Struggling to truly realize and admit your genuine feelings for another person can be particularly difficult, especially when you’re strongly intent on maintaining certain aspects of your past hidden as you try to build a new life for yourself. This is one of the main obstacles Nicholas Deering, one of the new characters on Lifetime’s critically-acclaimed comedy-drama, ‘Devious Maids,’ which returned for a second season on Sunday, April 20, at 10PM ET/PT. Actor Mark Deklin, who joined the cast for the series’ current season, is poised to cleverly showcase the new character’s cunning nature as he integrates himself into the lives of the show’s versatile maids.
‘Devious Maids’ follows five maids, including Marisol (Ana Ortiz), Rosie (Dania Ramírez), Carmen (Roselyn Sánchez), Valentina (Edy Ganem) and Zoila (Judy Reyes), who are driven with ambition and dreams of their own while working for the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. The close-knit group of maids is bonded together by their jobs, life struggles and the melodramatic universe that engulfs their employers. But murder and mayhem soon collide in the mansions of the area’s wealthiest and most powerful families. Warfare quickly escalates between the two classes, when the staff becomes as clever, witty, outrageous and devilish as their employers.
The second season picks up after the revelation of Flora’s murderer, Rosie’s shocking arrest by immigration agents, the demise of Valentina and Zoila’s relationship and Carmen’s fake engagement. Beverly Hills is soon hit by a wave of criminal activity that leaves its residents in a vulnerable situation. While the neighborhood tries to continue with the new crime spree, Marisol engages in a new romance with Nicholas, but she soon learns there is more than meets the eye to her new lover. Zoila’s need to control everything begins taking a toll on her personal life, especially with Valentina, who is now working for a surprising new employer. Rosie’s immigration status is in question, while Carmen embraces her life in the limelight as the fiancée of a pop star.
‘Devious Maids’ is Lifetime’s fastest-growing scripted series ever, and is the number one series across cable in its Sunday time period among women. The show, which is inspired by the hit telenovela, ‘Ellas son…la Alegría del Hogar,’ is produced by ABC Studios. The series was launched by ‘Desperate Housewives’ creator Marc Cherry, who also serves as an executive producer on the show with one of the stars of his ABC Emmy Award-winning mystery-comedy-drama series, Eva Longoria.
Deklin generously took the time recently to talk about accepting the role of Nicholas on the second season of ‘Devious Maids’ over the phone from the hit series’ shooting location in Atlanta. Among other things, the actor discussed how he found Nicholas to be intriguing, as he has always been drawn to characters that have various layers and secrets that can be revealed over time; how he couldn’t have asked for a better scene partner in Ortiz, as she’s down-to-earth, fun and smart, and they instantly became friends; and despite the fact that the writers are constantly throwing curveballs at him about Nicholas’ past and relationship with Marisol, he is certain he does love really love her, which is an important truth about his character he can hold onto while shooting.
Question (Q): You play Nicholas Deering in the current second season of the hit Lifetime comedy-drama series, ‘Devious Maids.’ What was it about the character of Nicholas, as well as the series in general, that convinced you to take on the role?
Mark Deklin (MD): As an actor, I’m always drawn to characters that have various layers and secrets that can be revealed over time. It’s just more interesting than playing someone who’s cut-and-dry and black-and-white.
In the character description, that’s one of the first things that came up. He’s this billionaire who’s fallen in love with Marisol. His first wife died under mysterious circumstances, and he comes with many secrets. That was the original description, and I thought, well, okay, that’s interesting. (laughs)
So it’s been fun to find this character and peel away the layers, like union skin. I know he’s not a good guy, but he could be a bad guy. Or he could have been a bad guy, but maybe wants to turn over a new leaf, because he’s found love and a new beginning. But he might not be able to, because he may not be able to escape the sins of his past. All of that is pretty juicy stuff that you can sink your teeth into as an actor.
The show is so much fun. It definitely has that Marc Cherry stamp on it, and is that soap opera with a wink. There’s still a lot of room to play and have heightened drama with the smart, witty comedy. I think that mix is really fun, which is why the audience has really taken to the show. It has such a loyal fan base, which is very cool.
Q: How familiar were you with the first season of the show when you accepted the role of Nicholas?
MD: Well, to be honest, I hadn’t seen the first season. ‘Devious Maids’ was originally made for ABC, and they were shooting the first season the same time I was shooting the pilot for ‘GCB.’ I know there were some talks that the two shows might go together well as companion pieces, but that just didn’t work out.
We at ‘GCB’ were picked up by ABC, but the show was then cancelled after the first season. ‘Devious Maids’ didn’t get picked up by ABC at all. The show was then pitched to Lifetime, who loved it, bought it and retooled it a little bit. So now it’s made by ABC for Lifetime. So it’s cool that it’s found a life.
So I missed the first season of ‘Devious Maids,’ because I was buys working on my show. But I heard great things about it. One of the first things I did when I was thrown into the mix for this role was immediately download all the episodes of Season 1 and watch them. That just gave me a sense of what the tone and vibe of the whole show was, especially who Marisol was, who my character ends up having this love interest with. So I wanted to know a little bit about where she was coming from.
