In February, CBS debuted its brand new police procedural crime drama Tommy, which stars legendary film and TV actress Edie Falco as Abigail "Tommy" Thomas — the first ever female chief of police for the LAPD. Starring alongside her is comedian-turned-actor, Vladimir Caamaño, who recently told PopCulture.com that Falco is "everything you expect her to be, and more."
"She has an amazing sense of humor," he told PopCulture.com exclusively about his co-star. "She's typically the first one to laugh, because she's an amazing listener, as you can see from her acting. So she gets jokes, immediately."
Falco's sharpened wit is something Caamaño says he "didn't see that coming" either. "When you're acting with someone of her caliber, you're just intimidated," he added. "It's almost like going up against — you think of guys like Anthony Hopkins, you get goosebumps thinking about them. So you don't expect people like that to have a sense of humor."
Caamaño continued: "It's odd, because we're human beings and we all like to laugh, but when people achieve such a level of success, you don't associate them with, 'Oh, that guy's got a funny bone.' It's the last thing you'd bring up."
In Tommy, Caamaño plays Abner Diaz, Tommy's driver and personal security detail. The pair have incredible chemistry on-screen, which may have a little something to do with the fact that in real life and in the show, both are native New Yorkers. Falco is originally from Brooklyn, but was raised on Long Island; Caamaño is from the Bronx, and their common hometown of New York City is certainly a unifying factor.
"When I'm on set, it's funny, because New York is such a context for so many stories. So when I'm on set, [Edie] typically ties her New York stories to her acting career. Where she worked at, where she lived at, where she was a waitress. And her first play, her first Broadway play, where she went for an audition, where she would go to eat," he said. "So I'll be like, 'Hey Edie, I played at this club, didn't you do a movie there?' And she's like, 'Yeah, I did it with De Niro.'"
He then went on to recount a "sweet" story of when Falco "surprised" him at one of his stand-up shows, anf how blown away he was at the gesture.
"I had a show at The Stand comedy club, and she came out with 12 people from the crew, on a whim. She completely surprised me," he said. "She showed up and it meant the world to me, to get that kind of rapport with her. Because it's one thing to work with somebody, but then when they go out of their way to go see you. She has a million things going on, [but] she came out, she stayed for the whole show, and she had a blast. She's a class act."
Caamaño's roots are in stand-up — fans can check out his hilarious set from Howie Mandel's Just for Laughs Gala here — but he has been honing his acting skills for years. The most interesting aspect of his portrayal of Diaz, however, is that he does an incredible job of playing the character much closer to the cuff than most comedians in his situation would deliver. Diaz is certainly not humorless, but he's also not desperate for laughs and doesn't spend every scene only delivering quips and one-liners. He is very much a fully fleshed out character with purpose.
"I just happen to think that, the character is meant to be likable, and I try to leverage his likability, to the best of my ability. And if that comes off as humor, then so be it, but the likability comes first. Then, being funny," Caamaño says, speaking on his approach ot the character. "I feel like they're two different things."0comments
He continued: "He's also a detective, so he's trying to get people on his side, to get information. So, when in doubt I lean on the likability, I kind of go, 'What's the best position for this guy, on the likability scale?' Because if he's too funny, then it can come off as he's trying to get too much attention. And if he's trying to be likable, it's almost like, 'Oh, he's just trying to fit in, here. He's trying to be a team player.' So I think when I did the role, I put funny aside, and I was like, 'I'm going to go for the endearing version, of this character.'"
Catch Vladimir Caamaño on Tommy, Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET. (9 p.m. CT) only on CBS!