotional and ready to discuss their own experiences with the same issues. I knew then that I could do something special and help others if I stayed true in my intentions and honest in my work and pursued a life of storytelling.
Your latest TV series, Home Invasion, which you developed, produced and star in is releasing very soon. Can you tell us about the series?
Yes so, Home Invasion is a TV series that on the deeper side of things, explores the true layers of family dynamics. Specifically, the family you choose. The series tells the story of two out of practice thieves who embark on one last heist to pay off a debt. Upon breaking into the house of the ‘Family’, made up of a group of mismatched aliens struggling to portray the ideal American family, things start to go epically wrong. From a laser blasts to time travel and teleportation, the thieves are in for the ride of their lives as they struggle to learn to work together with the aliens and save the planet from total destruction by their AI Security Home System CASIE played by Morena Baccarin.
How did the project come about for you?
Off the back of the success of my first feature, The Shift – a medical drama about one 12-hour shift in an ER starring myself and Danny Glover, a friend reached out with a feature film and asked if I would like to play the lead role and produce it with the help of my producing partner Melanie DiPietro. After a fantastic table read with gut-busting laughter, we knew we had our next project. With his blessing, we brought on a brilliant writer, Corey Scott, and began the process of working the rough draft into a movie. As life would have it, during this time, the industry made a hard left and TV became our only option to get it made.
Can you tell us about your character?
So, I play Mick Pearson, a thief with a heart of gold. Having spent the last seven years in prison after taking the fall for his best friend for a robbery gone wrong, Mick returns to cash in on that debt. Using a little blackmail to enlist the lock picking skills of his best friend Tom, now the Assistant District Attorney, they make their way to what is supposed to be a simple heist. It turns out to be…out of this world. By the end, they realize the true meaning of friendship and rekindle their bond through a series of harrowing obstacles where instead of fighting one another, they fight for one another.
As an actor, what other movies, or TV shows, have you enjoyed being part of? Do you have a favorite character?
I’ve had the amazing opportunity to play a wide range of characters, from a police constable on I Love Dick, to a psychiatric patient on NCIA:LA. But of all the roles, I think the most fun I’ve had was playing Pena on The Last Ship. Over the course of my three-episode arc, I was able to incorporate some of my weapons training handling military assault rifles, athletics and fighting background in helping choreograph my fight sequences, and my Hispanic roots and honoring my Colombian friends with an authentic accent. It was a role where I was able to use the most of who I am, in someone I am not. Something I look for in all the roles I am offered to play.
What type of genre of TV show are you drawn to traditionally?
Traditionally, I am drawn to dramas. Anything with great acting, deep ethical questions, and honest revelation of the human condition gets my motor running. As an artist, I love exploring the reasons why we are the way we are, and how that is accepted, or not, by those around us. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ted Lasso, but I can sit watching shows and limited series like Mindhunter, Bosch, Bloodline, Ozark, and True Detective all day.
When you are not acting, what do you enjoy doing?
There’s nothing like living on the edge and experiencing new things for me. My competitive spirit has me learning how to race my car with the help of the PCA (Porsche Club of America). I’ve done several track days at Willow Springs, and it’s quickly become a new addiction. I’ve also recently learned how to surf and find a peaceful meditative quality to the ebb and flow of the ocean. When all else fails to keep me grounded, I take to the sky and travel. I’ve spent some time enjoying the many countries of Europe from England, to Italy and Germany, to name a few.
What can we expect to see you doing over the next few months?
With a few of my own projects like Abuelita’s Cuban Kitchen and 100% currently in development, I expect you might see some of them being green lit. Unless history doesn’t repeat itself and I find myself renewed for a season 2 of Home Invasion or playing another amazing character on another show. With so many new opportunities coming my way with roles being offered and new scripts lining my inbox, it’s becoming harder to choose what to do next. But it’s a challenge I openly welcome.