I got to know the Baldoni family last year. Emily Baldoni was in the movie Coherence, which I discovered at Fantastic Fest and it blew me away. It’s now available on VOD if you want to check out a mind-bending sci-fi with no special effects. At the festival, Emily was with her husband Justin Baldoni, an actor himself and producer with Wayfarer Entertainment.
Justin Baldoni now stars on this fall’s Jane the Virgin on The CW. He plays Raphael, a wealthy hotel impresario who had his sperm frozen before a cancer operation would leave him unable to conceive. When the last sample is accidentally inseminated into Jane (Gina Rodriguez) in a doctor’s office mishap, it throws Jane and Raphael together in an impossible situation. Add to that that Jane already loved Raphael from afar and Raphael is about to go through a divorce, and you can understand how Jane the Virgin was based on a telenovela.
Although I’d stayed in touch with the Baldonis periodically throughout the year, I saw them again at the CBS/CW/Showtime party for the Television Critics Association this summer. I said hi to Emily and this time I interviewed Justin about his role on the new CW series Jane the Virgin.
Showbiz Junkies: Jane the Virgin has such a crazy premise, but really a lot of heart. Was that important to you?
Justin Baldoni: “It’s so important. One of the things that I think is really needed in television now is heart. Heart is so important. That’s one of the things I love about this show. Reading the script and being in it was one thing, but when we watched it back and we saw what Jennie [Snyder] and Brad [Silberling] were able to do, I actually got really emotional at the end because I saw oh my God, there’s real love that’s infused into the show. And on top of that, the cast loves each other so much and you can feel it. You actually feel it when you watch it. It’s all made with love. It’s like that secret ingredient in your grandma’s food.”
But does Raphael know that Jane is really in love with him?
Justin Baldoni: “No, he actually doesn’t. Raphael realizes, when he goes to tell her that he’s the father, that they even knew each other. He recognized her before but he didn’t know from what, and then it was in that moment, when you watch the show you’ll see, that they realize that there was a little thing that was there in the past. That could hopefully possibly bud into something beautiful.”
It’s not in the past for her. She’s still crushing.
Justin Baldoni: “She is. Raphael is a little oblivious to that. He’s got a lot in his world and a lot going on.”
Do you think they’re people who might have ended up together had this crazy circumstance not happened to them?
Justin Baldoni: “I actually think that because of this circumstance, Raphael and Jane may end up together.”
If not, could she have still introduced herself to Raphael one day?
Justin Baldoni: “Truthfully, probably, I think the baby is the vehicle that’s allowing this to be sped up and happen because there are so many crazy things happening in Raphael’s life. It’s his first hotel so he’s never owned a hotel before. He’s got a lot of things with his dad that are coming up. He’s not happy. He’s trying to divorce his wife and he’s a cancer survivor. So all of these things are happening all at once, so it would make it hard for him to realize that Jane was that girl that he kissed a long time ago. So the baby in this crazy situation is actually allowing this possible true love to come to fruition.”
And because he’s going through a divorce we wouldn’t want things to happen too quickly. How much time in the first season do you think it will take for Raphael to finalize his divorce and move on?
Justin Baldoni: “You know what, I have no idea. They won’t tell me anything but I have a feeling it’ll take a little while. I don’t think it’s an instant thing because the truth is, he did love Petra. He really did and he was gonna try to make it work, but he didn’t realize that he couldn’t and he’s trying to scoot away. The baby is the most important thing. It’s his only chance at having a child and if Petra’s willing to raise it with him, then that’s what he’s going to do. He’s going to stick around.”
Would you look forward to working with a baby and a young child?
Justin Baldoni: “Oh my God, absolutely. I can’t even wait to see what Jennie and the writers come up with, because this could go three, four, five, six, seven years and it would still be as exciting. Imagine a baby in the middle of a telenovela. It’s incredible.”
Did you see the telenovela?
Justin Baldoni: “I’ve seen clips. You can see it on YouTube so I’ve kind of heard about storylines that potentially could happen from the original. Apparently, it was a huge success.”
How different was the Raphael character in the telenovela?
Justin Baldoni: “I don’t know, because it was in Spanish so I couldn’t understanding anything when I watched it.”
Did you go out for a number of pilots this year, or was Jane the Virgin the main one?
Justin Baldoni: “Actually, it was a very interesting situation. As you know, I have my production company and Wayfarer Entertainment is growing. We’re creating all this socially conscious, positive media and we decided to go out for a couple pilots. This was the second one and it just fit and worked perfectly. One thing led to another and here we are.”
Did the other pilot make it onto the air too?
Justin Baldoni: “Yes, it actually did. But I’m really happy that it was this one.”
This is totally right for you, but can you say what the other pilot was?
Justin Baldoni: “Ashley Tisdale is starring in it. It’s about a barbershop, [Buzzy’s.] It wasn’t right for me and it was so perfect for the guy that got it.”
What can you announce from Wayfarer?
Justin Baldoni: “Wayfarer, right now we’re developing and we’re getting ready to take out a whole bunch of really inspiring reality television that we think can make a difference in the world. So things that can inspire each of us to be better people. At Wayfarer we think that the world is ready for more positive content, for real stories and for things that inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. So there’s a few things.”
Could they be reality shows with people we’re familiar with, or are you finding new casts for reality shows?
Justin Baldoni: “It’s not the type of reality we’re used to. It’s the type of reality that connects with your heart, that really inspires you to be the best person that you can be and that’s what we’re focused on: inspiration and motivation, not in a hippie way but really doing something good with our art and with our talents. So we’re really excited about it so we’re really just growing and building. The success of My Last Days was just incredible. We’re very grateful.”
– By Fred Topel
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