‘Shadowhunters’ – Alberto Rosende Interview on Being Part of the World of ‘Mortal Instruments’

Alberto Rosende in Shadowhunters
Alberto Rosende as Simon Lewis in ‘Shadowhunters’ (ABC Family/Vu Ong)

Albert Rosende stars in Freeform’s new fantasy series, Shadowhunters, based on the bestselling The Mortal Instruments young adult book series by Cassandra Clare. The role marks Rosende’s first big gig since graduating college in 2014. He was cast as Simon in the series in May 2015, with Shadowhunters his first series regular role and only his third professional acting credit after working on the short film, The Swing of Things, and an episode of Blue Bloods. Catching up with Rosende at the Television Critics Association’s 2016 winter press event in Los Angeles, it was evident he prepared well for his role as Simon in the series debuting on January 12, 2016 at 9pm ET/PT.

Alberto Rosende Interview:

Was Simon the role you were originally auditioned for?

Alberto Rosende: “Simon was the only role I ever went out for and after reading it I can see why. I felt like he was the only one I really connected with after reading the books. I wanted to be a Jace but I knew that that wasn’t who I am. Where with Simon it was very close to who I am.”

What was it that you related to?

Alberto Rosende: “I think his sense of understanding and the way he knows he has a role to play in Clary’s life and he wants to be a bigger role but he knows where he can be. That understanding of knowing where you should be, of knowing your place but also wanting more, I felt like that was something I could feel with Simon. I like where I am but I always want to be farther, I guess.”

And wearing the glasses?

Alberto Rosende: “Oh yeah. That’s actually the one thing for me that made me the most in character was when I put my glasses on. We had to pick – they gave us like 40 frames that we all looked at until we found the exact ones.”

What spoke to you about the frames you selected?

Alberto Rosende: “I don’t know but I felt very much like Harry Potter when he gets his wand. Like, I picked up my glasses and I was like, ‘I like these.’ Everyone was like, ‘Yeah!’ I put them on and that was it. Those were the ones.”

After the pilot episode do you have a lot more scenes with Jace now that he revealed himself to you?

Alberto Rosende: “If it were up to Simon he wouldn’t have any scenes with Jace, but I have a few. There’s definitely a relationship that starts to grow because they’re both constantly around the one person they want to be around, and that’s Clary. They both want that so much they keep bumping into each other, whether or not they want to.”

Oce you were cast, did the fans reach out to you?

Alberto Rosende: “Oh yeah. That was something I don’t think I really understood, the amount of love the fandom has and the support they’re willing to give because as soon as I was announced at like 11am on May 1st, my phone blew up the whole day. I had to turn it off because I couldn’t look at anything else because it kept doing notifications. By the end of the day I went from having 200 followers on my Twitter and Instagram to having 10,000 in just a day. It was something that was just mind-blowing to me.

I check pretty much everything but I don’t answer a lot because there’s still a sense of anxiety. I know that now when I post something 80,000 people see it and it’s not just my 200 friends from college that I’ve known for a long time. But I do read most of my comments and I do check that stuff out.”

Do you have a hard time keeping up with the mythology of the series?

Alberto Rosende: “No. I read all six of the books before we started shooting the fourth episode so I was already really invested in the mythology. Also Simon as a character, he just loves these types of worlds. He plays Dungeons and Dragons, he’s a huge Star Wars fan. So the mythology and the extraneous characters are something that he very much enjoys. So for him, while this is all scary and he hates that his best friend is having to go through all this world that’s truly dangerous, there’s a part of him that loves it because all of his fanboy things that he’s learning are true. Werewolves and vampires are true. These things called Shadowhunters that have really badass seraph blades that look like light sabers, they all exist and for him that’s kind of exciting.”

Did you meet Cassandra Clare after reading the books?

Alberto Rosende: “I did. I did, and I’m not going to lie: I geeked out a little bit.”

What did you ask her?

Alberto Rosende: “To be honest, I don’t think that I asked her anything. I know that we were on set the first time I met her. We were doing a scene, so I saw her come on set and after we finished I went over and said hi and gave her a hug, asked her how she was. That was it. I didn’t really have any questions. I was just more in awe. The Mortal Instruments was the first book series I ever read in its entirety and to meet the author of that was like, ‘Wow, this is pretty big.’”

Did you watch the movie?

Alberto Rosende: “I waited until after we’d finished shooting to watch the movie. I didn’t see all of it, which is weird. I was going to watch it but then my brother was in town and I had to leave with him so I only watched the first hour and a half.”

So did you feel like having a whole season to do the story was much more luxurious than they had for the film?

Alberto Rosende: “Absolutely. I mean, reading the book and knowing that they did a movie I didn’t understand it, knowing that there’s so much information that Cassandra Clare manages to pack into 550 pages. I didn’t know how they could do it in an hour and a half or two hours, however long the film was. Reading it I was like, ‘How are they going to fit this in,’ because one thing the books do very well is that everything she tells you kind of has its own meaning, whether it’s revealed in the next chapter or five books later. It all kind of has a bunch of threads. I wasn’t sure how they were going to do that in the movie. But in the show we have the time. We have 13 hours, not two, to really get into these different threads and really learn about these different people to make sure that knots are beautifully woven and not just kind of rushed together.”

What was a scene from the books that you couldn’t wait to play?

Alberto Rosende: “One scene that I was really excited for was the first moment that Simon sees the Institute because I knew what that meant for Simon. Reading the books, you’re like, ‘Oh, that must be pretty cool but at the same time kind of scary and frightening,’ because in the world that he grew up living in it was kind of shattered to learn there was a bigger world that co-exists and anything can happen in. That was freaky. So, that scene was pretty cool, just to be in that place. And there a few more in the books that I hope come to fruition. Later on there’s a bunch of other stuff that I’m happy I got to play.”

Besides The Mortal Instruments books, what else do you geek out about?

Alberto Rosende: “I’m a good-size Star Wars fan. I’m not huge, but I do enjoy the films and I’ve seen them quite a few times. I play a lot of Call of Duty. I’m mostly Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops 2 online. I’ve been reading a lot of Kurt Vonnegut lately so that’s what I’ve been geeking out about. It’s amazing the way he writes and the way he weaves things into different books, too, different characters that come in. […]And then military things. My dad’s in the military so I’ve kind of always grown up around that.”

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