Yara Martinez is a gorgeous, up-and coming actress who’s put together a pretty impressive resume in a short period of time. Born in Puerto Rico to Cuban parents, Martinez grew up in Miami before coming out to LA. She practiced ballet for 10 years before shifting her focus to acting. She has appeared on hit shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, ER, The Unit and CSI: NY. She played Christian Slater’s wife in My Own Worst Enemy. Martinez also has a regular role on Southland and she has a new show that debut this month, Breakout Kings on A&E.

We had a chance to chat with Martinez, and she gave us the lowdown on Breakout Kings, working with super-villain Sean Bean, Christian Slater’s approach to television, the set of It’s Always Sunny and the differences between LA and Miami.

CS: So you have a new show that premiered this month, Breakout Kings. You want to tell me a bit about what the new show is about?

YM: Yeah. The show is about US Marshals that are looking for people who broke out of prison, and they team up with ex-cons to look for them so they can get an inside viewpoint. It’s from the same creators of Prison Break. I play the wife of one of the US Marshals, played by actor Laz Alonso. I’m pretty much the supportive wife, but at the same time I try to keep him grounded and back in reality because he’s pretty obsessed. I’m like his rock. I’m like his go-to for strength and emotional stability.

CS: Gotcha, and so is the show going to be pretty action packed?

YM: It’s very action packed. It’s definitely an action packed show. There’s humor in it, too. Since it’s from the creators of Prison Break there is definitely that action stuff, but there are little winks to it as well.

CS: That’s cool. Now you’re also on Southland and from what I understand your character’s kind of going to get a little bit of a push this season right?

YM: Yeah. The last episode I think is going to air soon. The character I play is the wife of Kevin Alejandro. He died, so I’ve been dealing with his death and also the fact that his partner has been living in our house and it gets a little muddy emotionally because we are both grieving the loss of someone that a lot of us really loved. That can cause confusion in emotions about how we feel about each other.

CS: Got it.

YM: So it definitely could influence that development.

CS: Now in 2007 you were in The Hitcher with Sean Bean. Now that dude always seems to play the bad guy. Whenever you see him pop up in a movie you’re like, uh-oh, this isn’t good. Is he like a big super villain in person as well or is he like totally different?

YM: Well, I actually didn’t get to hang out with him during The Hitcher, but the first job that I ever booked was a pilot opposite him. It’s funny because I thought the same thing. I thought, oh my god who is Sean Bean going to be? He’s so intense. And our first scene we had to shoot was like these two characters were getting to know each other. So we’re trying to figure each other out. Between takes we’re talking and he’s like, “so what have you done?” He does have that mysterious look and voice and I’m like, “oh this is my first job” (laughs), and he just looked at me. We actually ended up getting along really, really well and we worked really well together. I got to hang out with him a few times. It was interesting, with me he was really nice and a total gentlemen and a really cool. He’s definitely reserved. He’s not one of those people who’s in your face. But we did go out a few times and he definitely does what he wants.

I just remember this one incident at the Four Seasons, someone told him to put out his cigarette and he just didn’t understand why they would tell him to put out his cigarette. He was very nonchalant about it and he had this very cool discussion with the man about why he should put out his cigarette. But he was so chill about it, that by the end, he was pretty much done with it.

CS: (laughs)

YM: He’s like smoking the cigarette while he’s talking to the guy about why he shouldn’t be smoking the cigarette. And he’s like, “okay I’ll put it out,” but it was already out. He was already done. That was smooth.

CS: How did you first get in to acting?

YM: Well I used to study ballet when I was younger and I went to one of those camps when I was 12 and you need to take an acting class. When I took the acting class, I just immediately knew that was what I wanted to do. I had always wanted to be involved in the theatre, but it switched from ballet to acting when I was 12. I went to an all-girl private Catholic high school, but during the summers I would go to New York and study theatre. So I have always wanted to be in the theatre.

CS: What was it like playing Christian Slater’s wife? Was that guy super-suave in person?

YM: He was awesome! He was really, really sweet and it was like his first TV job so he was definitely really excited. It’s weird, because one of my favorite movies is Heathers (laughs), and True Romance. It was just so surreal to me that I was working with Christian Slater. And the fact that he is such a nice person and he doesn’t seem jaded at all… he took the whole cast out to dinner and was just very supportive of everyone in the whole project, very involved. He was involved in everything. He didn’t just go to his trailer and not hang out. He was part of everything. He was really nice to work with.

