'Logan' Actor Al Coronel Talks Behind The Scenes Of Top Secret Production

Al Coronel Logan Movie 

LOGAN, starring Hugh Jackman, is a bonafide hit at the box office and with the critics which came as a surprise for many. The previous Wolverine movies were a mixed bag, so director James Mangold went to great lenghts to keep the last Wolverine production top secret.  The making of LOGAN was surrounded in so much secrecy, even the cast and crew were in the dark. LOGAN actor Al Coronel gives us insight his time on set and his experience working with Mangold and the Aussie actor.

In LOGAN, Al Coronel plays a Mexican Federale named Commander Ruiz. Logan (Jackman), aka Wolverine, is on the loose in Mexico, and Commander Ruiz’s unit is tasked in locating and capturing Logan with the assistance of a covert government agency.

It comes to no surprise to Coronel he was cast as a law enforcement character.  Al Coronel (THE LAST SHIP, TRAINING DAY) says he’s often cast as military, law enforcement or agents. The Los Angeles-born actor attributes playing authoritative figures to his military background.

“Part of it has to do with the way I carry myself as a result of my military experience. My family said when I got back I stood a little more taller and I just had a more grounded and serious way about me. People tend to pick up on that, and it does serve me well as far as acting.”    

Shooting LOGAN for Coronel was a unique experience in that the casting and production details were shrouded in secrecy. Coronel tells CineMovie he went in for a casting call only knowing it was for a Marvel project, but nothing else. When he was officially cast is when he was told it was for LOGAN. Then came the contracts which forbid him from discussing or revealing any details of the movie.

“The amount of non-disclosures I had to sign was far more than anything I had done in the past, but I was so happy to do so because I knew what was going to be a part of this.”

When the Latino actor arrived on set in Albuquerque to shoot LOGAN, he was only provided with his sides, but other character’s dialogue in the scene were redacted. He says he never saw a full script.  

“Blocks of dialogue were completely blocked out where I had to make heads or tails of what was going on. In many cases, we weren’t given information until the day we were going to shoot it.”

At the end of the day, crew collected the actors sides to avoid leaks, but that didn’t last long. He recalls the day the media got wind of their location, and the next day helicopters hovered and curious fans came to the location. He’s never seen anything like it.

The Latino actor was also taken aback by Hugh Jackman’s non-movie star attitude on set.

“The first day on set, he walked up and greeted me with a hug and said, ‘Welcome to the team.’  He wasn’t the kind…and I’ve seen this on set.. he wasn’t this kind of megastar where if he’s not filming he’s off in his own tent. ‘Don’t bother me. Don’t talk to me.’  He was sitting with us, talking with us, even though he had all these things going on all around us. He was always very approachable.”

Coronel got to know the Aussie actor on a personal level by meeting his children and wife who were on the set for the entire production. He’s was lucky enough to work out with the Wolverine in the gym.

Logan Hugh Jackman James Mangold on set

The forty-something actor also called director James Mangold “gracious” who shared stories at the end of the day. The LOGAN actor is a fan of his previous work in the Wolverine movies, 3:10 TO YUMA and WALK THE LINE. While he got to know the American director on a personal level, Coronel did get some flack on set.

“He’s very real, and he expected you to come in ready to go. He yelled at me once or twice for not jumping in at the right time with certain dialogue.”

To play the role of a Mexican federale, the Latino actor borrowed his Colombian father and Guatemalan mother’s accent but his parents weren't happy about it. “‘I don’t talk like that,’” Coronel imitates his parents.  “Yes, you do.”

Coronel says that’s an old actor’s trick. Billy Crystal used his Orthodox Jewish grandparent’s accent for some of his breakout characters.  

“Family is a great educator for things to pull from when you have to do accents and things,” says Coronel.    

Coronel was able to use his bilingual skills in LOGAN, and for that he’s proud to represent Latinos on the big screen.

Next up, he’ll have a two-episode arc on the television show, TRAINING DAY with the recently deceased Bill Paxton. He was shocked to hear of Paxton’s passing, and he initially thought it was an internet hoax. He had the opportunity to work with Bill Paxton for TRAINING DAY, and he echoes everyone’s sentiment that he was a very “nice guy.” This was his second encounter with Paxton, having met him years ago through his acting coach who also mentored Paxton.

Coronel reveals Paxton wrapped the first season of TRAINING DAY, so he's curious to see how the staff works his death into the storyline if there is a season two.

Coronel ventured into acting later than most. While in the military, he picked up salsa dancing and joined a dance company that took him around the world to competitions and mentoring other dancers as a teacher. The Latin rhythms are engrained in him thanks to his parents who listened to salsa music in their household.

Coronel actually got his start as a salsa dancer in BLOW (2001) starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz. From that point on, he’s booked character actor roles, mostly playing officers and agents in over 50 television and movie projects such as THE LAST SHIP, NOTORIOUS, SECRETS AND LIES just to name a few.

Having been at the Hollywood game since 2001, is he discouraged by continuously playing character actors versus the lead?

“It is a game of perseverance and consistency,” says Coronel. “Denzel Washington said it best. ‘If you want to succeed in this, you have to be persistent.  You have more failures than you have successes. Look beyond those failures and perfect your craft.’”

He’s in it for the artistry and passion, but he realizes there are no guarantees except that there will be failures. He's often asked to give advice about acting, and he found some people are making a career choice out for the wrong reason. “Fame and fortune are not a good motivation for acting,” he tells CineMovie.

Those are some good rules to live by. Catch Coronel in LOGAN, now playing in movie theaters, and upcoming episodes of TRAINING DAY on CBS.

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