Raúl Esparza Reflects on His Law & Order: SVU Role – Exclusive

Theater aficionados know Raúl Esparza for his acclaimed stage performances, which have earned him four Tony nominations and a number of other prestigious awards. his webpage† But the role that has brought him the most public fame is on the small screen rather than on stage: from 2012 to 2018, he played prosecutor Rafael Barba in “Law and Order: SVU,” a role that brought him into the homes of millions of viewers a week, and since then he’s been back to the show for a few appearances (via IMDb

In his final TV appearance in Hulu’s true crime miniseries “Candy,” Esparza once again plays a lawyer with a powerful courtroom presence. But that’s where the similarities between the characters end: In “Candy,” Esparza’s character, Don Crowder, is a flamboyant, rambunctious lawyer with no criminal trial experience who defends himself Candy Montgomery, a Texas housewife accused in 1980 of having a friend. to have killed. In an exclusive interview with the List, Esparza reflected on the differences between the characters and what he admired in Barba.

Raúl Esparza had to work to keep Barba out of his role in Candy

Both “Law & Order: SVU” and “Candy” are built around dramatic courtroom scenes, and in both the character of Raúl Esparza is a lawyer at the center of the action. But the courtroom being such a familiar environment for Esparza was as much a challenge as it was an advantage. He was well aware that Don Crowder was not just a late 1970s Texan version of Rafael Barba, both professionally and in personality and background. While Barba is Harvard educated, intensely ambitious and coldly professional, Crowder is a flamboyant ex-footballer who blasts his way through Candy Montgomery’s defense. “He flew completely through the seat of his pants, and that was exciting. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride that he was in. It was great to play that in him,” Esparza said.

These differences also meant that he had to resist the temptation to go on autopilot when he walked into the courtroom in “Candy.” “Actually, I was worried that every aspect of Barba would creep in because you’re in a courtroom and Barba starts to show up… That character is in your DNA and you played him for almost seven years, and you keep coming back to him,” he said. he.

Raúl Esparza has come to know – and respect – Barba deeply

When you play the same character in an evolving series for more than six years, you get to know that character’s personality, values ​​and motivation. So over time, Raúl Esparza has come to know Rafael Barba deeply, and he understands what drives him. “Barba is slick, aggressive, extraordinarily brilliant, Harvard-educated, [and has a] huge chip on his shoulders,” Esparza explained. “He dresses the way he dresses because he dresses to intimidate and he has that deep relationship with Liv. He has an arrogance about him that comes from immense experience and intelligence and the ability to direct people’s words at them.”

In short, Barba doesn’t come across as a particularly nice person – and not particularly likeable at first. But Esparza has gotten to know him well enough to see the softer parts of his character. “I think it’s beautifully written because it’s written as a villain who just happens to have a really good heart,” he said.

“Candy” premiered on Hulu Monday, May 9 and kicked off a five-day event leading up to the finale on Friday, May 13.

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