By Bob Strauss
In the current comedy “Bad Moms,” Jay Hernandez plays Mila Kunis’ walking wish-fulfillment: her kids’ middle school’s hottest widower who’s the only person in the movie that thinks she’s a terrific parent, wants to cook her dinner and is an eager expert at oral sex.
It has not been unusual for the South San Gabriel native to play a dishy guy ever since Hernandez stole Kirsten Dunst’s heart in his first movie, “Crazy/Beautiful,” 15 years ago.
So ladies, are you ready for Diablo?
“I don’t think I’m a sex symbol in ‘Suicide Squad,’ ” Hernandez laughs about his criminal character, who has no hair anywhere on his head and is covered with tattoos that make him look like a Día de los Muertos spectre fresh out of San Quentin (and that’s not even considering his impressive, if hard to control, ability to blast fire from his body). “I guess if serial killers can find wives in jail, he might pass.”
In the DC Comics villains mash-up movie, Diablo is a member of the criminal squad tasked by the government with defending the world from greater threats — or else. But when the team’s psychos gleefully take baseball bats and boomerangs to their opponents, the haunted Diablo holds back, guilt-ridden to near paralysis over his violent street gang past and the horrible personal tragedy his flames were responsible for.
So, if you like damaged, sensitive types ...
“I’ve never played a character like that,” said Hernandez, 38, who saw some of his friends turn to crime while growing up. “To be able to use that unique history of me growing up in L.A. and being exposed to certain things, I thought it was really cool. In some ways, I’ve avoided playing characters like this because I didn’t want to perpetuate stereotypes, but I thought Diablo was an exception. There’s a lot of heart to this character. He has a lot of impact in the movie — [he] represents its idea of redemption.”
And looks like death warmed over burning coals. The tattoos — a combination of transfers, airbrush, paint and sealant — initially took five hours to apply each morning, which the makeup team eventually perfected down to a pleasant three. It was a mere 40 minutes to remove it all when the shooting wrapped.
“It was a pretty grueling schedule because I’d have a full day, but be the first one in hair and makeup and the last one out every day,” he says.
At least Hernandez never got burned, even though practical flamethrowers were often a part of Diablo’s CG-enhanced pyrotechnics.
One reason why the actor never went the crime route his character and some of his childhood friends did is that, well, someone thought he should be an actor. A talent manager named Howard Tyner randomly saw young Hernandez in an elevator, liked his look and gave him his business card.
“I wrote him off. I thought it was B.S. to be honest,” Hernandez recalls. “But my mother convinced me to call the guy three weeks later and we set up a meeting. My father was highly suspicious, but I gave it a shot, took some acting classes, started auditioning and I was horrible at it for a number of years.”
A lot of women are probably glad it all worked out. And some no doubt want to know if Hernandez has any real tattoos.
“Just a couple, but not like that!” he roars in regard to Diablo’s. “No, no! Face tattoos are a bad idea, man.”
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