But I already had a sense of what the tone was, as I had worked with Marc before on ‘Desperate Housewives.’ He had another pilot that never got picked up, but I was in the midst for a role on that show. That’s the main thing I did to prepare.
I went into the audition very open-minded to what Marc and David Warren (who has directed several episodes of ‘Devious Maids’ and ‘Desperate Housewives’) and the creative team really wanted from this character. Reading the script, I had my own pre-conceived notions of how I would approach this character. In my screen test, Marc had a lot of adjustments for me. They weren’t corrections, per say, but he would say, “I like the choice you’re making, but now let me see this other choice,” which I may not have thought about. So there were a lot of flavors to this character to explore.
Q: With ‘Devious Maids’ premiering its first season last spring, what’s the process like for you as an actor to step into a show that’s already in progress? How does it compare and contrast to working on a show from the beginning, such as with ‘GCB’ and your 2010 FOX drama, ‘Lone Star?’
MD: These guys already have a tight-knit group, and they’re great people. I’ve definitely felt welcomed and part of the family from the minute I got here, which is very cool.
But the nice thing about entering a show that’s already running that it’s different from a new show-with a freshman series, you’re worried about creating a bang right out of the gate, especially now, since it’s such a cut-throat environment. If a new show doesn’t deliver the numbers right away, it’s probably not going to make the cut. So there’s a lot of anxiety with a new show, because there’s not much time for it to find itself; you have to come out swinging.
So it’s nice to enter a show that already has a rhythm, so you can focus less on trying to get that bang right out of the gate, and instead spend more time telling the story. There’s an already existing storyline, and you have to find how your character slides into that. I enjoy that, and how my character’s backstory with Marisol’s backstory, and now we’re creating a whole new story. That’s really fun.
Q: Nicholas is a charming, but mysterious, millionaire who has fallen in love with Marisol, played by Ana Ortiz. What has your working relationship with Ana been like on the set? Did you build a bond with her as you began filming, to help build the authenticity of your characters?
MD: Absolutely, our relationship couldn’t be better. She couldn’t be more delightful to work with. We’ve become good buddies. I actually went out and had drinks with her husband and a couple of the other guys recently. She has kids who are the same age as my kids, and they’ve become friendly.
She’s great, and I couldn’t ask for a better scene partner. She’s down-to-earth, fun and smart. So we just hit it off right away on a friendship level. As a result, I think very early on, probably by our second episode together, we developed this easy chemistry together, that we didn’t have to work very hard on. We just had to allow it to be there. The network and show’s producers have expressed to us that they’re very happy with the chemistry our two characters have, and that’s gratifying. It’s very easy to develop that chemistry when you’re working with someone like Ana.
Q: Nicholas proposes to Marisol after only three months, and she soon begins to uncover details about the mysterious death of his first wife. She realizes that her whirlwind romance isn’t as picture perfect as she had imagined. Did you create a backstory for Nicholas before you began filming?
MD: Absolutely. But in some ways, I didn’t have to create the backstory, because a lot of what’s written for Nicholas is his backstory. He’s really has some big secrets and sins in his past. It’s dark stuff that he’s going to have to pay for at some point, in some form.
I don’t want to give anything away, but through the use of flashbacks, we’re actually going to see a lot of Nicolas’ backstory. So I didn’t really have to invent a whole lot there.
Going back to the relationship between Marisol and Nicholas, with a show like this, there are so many lies and so much deceit happening. There was a point where I had to ask Marc, the writers and the producers what’s true and not true. There are so many lies being told here, I need some spine of truth that I can hold onto. I also asked, “Is Nicholas really in love with Marisol, or is this some kind of long con?”
They assured me that no matter what other slippery truths are out there, it is true that Nicholas does love Marisol. That’s real, and they are in love with one another, so that’s something I can hold onto. Ana and I said, “Great, that’s enough. Everything else can swirl around us, as long as we have that life raft of this relationship being genuine. Then everything else can be as crazy as it needs to be.” That’s been the rock I’ve held onto as we’ve been shooting.
With a show like this, they’re constantly throwing curveballs at you. That can be frustrating, but if you allow it to be fun, it can be a lot of fun, because you literally don’t know what’s coming next. We’re shooting right now, and I have no idea what’s coming in the next script. It’s kind of cool and freeing, in a way.
Q: Eva Langoria made her television directorial debut with the premiere episode of ‘Devious Maids’ second season, and she also executive produces the show. What has your experience of working with Eva on the show been like?
MD: Oh, Eva’s great. She and I had worked together on ‘Desperate Housewives.’ I played her love interest in a couple episodes a few years back. When I showed up for the first day of the costume fitting, she came in and said, “Oh, my God, how are you? It’s been what, seven years since we’ve seen each other?” She was immediately welcoming.
I’ve always liked her. As an actor, I’ve always thought she was great to work with, and she’s also a very cool and smart person. A lot of the things I just said about Ana would also apply to Eva. I already knew that I liked her.
