Salsa star Marc Anthony dishes on being Mr. J.Lo, resisting American Idol and joining HawthoRNe cast
As a musician, he's sold 30 million records worldwide and won two Grammy awards. As an actor he's worked for Martin Scorsese in Bringing Out the Dead and alongside Denzel Washington in Man on Fire.
And, he's also married to Jennifer Lopez, the new American Idol judge who People magazine crowned the most beautiful woman in the world.
So why exactly is Marc Anthony now playing a supporting character on TNT's Hawthorne — not only signing on to play detective Nick Renata through seven episodes this season, but serving as the show's executive music producer?
"It started with a conversation with Will and Jada, after I filmed two episodes last season," said Anthony, a longtime friend of series star Jada Pinkett Smith and her high-powered husband, action film star Will Smith. "I always felt like I had a seat at the creative table. I'm not an actor who wants to sing or a singer who wants to act; I've been able to do both, no? And once I heard the arc, I thought … I could have some fun with this."
This season's episodes kick off quickly when Pinkett Smith's headstrong chief nurse Christina Hawthorne is assaulted by a mystery attacker not long after her wedding to dashing surgeon Tom Wakefield (Michael Vartan).
Anthony's Renata, who carries a torch for Hawthorne, has to find the assailant while she fights for her life and the life of her unborn child.
As the show returns for its third season tonight, Anthony detailed everything from scoring a cable TV show to coaching singers on American Idol.
How did you wind up executive music producer?
"That was born from my fight that (this show) shouldn't sound like anything else. I said, 'We're going for it on every other level. Why don't we give it its musical identity?' They had no idea what I was talking about, so they gave me a title and said go for it. It turned my days from 16 hours to over 20. But I think we found the musical identity of the show."
"If you hear my music, all the intros are very dynamic; you have 15 seconds to set the mood for this story I'm about to tell. So we just created themes for scenarios, created themes for actors and situations, same way I would for any one of my songs. Just that kind of attention I thought was needed.
You appeared on American Idol telling the singers how to use their in-ear monitors. How did that happen?
I did not want to be on Idol. I saw something happening with the sound, I didn't like it, I called and said, 'Can I just address this?' All of a sudden they get pitchy when you give them the in-ear (monitors); I know exactly what's going on. They finally convinced me (to go on camera), but it just made me anxious to see these talented kids that I know were suffering for no reason whatsoever."
You've put together bands for many years. How is judging those musicians different than judging American Idol?
"You have to sit in that seat to know what it feels like. It is brutal. You're smack in the middle of this freight train; it moves with or without you. And knowing that what you might say might influence not only the person before you, but someone at home. You don't want to discourage that kid who is going to audition and win next year. You really feel that sense of responsibility."
A year ago, no one might have predicted you or you wife would be so involved in TV. Ever think about a series of your own? A Hawthorne spinoff?
"(laughs) Ah! Not just for giggles. But I was born a storyteller; in music, I could tell four-minute stories, 16 to 20 a night. I love interpreting, and this is just an extension of that; telling a story, just at a different pace. So who knows?"