Jaime Camil did not hesitate to play the ranchera legend Vicente Fernández in the Netflix bioseries The King, Vicente Fernandez. Mexican actor and singer, best known for his comedic roles in series like jane the virgin Y How poor so richhe approached the portrayal of the late cultural icon the same way he would any other project.
“If you let the weight and magnitude of Vicente Fernández rest on your shoulders, those of us who live from our emotions and from connecting with the public with our emotions, imagine if the first emotion I record for a role is fear or uncertainty, Well, I would be preparing myself for failure”, says Camil. Billboard Español in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
“I have been doing this for 27 years, and […] although the butterflies in your stomach never go away, you process them in another way, with desire, with impetus, with the desire to do things, to be on the set”, he says. “Instead of getting stage fright and running away, you process it like, ‘Wow, what a thrill, how cool is this going to be to do.'”
Produced by Caracol TV in Colombia, where it premiered on August 3 before hitting Netflix on September 14 for worldwide streaming, The King, Vicente Fernandez it was in development for more than two years, with the blessing of the late singer and his family. Fernández, in fact, appeared in a brief promotion for the series in April 2021 saying: “My story, my songs, my feelings and how much I love you, very soon on Netflix”, eight months before he died in December. at the age of 81 years.
Camilo, who told him Billboard who is a “very good friend” of two of Fernández’s sons, Alejandro and Gerardo, has in the past stressed that the family’s wishes were respected with his performance.
The 36-episode drama is currently among the top 10 most watched productions on Netflix in the US and several Latin American countries. It also reached #1 worldwide for non-English language content shortly after its debut. It follows the artist over several decades, in a non-linear fashion, from his humble origins in his hometown of Huentitán El Alto, in Jalisco, Mexico, to his rise to stardom. Fernández is played by four actors at different stages of his life: Kaled Acab as a child, Sebastián García as a teenager, Sebastián Dante as a young man and Camil as an adult.
To do this, Camil not only had to gain a little weight and let his sideburns and mustache grow, but also “see hours and hours and hours of unlimited images of Vicente in interviews” in search of the essence of Fernández, he recalls. “Then we did a lot of exercises of emotional connection and energetic connection with the other three Vicentes, with our acting coaches. So we were able to give it a homogeneity… [so] that people would eventually see not four different actors, but the same person at different ages.”
Likewise, the Mexican actor —who in the early 2000s released the albums To be with you Y One more time (this last one with two songs that they made BillboardHot Latin Songs chart), he had to learn to sing as close as possible to Fernández, whose anthems he performs in the series, including “Volver, Volver”, “Por tu maldito amor” and, of course, “El Rey. ” The soundtrack of the series, released by Caracol TV and Sony Music on August 3 in Colombia and on September 14 worldwide, includes 20 titles, 14 of them performed by Camil.
“Singing the songs was a very important challenge, because I took on the task of singing them in the original key in which Vicente recorded them,” says the actor, who explains that in the 70s and 80s the artists recorded two keys higher. “so that they shine more, as they say”, and then they would interpret them in a more comfortable tone in concerts. “That was a very nice challenge in the recording studio. The challenge was to find certain gestures or certain ways that he had to speak. That ended up being just the brush strokes of the character, or the icing on the cake, because the mix was connecting emotionally with the audience and portraying a human character.”
When asked what his favorite song by the man known as “El Charro de Huentitán” is, Camil says that answering that question is now “impossible” for him. “If I hadn’t been in this project and I was one more fan you asked, I would probably say ‘Volver, Volver’ or ‘El Rey’, the classics,” he says, admitting that Fernández’s was more the music of his parents. than theirs. “But having been part of such an intimate process that connected me in such a special, magical and profound way with Vicente Fernández, I can’t answer that.”
Throughout his career, Fernández recorded more than 100 albums and had 40 entries on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart, 26 of them in the Top 10 and six at No. 1. On Hot Latin Songs he had 65 entries in total. , including 20 Top 10 hits and a No. 1 (“El Último Beso” from 2009, which was in the lead for a week). She also holds the records for the most Hot Latin Songs entries for a Regional Mexican solo artist, with 65; most entries on Regional Mexican Albums for a solo artist at 54, and most No. 1s for a solo Regional Mexican artist on that same chart, at 17.
Regarding the legacy of “Chente” and what his preparation for this series left him, Camil highlights that Fernández “only put charro or mariachi music on the world map, because of his perseverance, his perseverance, his stubbornness,” says Camil.
“It was very determined, very honorable. When he gave you his word, he was not calm until he fulfilled it, ”adds the actor. “There are traits of his personality that I admire and with which I identify a lot. Just imagine! Vicente Fernández was to mariachi music what Elvis Presley was to rock ‘n’ roll”.