Oscar Torre is living the dream. He’s a working actor.
TV audiences may have seen him in the Jimmy Smits-led drama Cane, playing a street-smart Cuban immigrant. He’s also guest starred in The Mentalist, CSI: Miami, Cold Case and NCIS. In 2013, Torre hung with the big-screen boys as a police chief in The Hangover III. And in just last month alone, the Miami native had two films playing in limited release, the crime thriller Eenie Meenie Miney Moe and his directorial debut, Pretty Rosebud, about a woman torn between being a good wife and a bad girl. The screenplay was written by wife, actress Chuti Tiu ( The Internship, TV’s Miami Medical, the upcoming Rampart).
We talked to Torre, who grew up in the Gables area and graduated from Brito Miami Private, about his recent success:
You have a lot of projects going on. Do you prefer acting to directing?
In a perfect world, I’d direct a film every couple of years and act the rest of the time. As a director you’re responsible for the entire project, not just your role. I really enjoy that. Seeing my vision come to life and know that I have a say from the colors of the walls to what the actors are wearing to where I place the camera to choosing a song. As an actor, I like to do a lot of research about the person I’m playing, learn as much as I can about his world and then make it mine.
I’m starring in and directing a short film that I wrote and my wife will play the other lead role called Man/Woman. I’m also starring in a film that I co-wrote, Lunarticking. It’s an emotional horror story, a mixture of The Shining and King of Comedy meets Office Space. The main character is about to turn 40 and feels like he hasn’t accomplished anything with his life.
How is L.A. vs. Miami?
Los Angeles is much bigger and traffic is worse, although Miami is pretty bad as well! Out west, everything seems to be far away; it’s a very big city. When I’m home seeing family, I love to drink my Cuban coffee at any time and in 15 minutes hear about everything that is going on.
How is working with your wife?
I knew I was getting an excellent actress, but I didn’t know how she would take directions from her husband. I joke with her that while on the set, it was the only time she’s ever listened to me! It was also great that she had written the script. Whenever I had any doubts about what she was trying to say in a scene, I could just wake her up in the middle of the night and ask her [laughs].
What advice would you give anyone who wants to get into showbiz?
Don’t wait for someone else to give you a job. Work on your craft, take classes, get involved in the theater, get together with some friends who are equally passionate, write your stories, pick up a camera and shoot your films. If you choose this career because you think it’s glamorous and you want to be rich and famous, then do something else.
Who are some of your favorite actors?
Growing up, I was a huge fan of Sylvester Stallone, especially from the first two Rocky films. It made me believe that if somebody like Rocky Balboa could end up being champion of the world, anything is possible. Later, it was definitely [Al] Pacino and [Robert] De Niro, their commitment. I’ve read their biographies a million times. When I’m feeling a little lazy, I read about their preparation, and it reminds me to push myself.
How was working on the “Hangover III”? A blast?
I had been a fan of the first two films; I never imagined that I would be part of it. Working with the guys was a lot of fun; they are so good in these roles. It wasn’t hard to believe the situation and just have fun while I was trying to intimidate them!