Actress Stephanie Cayo stars in Force of Nature as Jess, an enthusiastic and duty driven cop who is trying her best to evacuate residents of an apartment complex during a Category 5 hurricane. The Puerto Rico set narrative features Emile Hirsch as Jess’ disillusioned and temporary partner Cardillo, with Mel Gibson starring as Ray, a retired detective who simply doesn’t want to leave his domicile.
With a talented filmmaker (Nona and Northfork director Michael Polish) at the helm, Force of Nature offers up its share of surprises during the narrative. Amidst a diverse ensemble Stephanie Cayo holds her own (William Catlett is also memorable as a resident with a huge animal problem). David Zayas (Dexter, Body Cam) is John the Baptist, a coldblooded criminal who is searching for priceless art in the apartment, with Kate Bosworth as Ray’s understandably concerned daughter.
During our Zoom interview, Cayo talked about how being a traveler by nature has informed her acting journey and why each day on Force of Nature was an enriching learning process.
It was refreshing to see the layers behind the Force of Nature narrative. Was that one reason why you wanted to be a part of the project?
The story was very entertaining. There was a lot of things happening. It was a fun script to read and I thought it had a good group of actors and my character, I just love her.
She’s this young, eager cop who wants to change her world and make the institution better. She believes in good work and doing things for the right reasons.
She’s a character that’s not based on her looks or a love story which is kind of cool. She fights back and she’s a strong little kid!
Can you talk about the physical challenges of doing Force of Nature?
Well yes, we were in this building this whole time and it was raining actually for real in Puerto Rico and we had rain added to that. We had a lot of wind with wind machines to recreate (the condition).
We had to be wet all the time and run around all wet which wasn’t hard because it was kind of hot outside. But then inside the set it was cold. It was not complicated for me, to be honest.
The complicated part was more of the fighting scenes because I decided to do all of my action scenes and then the shooting part was kind of stressful.
What did you learn from working with Emile Hirsch and Mel Gibson during the film?
It was so much fun to watch! It was just fun to play with both of them. They were generous and they were very kind to me and very respectful, which I appreciated.
Mel is a very serious actor. He knows all of his lines but he’s also this eternal kid where he likes to play with the scenes – sometimes he changes lines. We improvised, and he’s a very intense and strong actor which I adore. I was learning a lot of things.
And Emile, he’s very fun. He’s very light and he’s very creative. One day of filming felt like a month of learning. I was just playing with them as well – fighting back!
Can you talk about how you see singing and acting as one thing?
Thank you. I think that every human being is like a whole universe. We’re very complex but at the same time very simple. We’re very used to separating things because it is easier for us back in the time when we had to be aware of lions and we had to (put everything in a box).
I don’t know if I’m making myself clear, but that’s how fear started right? And stereotypes. In our brain, we have to stereotype everything because it’s easier to recognize. Then you start separating everything but for me you have to embrace it all.
That’s the way I was raised. I was raised singing and dancing and everything. It’s just a full universe and I don’t want to separate it. If I want to separate, I would just focus on one thing and make money out of that thing. I’ll just let it be, and I’ll let it take me where God wants to take me.
Basically I don’t like separating things and stereotyping everything.
My mini-review of Force of Nature is featured on Episode 119 of CinemAddicts:Become a Patron!
Since you’re fluent in at least two languages, do you find that is a gateway for you in exploring new cultures through traveling and acting?
Yes. I think acting has a lot to do with sociology and psychology. It’s kind of therapeutic. I’m a very curious person and I really like challenges. I grew up in Peru and I started acting when I was 9 years old and I really like people and I really like cultures.
I traveled to Colombia and I started working everywhere around Colombia and it was just awesome doing a series. I did some comedies and dramas. I love Colombia and I love the people.
Then I wanted another challenge and I went to Mexico. And I love Mexico and the people. I wanted more challenges and then I decided “Okay I’m going to Spain.”
Then I decided five years ago to go to Los Angeles. Why not act in English? (It’s very difficult) for me and for every Latin actor I think because all of your primal emotions and life experiences are attached to your original language. And to transfer that to a different language, you have to express yourself in different ways, there is different timing.
You are kind of of creating a new identity and you have to like that identity. You have to be honest – you have to find yourself there to be completely authentic. It’s not an easy thing to do at all – I don’t recommend it!! (laughs)
I’ve been through so much in five years. Sometimes you think this is too heavy – this is too complicated and you want to just go running. But I’m a girl with big dreams.
Do you see a bit of yourself in your Force of Nature character?
She’s very persistent. You always base your characters on all the things that you are or that you could be in different circumstances and situations. Yeah, that was my Puerto Rican cop!
Thank you for your time!