Michael Cimino (no relation to the late director) is best known for a supporting turn in the Warner Bros. horror film “Annabelle Comes Home.” But with “Love, Victor,” debuting June 17 on Hulu, he takes the title role in the series, a small-screen extension of the “Love, Simon” universe. Compared with Nick Robinson’s Simon, who is gay, Victor is still trying to understand his sexual identity. He reaches out to Simon when he moves to Simon’s hometown, and the two begin a social media friendship.
How closely did you want to study “Love, Simon” or Nick’s performance in it for the general vibe and tone of your show, knowing your character Victor would be so different?
In preparation for this, I watched the movie [about] 16 more times. I just took his earnestness from that. Voiceover talent is so beyond and definitely watching the movie helped me set the tone for what to do. Nick did such a great job at it in the movie, so I took a lot from that, but also from our amazing directors really helped a lot too.
What did it mean for you that Victor and his family are Latinx?
The Latinx community is at a time when we’re not really in television all that much, and that makes it even more special to see ourselves on TV. That was so important to me. I’ve grown up in a family that’s really affectionate and everyone I really know is that way: When you see someone you hug and kiss them to greet them. And that’s something you see throughout the whole show — how affectionate and passionate we are. When I first got cast, they made it a point to sit down with me and let me give them my perspective on things, and luckily we have Latino writers and writers from all communities, but it was important to sit down and have a conversation about my experience growing up.
Still, there are moments where Victor is reserved with his family because he’s not fully open with them about who he is.
It’s easy to tell when Victor is covering. You see how far he’s reaching to try to make sure everything is OK from the very beginning. And you get how he can be inclined to be someone he’s not fully. Honestly I just think these conversations need to be had now more than ever. A lot of times people are scared to talk about this, especially with the way that the Latino community is very machismo. We need to look at each other and talk, and that’s important to me.
How much of yourself did you see in Victor?
Victor’s a fixer, and that’s something that I struggle with so much: I was always trying to fix every problem with my family or every problem with my friend group, and ultimately what that is, is you don’t want to fix your own problems in the moment. Outwardly you’re fixing something else so you don’t have to face the truth. And seeing that — and how far he comes with [understanding] that — was honestly very relatable to me.
The show is premiering at a time when everyone is social distancing, so people’s usual support systems may have been disrupted. How do you think that affects the message of the show?
The show’s scenes are heavily reliant on family and on friendship, and I think that is exponentially more important now than ever, especially with your family because there are so many people who have lost their jobs — one of my friends included — and had to go back home, maybe to a family that isn’t necessarily the most accepting of who they are. [It’s] an interesting time to try to make amends and try to show them who you are, and they have to accept you now more than ever because they’re stuck with you.
Is there anything you personally or the show as a whole is planning to do to help those who may not be in supportive environments right now?
For me personally, it’s trying to connect with the fans and talk to them via Instagram. If anyone reaches out and I feel like they have a unique story or have something that needs to be said to them, I definitely reach back out and talk to them. I think that’s ultimately the best that we can do right now. I’m trying my best to reach as many people as possible, that’s definitely a goal I have.
Things you didn’t know about Michael Cimino:
Hometown: Las Vegas
Career inspiration: Jake Gyllenhaal
Mood music: “It depends on the scene but it can be either really sad rock music or alternative R&B.”
Last show he binge-watched: “Ozark”
Hidden talent: Mechanical bull riding