Samantha Esteban stars in the new crime drama Harsh Times, which was featured at last year’s 30th annual Toronto International Film Festival and is currently out in theaters now. Samantha’s acting career already spans more than ten years including feature films like Training Day starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, and television, which includes a six-year role as Maria Lopez on the NBC Saturday morning show, Saved By The Bell: The New Class. I got to interview this talented 27-year-old actress about her life and love of acting.
Your newest feature film Harsh Times reunites you with David Ayer (screenwriter for Training Day). Did you have to tryout for the part or did David write the part with you in mind?
It was a last minute call. I don’t think he was aware I was coming in. The casting director called me and when I walked in the room, we both kind of looked at each other. It was a great reunion. I definitely felt more comfortable in this role.
Your character's name is "Letty", the same character name you had in Training Day. Is it the same character in her later years or just a coincidence?
BC: How do you react when people comment about your performance in Training Day, which was praised by critics and audiences?
Sometimes I’m really bashful. I feel good that it’s all been positive comments. It’s nice to hear from someone who related to the character. People really appreciate your work and the positive effects you might have had on their lives.
I’ve been in many different situations, people and cultures. I just take some things I’ve experienced and apply them to my character. If it’s something I have not been through, then I study and research as much as possible. I try to put myself in that person’s shoes.
Like maybe if you had to portray a law enforcement officer you would visit a police station and maybe observe and ride along with officers there?
I really haven’t had the chance to do something that elaborate yet, but I’ll have to keep that in mind for future roles (laughing).
Okay (laughing), glad I could help. Back to your current role in Harsh Times, how was the premiere?
The premiere was on November 7 in Westwood (California) at the Crest Theater. The film got a really good response in the theater. It was my first time seeing it as a whole work. It was really good. David Ayer is a smart director and writer who put everything together really well. Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriguez, and Eva Longoria were all so great to work with. This film is like David’s baby. He’s worked so hard and now it’s being born.
Yes, Harsh Times has gotten several positive responses already from critics and audiences. David Ayer also co-produced the film. How was your experience working with David again? Will you two collaborate on projects in the future? I believe he might do The Wild Bunch next.
Yeah, I heard something about that. Of course, I would love to work with him more. I’d be happy to.
I would love to work with Oliver Stone and Steven Spielberg. As far as actors, it would definitely be Ken Watanabe. He’s really talented. Any actor who can act without saying a word is amazing. Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro would be my other choices.
Do you still find time for your singing, dancing and/or modeling?
Dancing and modeling – I haven’t done in a while. I’ve done a few things with friends, just for friends. Just focusing on family right now.
Do you plan to continue your martial arts (tae kwon do, kickboxing)?
Yes, I’m going to go back after my daughter is born, but it is one thing that I’m sure will be last minute. I am very active by nature and will enjoy getting into the kickboxing again.
What are some of your future projects?
Right now I have been focusing on family. My daughter is 17 months old and I’m expecting my second child at the end of January. I’m enjoying it very much. Kids are very amazing. After my second child, a daughter, is born, I definitely plan to get back into the acting world. More feature films and independent films as well.
Do you prefer feature films over television?
I’d like to say I don’t have a preference. I guess television would be more stable. It would be easier to raise a family in a set schedule. In film, most of the time, you get to be much more creative. You have greater options with different characters. Being on location is a challenge too – something I’ll have to balance with having a family. I love acting and I do what I love, which means growing as a person and conquering any challenges.
Thanks Samantha Esteban! For more information on Harsh Times visit the film's official website (Samantha Esteban is featured at the beginning of the video). You can also check out Samantha’s MySpace page.