Adan Canto is no stranger to action. His portrayal as Paul Torres on The Following, one of America’s most watched series, is nothing short of unforgettable. Hailing from Mexico, Canto’s unique split-culture upbringing allowed him to create and understand unique characters. Now, Canto has joined a prolific fleet of actors amongst the cast of X-Men: Days Of Future Past, in which he will portray the solar superhero, Sunspot. In this interview, we delve deeper into Canto’s own past, his preparation for the role, and what’s unfolding in his future.
The Daily Quirk: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. We’re really interested in getting to know you a little better because we absolutely loved you on The Following.
Adan Canto: Thank you so much, it’s great to hear that.
TDQ: And now that you’re starring in X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is very exciting. But let’s start with how you got your start acting. How did that come about?
AC: As you probably know, it was kind of one thing happened right after the other. Fortunately everything just started moving as soon as I moved. I moved to Mexico City for five years after living in LA for about three. Lived there for about five years, started working as a musician again and music lead me to acting, or drama. That’s pretty much how I got into acting. I’d taken a few courses here and there and I’d always been interested in people. It’s something that has always piqued my curiosity. I try to really understand what goes on behind everybody’s eyes pretty much.
TDQ: You were a successful and accomplished actor in Mexico before taking on the role of Paul Torres in The Following. Can you tell us a bit that?
AC: I was raised half and half, completely bicultural. I went to school for 10 years of my life in Texas and then went to school in Mexico for about two and then went back to San Antonio and as a musician I had always been traveling around. The trunk of my car was basically my closet, it had all my shoes and clothes there and my guitar and I was working as a musician, singing at events from wedding to festivals and gatherings or parties, that’s how I’d make a living. And I was writing songs, in Texas for a couple producers I was working with there, did a little bit of that in Los Angeles as well before moving to Mexico City.
When I moved to Mexico City, it was mainly for music. There was a project they wanted me to work on that was very enticing, so I decided to go back. It was a great opportunity to put knowledge into practice. I started working in little things I could find here and there, always on the Independent Film side and eventually the theatre. On the television side, I never pursued that. I was mainly more passionate about the film and theatre.
TDQ: You’ll be playing mutant Roberto da Costa aka Sunspot in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Can you tell us a bit about how that role came about?
AC: When I was doing The Following -fortunately on a trip I made back to LA around that time- we were able to schedule a meeting with the casting director. That’s when we found out about that one character. I read for it, and afterwards we got together with production. Then, we were on it and it was a beautiful surprise. It was a great thing to jump in to.
In terms of Sunspot, honestly I didn’t know anything about him and he was never portrayed in films yet. I had followed the X-Men franchise and I was a huge fan of Bryan’s [Singer]. His language, the way he likes to portray is always great. Obviously jumping into the franchise was great. I found what comic books he was in and I read a lot about him. I just tried to get as much information about Sunspot so I could understand what kind of person he was; I wanted to be prepared for anything that would come my way once we started production.
TDQ: Was there a lot of physical preparation for the role?
AC: I am a runner already, I try to do it as frequently as possible and I just added a lot of swimming and cycling and tried to keep things outside of the gym, a lot of outdoors and physical activity. It definitely paid off once we were thrown in there, when I had to call on these powers and do my thing.
TDQ: You’re re-united with your The Following co-star, Shawn Ashmore, who plays Iceman in the film. What was it like working together again?
AC: Well we’re fighting on the same side and we actually got to work together. In The Following we never shared a scene together, which makes sense for the show. We did have a great time when I met him in New York, we immediately kicked it off and became buddies, but we didn’t see a lot of each other because we were working a lot. It wasn’t until Montreal that we shared a scene and spent some time off set as well.
TDQ: In addition to you and Shawn, the film also has an amazing large ensemble cast. What was it like filming with people who have been associated with the franchise for the many years?
AC: The production decided to make this huge dinner before shooting and we got to know everybody through a casual, more personal dinner. Just to get all that expectation and little bit of nervousness out of the way, because it does not help whatsoever. It absolutely can be overwhelming, all of a sudden working with actors of that caliber when you’re starting your career. It was so helpful to share a dinner and a gathering with all of these great people and see them off the set and understand what kind of people they are. And the next day when we were shooting was great, because we felt sheltered in a way.
TDQ: It’s nice to hear that a big production makes time for something like that.
