Raymond Cruz on Upcoming Major Crimes: "You're Going to be Left in Tears"

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Raymond Cruz Major Crimes Julio Sanchez TNT Critical Blast

TNT's MAJOR CRIMES succeeds because it doesn't have a single star -- it has a constellation of stars that put all their light on telling the story, and let the show be the object of focus. One of these terrific actors is Raymond Cruz, who portrays Detective Julio Sanchez. We stole of few moments of Cruz's time to talk about his character's evolving story on MAJOR CRIMES, which airs Monday nights on TNT.


The big question for MAJOR CRIMES fans right now is, "Does Julio Sanchez have a grip on his anger issues?"

You know, he's working on that. [laughs] As you know, things don't happen overnight. What's great and fascinating about the show is you get to see someone who has to deal with things in real time, over a period of time. He just returned from a five month suspension without pay, he's attending counseling, he's living with his mother.

This Monday night the fans are in for a real treat, because Monday night you'll get at the heart of the character. It's a huge episode about what motivates Julio, and why he's at the point he's at, at this crossroads in his life where he's having to face his demons. You learn what happened to his wife -- which is huge!

Monday night is an amazing episode! It's going to be one that the fans are going to be talking about, and I guarantee you that by the end of the episode you're going to be left in tears.

In regards to how Julio interacts with his fellow police officers, what can fans expect in the relationship between him and Tony Denison's character, Lt. Flynn? Because it's obvious Flynn is not happy to see Sanchez return.

I don't blame Flynn. The character, he's got a valid point. You have to trust the guy who's next to you because it's a very dangerous job that they're involved with. You're fighting crime, you have to deal with the worst elements of society. It's a scary situation, so I don't blame him for his apprehension. But there's a dynamic that's going on where he's throwing me under the bus. [laughs] So we'll see how that pays off! This guy's saved that guy's life so many times!

You wrapped up the acting on this a while back, but fans only recently got to see you portray Ariel Castro in CLEVELAND ABDUCTION. Is it a challenge to keep going back and forth in character from good guy to bad guy?

Oh my God, it's so hard. It's not even so much "good guy" and "bad guy." This character, Ariel Castro in CLEVELAND ABDUCTION is such a pig, such an evil, evil person. And you have to find the character and go there mentally and emotionally. Not only that, I had to gain thirty pounds in two weeks to play the part, so physically you have to transform yourself, then whip back into shape to portray my character on MAJOR CRIMES. It's such hard work, and it wears you out. But you're shooting for the story. I'm trying to help tell these stories and capture people's interests; maybe they learn something or they're entertained or they're scared. It's great. It's my job.

You've mentioned in past interviews that you grew up around several family members who were in street gangs.

Oh yeah, they were hardcore gang members.

Is that still the situation, and if so what's it like these days when you're around those family members today?

I treat everyone with respect. I don't judge, I just try to learn. Honestly, my family members that were gang members were probably some of the best teachers I ever had, because I've been fortunate enough to portray gang members on film. BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT. TRAINING DAY. If I hadn't had that experience with them, I don't know that I could have achieved those characters with such truth to be able to put them on screen. The biggest compliment is when someone who is that comes up to you and they're impressed with your work. So for gang members to come up to me and say, "Oh my God, you were perfect. I loved you as this character," or when a police officer comes up to me and is a fan of MAJOR CRIMES and says, "I believe you as a cop on this show," those are the biggest compliments.

Obtaining celebrity opens up the door to impact charities in ways that those without it can't always achieve. So I wanted to end the interview by opening the forum up so you can tell everyone what's important to you.

The biggest thing with celebrity is that you're able to donate your time for certain causes, and it makes a difference. Like G.W. [Bailey]'s charity, The Sunshine Kids, for kids who are terminally ill with cancer. We do a lot of events and fundraisers for him. Also St. Jude's Children's Hospital. I feel fortunate that I've been a part of events that raise money to help treat these children. I'm so impressed with people who are out there on the front lines like Los Angeles Children's Hospital -- that's an amazing place, and I've had experience with them and what they're doing out there. I'm so grateful. If I can do anything that helps, especially when we have these kids come to the set when we do functions, they're so excited to see us, and you're a healthy person. It makes a difference to them that they get to watch you shoot a scene, or that they get to have lunch with you, or we take them to the beach or go to different events with them, or we play in a golf tournament where people are donating money that will put them on a trip somewhere... that is the benefit of celebrity. You can help make a difference.