I would be in scenes with him and ask, “so how do you prepare? What’s the difference between preparing for movie and television? How do you prepare for the scene?” Because in television you need to be so much faster. And he just says, “oh I just read my lines. I just come here and see what the hell is going to happen.” I’m like, “oh that’s interesting.” (laughs)

CS: (laughs)

YM: Yeah. But in a weird way it makes sense because television is so fast that if you prepare too much, then you hit the set and they want something kind of totally different and you’re screwed. You prepared it one way, and then they want something totally different and it’s harder to adapt. You can kind of end up screwing yourself over. So it’s weird delicate balance of being prepared, but not too prepared.

CS: That’s interesting. I didn’t realize you had to be so loose and flexible because of the time frame.

YM: Yeah, well hearing it coming from him I was like “oh that makes sense,” not to get too prepared. I’m here working with Christian Slater and I want to be totally over-prepared. So I got what he meant. It seemed more real coming from him. I was like, “okay maybe I should chill out a little bit” (laughs)

CS: (laughs) So you also did a guest spot on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Is that set completely nutty to work on?

YM: Well, I’m actually really good friends with those guys. That was one of my first jobs, because it was after I got Faceless. It was really funny. I also did a pilot with them, Boldly Going Nowhere. It didn’t get picked up, but I worked with them. It’s just one of those things. It’s such a pleasure to be at work and laugh. I’ve done a few things, but when I’m on set with them I’m really trying to hold in my laughter. It’s so much fun. I’m like in awe of them. It wasn’t nutty. They know exactly what they’re doing and they’re very efficient, but there’s a lot of laughter. It’s not reckless, it’s just efficient humor.

CS: Focused and playful.

YM: They are really fun to hang out with whenever we all get together. It’s funny. I actually feel like in person, Kaitlin and Mary-Elizabeth are the funnier ones. They’re always the ones that make me laugh the hardest.

CS: Interesting.

YM: Yeah. This is obviously after we’ve had a few drinks. (laughs)

CS: (laughs) So you also have a recurring role on the NBC series Chase where you lure people into doing bank heists with you, is that a fun character to play?

YM: It is. I don’t think it’s recurring. I mean, they didn’t kill me, so I could go back, but as of right now, I just did that episode. It was really fun to play. I usually play the wife or something more tame, so to play someone that had to shoot people and run around and jump off a cliff was really fun and made me feel like a badass.

CS: That’s cool. Who are some other fun or interesting cool actors that you’ve worked with in the past?

YM: We already mentioned Sean and Christian. I like working a lot with Shawn Hatosy on Southland. Every time I work with him, he always brings something new to the table and keeps me on my toes. As an actor that’s really, really fun. And with television, you can get stuck in the routine of doing the same thing exactly the same way. So it’s really nice with him to have it be fresh every time. Then I also got to work with Edward James Olmos on CSI: New York. We were like the head of the Puerto Rican gang. He has this very intense – you know, it’s interesting, it’s the same thing with Sean Bean – it’s like when people don’t speak that much, they leave so much room to interpret who they are. That’s why I feel like they come across so mysterious and so intense, because they’re not in your face. I feel like both of them have that. You know what I mean?

CS: Yeah I gotcha. Last question: I know you grew up in Miami and you’re based in LA now, how do the two places compare? I’m from LA, and I’ve had friends tell me I’ve got to get down to Miami to have fun, but I’ve never been there and I’m just kind of curious how the two places compare.

YM: When are you going to Miami?

CS: I’m thinking about going in May.

YM: Okay it’s really, really hot (laughs). I feel like the best time to go to Miami is like December, January, February, because it’s not so hot. It’s weird, in Miami it rains a lot. The best thing I think to do in Miami is find a friend who has a boat – this is what my friends and I used to do – and you just go to a sandbar and you just spend the whole day out in the boat, listening to music, having some drinks, and hanging out with friends in the beautiful water. It’s the best part of Miami. Also the clubs, if you’re into that, are crazy. Way more fun than the ones here, that’s for sure. People actually dance and let loose.

CS: (laughs) Yeah, there’s a lot of stiffness, I know what you’re saying.

YM: Well it’s different because in Miami everyone definitely gets all glammed up and everyone checks each other out and they have all that BS that people have when you go to clubs. It’s the same thing here, but I feel like here no one ever lets loose. In Miami, it starts off like that, but by the end of it, you’ll be jumping on a sofa with your arms up in the air, having the best time with a bunch of people you don’t even know. Here everyone’s too busy in the staring contest.

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