The Knockturnal got the chance to sit down with J. R. Ramirez (Julio on Power) to discuss his character’s growth, his big episode that aired last Sunday, and all his future projects. SPOILERS AHEAD
You gave such an amazing performance Sunday night and it was just so heart wrenching to see what happened to Julio. How did you find out your character’s fate, were you approached beforehand or did you find out with the rest of the cast?
No they told me a few months in advance, I found out during the beginning of shooting season 4.
How shocked were you about what was going to happen to your character?
You know it’s the kind of thing where, you’re in a show where your days are numbered at any point. It’s Power, it can happen to anyone at any time. The fact that I was able to get those years out of it was a blessing. It was the kind of thing where at least I was really happy that Gary Lennon, which is such an amazing talent and writer for our show, was able to create such a heroic, amazing death for me, and really let this guy go out with everything he had. I could’ve just gotten a bullet to the back of my head, how a lot of people get on the show, so it was so great for Courtney [Kemp] and Gary to allow me to go out the way that they did. It’s been one of the most amazing journeys in my professional career. It’s been overwhelming and humbling and I’m beyond grateful for that.
Obviously Julio was such a likable character who was easy to root for, what was your favorite part about playing him.
I got lucky! We got some crazy fans and a lot of these characters get a lot of heat, so Julio is definitely one of the more likable ones on the show. One of my favorite things over these past 4 years was honestly being able to work with the cast that we had. They were endless professionals. Joseph Sikora, (I always talk about that guy because I did most of my stuff with him), I was just with him yesterday when we were in Houston and I said ‘Listen man, I’ve learned so much working with you and collaborating, it’s the best acting class I could’ve possibly had in my career’ We just collaborated so well, and honestly working with such amazing artists throughout these last four years has been a blessing.
Just to touch on story a bit, how do you feel about the plot choice to have such a loyal character like Julio face his demise through essentially a betrayal on the part of Dre?
I think they really directed a really beautiful job just proving this power struggle, the shift between Dre’s character and mine this year. Personally I feel like Julio was kind of weak, but it was the kind of thing where I understand why they did it. He was in over his head this year, and at the end of the day he just really wants to do right by the organization. He was trying to get his promotion, and he just wanted to take the right steps so he could keep moving up. His greatest strength is his greatest weakness, it’s what got him killed, it’s that blind loyalty that he has, even when I read it I was like “Really? You walked into a warehouse by yourself? What are you doing?’
A lot of us definitely felt that way!
But what can you do, you’ve got give it that justice. He just really wanted to trust Dre, I do think there was a part of Julio that realized he was shady and wasn’t sure about him, but he always gave everybody the benefit of the doubt. That’s what got him killed.
In what ways did you feel like Julio grew as a character the most from the first episode through last night?
I think he found his voice, he really found his voice throughout the years on how to step up and speak when he needed to speak. He learned a lot from Ghost in so many ways, and he really grew up. Even when Ghost shut him down the first episodes, season 3, as much as that hurt him he learned he needed to be very cautious out there and make the right moves. Tommy was really the only person who was gonna have his back at this point, and the guy’s a loose cannon so he just was way over his head at the end of the day. But he grew up a lot because of all the stuff that happened to him.
Do you like to keep up with fans on social media, and did you catch any reactions to the episode?
I definitely love Twitter because I’m able to interact with fans. It’s fun because we were traveling in Houston doing the press for Power and as of midnight once it aired, still to this day my phone has been going off like crazy. It’s just so humbling and amazing to hear how committed the fans were to not only the character but they are to the show. I couldn’t respond to everybody, it’s just thousands and thousands of fans that were reaching out and it’s just so humbling, and so generous, so heartwarming. I finally just sent a massive thing just thanking everybody. There was no way I was gonna be able to respond to them all so I sent them one big message really thanking them. I’m beyond touched and humbled by everyone’s take on my character and how believable everyone thought I was, which is one of the best things you can tell an artist.
I read that you called last night’s episode your favorite of the season. so I take it you appreciated how Julio made his exit?
Yeah it’s bittersweet, but the fact that they allowed me to pour my heart and soul into the last breaths of this character, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. And I’m a huge fan of Dennie Gordon, she’s such an amazing director, and I was very blessed to know that my last straw was going to be with somebody that was going to really look after me and protect me and had my best interest at hand. She did me justice, she really had my back and made sure through the entire day that I was comfortable and taken care of, it was the best way I could’ve gone out. Its bittersweet but it was my favorite episode of the season.
The death scene was heartbreaking and hard to watch. How do you recall preparing for that scene and the energy surrounding your last days on set?
I just left it all there. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career, and I don’t know if it was the throbbing pain in my right hand from breaking it that helped or what it was [laughs]. But it was a collaboration of being able to have such amazing artists on hand, the guy who killed me was such a pro. We had rehearsed weeks prior so I knew what I was stepping into. I felt so safe and taken care of that I was really able to just use everything I had. The emotionality of being able to be apart of something for so any years, and having this last run at it, I was able to use all that to put it out there. I was really happy with the final product.
What are you going to miss most about working on the show?
Those cold New York winters! [laughs] Yeah no not so much. Just working with our cast and crew. You know you build a family and honestly I’ve built some lifelong friendships with some of our castmates and I’m forever grateful for that. I’m just going to miss being with all the guys. Everyone’s a really tight family on the show, and it was bittersweet yesterday to say the least. I’ve known obviously for quite a few months, this happened a long time ago, but when it was coming around yesterday I was like, ‘ugh God’ it was hard to get through the day.
Last question looking towards the future, where can fans expect to see you next, any projects you’re allowed to talk about?
Actually there’s going to be an announcement made later on today! I’m currently working on another project and you guys will hear about it in a few hours. I’ve been holding secrets for so any months now that I’m just a wreck! [It was announced Monday that Ramirez will be joining the season 2 cast of the Netflix original series Jessica Jones]
Power airs Sundays on Starz