AC: It’s a huge franchise and they definitely do that work. That’s something that I really loved, they just kept it at a different level, at a different place in your mind, you know? You still have that great responsibility, you’re this character and it’s a huge responsibility, a huge endeavor, but you have a sense of family underneath and you feel better, you just feel more relaxed as you go.
AC: The most memorable moment from the whole experience I have to say was something that happened off the set and it was very funny, and they made fun of me, because of my character’s ability to bring energy from the sun and fire. There was one day where I woke up to the fire alarm. I thought it was a drill, because we had had a drill just a few days before that, so I just put a pillow over my head, but then I heard people screaming. So I got out of bed I went to the door and I couldn’t see anything – just black smoke. Immediately I grabbed a robe and, for some reason I don’t understand, I grabbed a baseball cap. I just put it on. Left the room – we couldn’t see anything we just heard people directing us towards the exit. We didn’t grab any towels so we kind of just covered our mouths with the robes. At the end of the day everything was fine, but the room that caught fire was right next to us. That’s definitely a memorable experience I’ll never forget. And now every time I catch a little bit of smoke my heart rate goes up and I go into survival mode.
TDQ: That is so scary!
AC: Yeah, it was very, very scary. You get a little excited and an adrenaline rush. We actually tweeted something. It was Patrick Stewart, Booboo [Stewart] and Daniel Cudmore, and I was the only one in a cap and robe, and it was something like “Superheroes being saved by real heroes”.
TDQ: Can you give us five words to describe your character’s arc in the film?
AC: Well in this case I’d have to say: ACTION, ACTION, ACTION, ACTION… ACTION!
TDQ: Let’s talk a little bit about you. I know you talked about your music, can you tell us a little bit about your band and performing as a musician?
AC: When I started off, when I was very, very young I just thought I was going to be a singer. Today I look back and, I don’t know, I have a lot of fun doing what I do now and I would’ve missed out on a lot if that was all I would have done. Eventually I got into songwriting and producing, wrote some songs for TV shows and movies and some independent films, and that was an amazing experience for me. I was already involved in acting as well, and I had a lot of projects back then.
In terms of the singing, by the end of my stay in Mexico City, we got this band together and pretty much all we performed were jazz standards. Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, all that kind of stuff. There was this great little bar close to downtown Mexico City and for some reason it really worked out. It’s funny because you don’t think of Mexico City as a culture with American songs culture, but I’ve always loved that music. It’s very lively and happy and it’s full of true emotion at the same time. It worked out so well; it was pretty much like going back to that time while we did that two-hour performance ever Saturday. We had our regular fans that would come back and take little videos with their cell phones. Pretty much everything you can find of the band on YouTube is shot by people who went to the bar. We just kind of split up toward the end and a couple months after, I moved back to LA.
TDQ: You’ve definitely hit the ground running as far as your career and what you’re doing. How else do you like to spend your time when you’re not busy acting?
AC: I’m diving into other aspects of the whole ancestry as well right now. I’m getting into writing, I don’t want to say too much, but we’re working on something right now. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by amazing people that really believe in my vision of projects. Everybody just joined and shared their amazing talents. It’s so hard to tell you what I do when I’m not working because even the things that I do, I cycle a lot and take my road bike out for 25-30 miles and I start thinking, that’s like my way of coming up with new ideas.
TDQ: So it’s a creative process for you as well, getting out of the acting zone and using that time to fuel yourself up for the next project?
AC: Exactly, exactly. I do that a lot, riding and exercising. And a lot of road trips. I love road trips. I haven’t been on one in a few months, but I love to do my traveling, if I can, on the road. Instead of missing out by hopping on a flight, if I have the time, I’ll definitely just hop in the truck and go.
TDQ: What’s one thing that fans would be surprised to find out about you? You’re very honest and open, is there anything like a secret talent or something that’s surprising?
AC: When I was probably between 7 years old and my early teens, we would go to my grandfather’s ranch every other weekend and I pretty much did the whole thing, I was a cowboy. You know horseback riding, herding cattle, all that kind of stuff. I love it, it’s really nice. Every time I smell horse shit it reminds me of home.
TDQ: I only have one more question, we kind of like to end on something fun. If you could have a mutant power in real life, what would it be?
AC: It would have to involve powers of the mind. Kind of like a Professor X, I can’t quite figure out the right way to put it, but definitely powers of the mind.
The Daily Quirk would like to thank Adan Canto for taking the time to chat! To find out more about Canto, follow him on Twitter!