Then we got thrown into the fire on the first night of shooting. We were at this crazy outdoor location in the middle of winter. But it was fantastic, and I felt really proud of Eva. I don’t mean that in a condescending way, but as someone who already liked her, to see what a great job she was doing was fantastic.
She’s really a great director. I’m really glad she’s pursuing this path because she’s smart, articulate and passionate. Since she’s also an actor, she really knows how to relate to her actors. So it was a great way to be thrown into the fire.
Q: Is directing something you’d be interested in pursuing in the future, besides acting?
MD: Yes, sure. I’m a fight director already as it is, and I enjoy that. Whether I’m working as an actor, writer, musician or the various other things I dabble in, more than anything else, I’m a storyteller.
The thing that can be frustrating as an actor is that when you’re in the theater, you’re the storyteller when you’re up on stage. But then in film and on TV, you’re just a little piece of the puzzle. You’re not the storyteller; the real storytelling happens after you’ve shot. The director and editor are the ones telling the story in the editing room, as they’re putting the pieces together. So in that sense, directing does really interest me. I think it suits my temperament, so it may be a path I head down at some point.
Q: Besides being an actor, you’re also a fight director, like you mentioned, and worked on the stunts for last year’s animated motion capture film ‘Tarzan.’ What was the process of creating and working on the stunts for the film?
MD: That was a blast. The movie was produced by Constantin Film in Munich. Let’s start with the fact that I was flown to Germany to shoot the film. I love Germany, and I had lived there years ago. I love Munich, so it was great to be back and practice my German, which is very rusty.
In addition to that, it was cool doing the stunt work. I have done a lot of CGI work with video games, but the technology has progressed so much in the past few years. It was really neat to show how that and all the motion capture stuff has changed.
It was also cool working with Peter Elliot, who was the main stunt coordinator and choreographer on the film. This is a guy who, in addition to being a stunt coordinator, is also an ape expert. He has studied them and loves them. He worked on (the 1988 drama film) ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ and various other projects like that.
He was brought in to basically train all these stunt men. I was playing a human-I played Tarzan’s father-but Peter was training all these other stunt men in their motion capture suits. He was showing them how to embody the Great Apes. So it was awesome to watch him take on this physicality that wasn’t human, and instead purely simian. It was great to hear him talk about their habits, the way they breathe and how they relate to gravity. So it was a real learning experience, and we had a lot of fun doing it.
Q: You mentioned theater before, and you have appeared on Broadway, in such musicals as ‘Sweet Smell of Success’ and ‘The Lion King.’ Would you be interested in doing theater again in the future?
MD: Oh, absolutely. Theater is where I come from, and that’s my training and background. I’m a Shakespeare guy, and that’s what I did for years. When I was in New York, my primary union and insurance was (The) Actors’ Equity (Association), not SAG. I dabbled in films and TV, but I was primarily a theater actor.
I love it, and I will return to it. But it’s tough, quite frankly, to support a family on a theater paycheck, if I’m being entirely crass about it. So right now, just as a dad, I’m enjoying my television work, and I’m very grateful for it. But I definitely want to make some time to return to theater, because I miss it.
Q: You have starred on several network shows throughout your career, including ‘GCB’ and ‘Lone Star,’ like you mentioned earlier. What is it about acting on television that you enjoy so much? How does acting on a network series compare and contrast to working on a cable show, like ‘Devious Maids?’
MD: There definitely is a difference. I think every medium has its own distinct qualities. I mentioned before how when you’re an actor in theater, it’s a very different animal, and you approach it in a very different way than you do when you’re in front of a camera. Film has its own unique quirks, as does TV.
There is a difference between a network and cable show. One of the neat things about cable is that you’re not quite as beholden to sponsorship and viewership as you are on the networks. So there’s a certain flexibility to it that you might not find on network television. On the flip side, one of the great things about network shows is that there’s a real stability to it that’s very attractive, and can be very satisfying.
One of the nice things about TV is that it’s steady. It’s not secure, as you can get cancelled at any moment. But assuming you’re running, it’s nice, steady work. You start to find a rhythm on television.
When you’re on a television, and not just as a guest or recurring star, but when you’re a series regular, you definitely start to find that real rhythm to it. There’s something very gratifying about that, because you intuitively star to understand what direction and choices are true to your character, and which ones aren’t true. You come to get to know this character very well. So as each new script and situation arises, you have a real sense of who your character is, and how they would approach each new situation. So there’s something really cool about that.
But when you shoot a film, you never really find that rhythm. You’re constantly doing so many different things, and it’s a wild ride. You trust the director is going to steer the ship right.
Q: Besides ‘Devious Maids,’ do you have any other upcoming projects you can discuss?
MD: There’s not much I can discuss, but there was a little film I was working on right before I started this show. I actually just had a series of exchanges with the director about it. It’s a little sci-fi film, and it has a cool script. But he’s holding off on releasing and discussing it right now. But it is a cool little script.
I also have a few other things in the fire that I’m hoping to work on, once we finish shooting the show down here (in Atlanta). It’s all up in the air, as my profession often is.