Oscar Nuñez Discusses His Character From 'The Office'
Oscar Nuñez, who plays accountant Oscar Martinez, discusses with us the progression of his character and the day he found out a pretty significant change in the arc of his character's personal life. Plus, he takes a look back at some past roles, shares who he finds funny on television and ... reveals what Creed is really like.
Mike: When a show has been around for awhile you can go back and watch some of the episodes from the first or second season -- and The Simpsons is a good example -- where the characters are a lot different than they become in later episodes. But if you watch episodes of The Office from the first or second season, they are just as good as today's.
Oscar: Yeah, I think it helps that it was already a show [the British version] and it also helped, I think, that the main characters were so well thought out and fleshed out that we just got to hang back and just be office workers. And we got to slowly evolve as we got picked up for more and more shows.
There were twelve episodes done in the U.K. so these guys -- Steve (Carrell), Rainn (Wilson), John (Krasinski) and Jenna (Fischer) -- their characters were pretty much fleshed out. They still brought a lot to the characters, because they are a little different than the British ones, but the base ... the foundation was there for the characters.
Mike: You mentioned the other characters were fleshed out as the show went along. Your character, Oscar Martinez, has almost become the voice of reason on the show.
Oscar: Yeah, it's kind of fun playing the straight man.
Mike: With all of these absurd personalities on the show, Oscar has become a character viewers can relate with. The one who will tell Michael Scott when he can't do something.
Oscar: Yeah, him and Jim Halpert. But Jim is still kind of juvenile and young in a way and Martinez is just kind of "over it." You're right, you can divide the show with crazy characters and straight people.
Mike: Have you noticed any changes in the writing since Michael Schur and Greg Daniels left for [the new Amy Poehler show] Parks and Recreation?
Oscar: Nah, they're always around here. The come visit all the time.
Mike: So we haven't seen the last of Mose Schrute (Schur)?
Oscar: Yeah. And Paul Lieberstein's still here and the writers are still here. Paul Fieg is here; Greg Daniels is the show runner but when he left to go work on Amy's show ... Paul Fieg is always here looking over their shoulder, just making sure the ship is headed in the right direction.
Mike: Was Parks and Recreation originally going to be a spin-off of The Office? It seemed at first it was, then it wasn't and now it officially isn't. Was it ever supposed to be?
Oscar: I don't know, they played it very close to the vest. No one knew exactly what was going on. We knew it was a show ... every thing else was just speculation. I don't think it was ever going to be a spin-off.
Mike: You play a very grounded, voice of reason, type character. Your character is also gay. Do you feel any responsibility to that community with how you portray the character?
Oscar: I don't know, that's a good question. I don't think of it. That's not the first thing that struck me when I get a character like that. It's whatever the character is. So, if it's a gay character that's a homicidal maniac, then, what are you going to do? If it's a gay [character] who's the President of the United States, then that's the kind of guy he is. I think the sexuality of the character is maybe the fifth thing in his personality trait that you're thinking about.
Mike: I agree with you. But I think, for televisions standards, it's a nice representation of just a normal dude.
Oscar: It is (laughs), he's a bit of a prude. He's okay, but he's not really a cool guy. He's kind of a little bit of a square (laughs). But, he is pretty normal. You know, I was just playing a character and then they made him gay.
Mike: So that wasn't in the original description?
Oscar: No. I was just playing a character then in the middle of the first season or the second season they made him gay. Greg Daniels comes up to me and is like, "Hey, do you mind if we make your character gay?"
I'm like, "What are you talking about? I already saw the script, It's already done." I don't mind, I just think it's so funny he asked me after the fact.
Mike: I did read somewhere that at the end of [the episode where Michael outs Oscar], when Steve kissed you, that was improvised.
Oscar: Yeah. There is some improv for you.
Mike: You had a pretty memorable character on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Oscar: That was great. That was improv and it was amazing. I love that show and it was great to get that gig. It was great to play with Larry David ... because you can be on "Curb" and not have a scene with him and I had a scene with him. I got to meet Jeff Garlin ... yeah, it was great.
Mike: You played a parking lot attendant, right?
Oscar: Yeah. And the other parking lot attendant was Karen Maruyama who was one of my first teachers at the Groundlings.
Mike: When were you at the Groundlings?
Oscar: In the late 90's I was in the Sunday company for a year ... in 1998.
Mike: I spoke with Chris Parnell a few weeks ago and he went into great detail about the Groundlings.
Oscar: I know Chris! He's a funny guy! I love him on 30 Rock as the doctor, that's perfect for Chris. He has that scene with where he's waiting for some results and says, "I don't know how to say this but you have dia-be-ots?" (laughing). "oh, yeah, diabetes"
Mike: I think that might be the same episode where Dr. Spaceman tells Alec Baldwin to drop his pants and he gives him a shot in the arm.
Oscar: Yeah! (laughing)
Mike: So, is this documentary they are filming about Dunder Mifflin ever going to air?
Oscar: Never. Don't tell! It will be an ongoing documentary forever. You know, the fans have accepted it. My buddy told me years ago, "Look, the best thing on TV, you've got to see this. It's called The Office, it's on BBC2."
I'm like, "All right." So, I caught it in the middle [of it's run] and I'm like, "Why am I watching? Why does he want me to watch a documentary about a paper company?" I [later] watched it from the beginning and I was like, okay, I get it. And it was one of the best things on TV.
Mike: OK, I have to know: What's Creed Bratton like in real life? Is he anything like his character?
Oscar: Pretty darn close.
Mike: Are you being serious?
Oscar: He's not like that (laughs) but he's pretty close. You know, Creed was in the Grassroots. He was a real rock and roller; he partied with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin!
Mike: You just finished a table read, right?
Oscar: Yeah, it was written by B.J. Novak and it was hi-larious. Really funny episode we just read. A lot of laughs.
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at email@example.com or follow Mike on Twitter
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