Your new TV crush is Tommy Martinez, who plays the sexy Gael, a graphic designer, on the Freeform hit series Good Trouble. At the conclusion of episode one, after flirting heavily with Maia Mitchell’s Callie Adams Foster and running through the mind of Mariana Adams Foster (Cierra Ramirez), Gael surprises the Foster sisters by revealing that he is bisexual. This topic is quite relevant to Martinez, who recently opened up on a panel that he had an experience with a man 10 years and shared how this character means so much to him, both in terms of bisexuality, but also Latinx representation. He also opened up about his girlfriend, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina‘s Adeline Rudolph.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our intimate chat with Good Trouble‘s Tommy Martinez.
Brief Take: What has the road to Good Trouble been like for you?
Tommy Martinez: Coming to L.A. and pursuing this dream of acting… I got the breakdown for Gael, and reading his words, I just instantly fell into place with it. I just saw so much of myself in that character, that it’s like I looked at it, and I laughed. I was like: His last name is also Martinez and I’m sure he’s Catholic and he’s Hispanic. All the experiences that he has, he’s an artist, but he’s also juggling that dream with keeping his social stability alive with a side job and I was like “this thing is speaking to me!”. It was a month-long audition process and at that time I was homeless—not like homeless living on the street, but I didn’t have a place to call home, so I was crashing on my friend’s couch. This was throughout pilot season. Up until that point, the furthest I had gotten was a screen test for the spinoff of The Originals, and I was there with Aria Shahghasemi, who is now on that show. I was like “wow, this is the furthest I have ever gotten”, and I was so nervous. A lot of things happened before – a red-eye flight, they had sent me new sides – so my mind was all screwed up. I wasn’t prepared completely for that screen test, and since he got it, needless to say, I didn’t! I was pretty bummed about it, but I think very positively about experiences like that. There’s this ineffable feeling that it’s going to work out, at some point. And it was this, I believe.
BT: Tell me about the cast dynamic on Good Trouble and why you all gel so well with one another.
TM: It’s mainly the sense of family with everybody. I would introduce myself at the table read like a sheltered introvert. I was like [putting on a shy voice] “Hi, my name is Tommy and it’s nice to meet you”, like I wasn’t myself. It was my first big opportunity and this is a whole new world for me, and it was a little bit intimidating, can’t lie. [laughs] Once everyone got together, there was so much love flowing from everybody, and many people who are on the show—like Sherry (Cola), Zuri (Adele), Emma (Hunton), Josh (Pence), all of them—it’s their first ‘big thing’, so we were all equally excited and kind of had the jitters. But when we had that dinner scene in the first episode, in between takes we’d be talking about anything and everything. Sherry’s a comedian, Emma is super funny, so there was laughter and love and we all knew why we were there. There is that sense of family and not just with the actors, but with the DP’s and the cinematographers, everybody, the costume designers, everybody, had the same amount of love for one another, and that really set the tone for the rest of the show. From getting a group chat for the show and talking whenever or meeting up, it wasn’t just this on-screen relationship. We all grew into this beautiful group of friends…family! It really is a family. I can’t even call it friends, that’s what it is, it’s family. It really sets the tone.
BT: I read that Gael’s bisexuality meant a lot to you personally.
TM: I know some people from my hometown who are gay, but they never embraced that themselves. It wasn’t something that was talked about, so it was taboo and that led to people being closeted. I know someone who’s out here in L.A. right now who’s from that same town, same high school, he hasn’t come out. He knows that he’s gay, I know that he’s gay, our friends know that he’s gay. But in this industry, he’s afraid to come out because he thinks that it will affect him in a negative light. And that’s unfortunate and I’d like to have this conversation with him, I will eventually. But that’s something that has to come from yourself, and knowing that the times are changing and it’s very different than what it was.
BT: Have you had a chance to explore sexual identity on Riverdale?
TM: For Riverdale, my character is this lunatic who sells drugs and is part of a gang and he’s a bad person, there’s no deeper meaning to that. He’s just the antagonist. Yet it was very much enjoyable to play that and to put my feet into his shoes and portray that character. But with Gael, there’s a deeper and very profound meaning to all of this. At the panel at the LGBT Center, after they watched the episode, it was such a beautiful response from everybody. We were about to walk up, we were all lined up, and I pulled (producer) Bradley (Bredeweg) aside and I told him, “hey, something that has been on my mind is that, I’m going to make this quick, I had an experience with a man many years ago and I am wondering if it would be okay to talk about this here?”. And he looked at me with a smile and said “that would be very beautiful, and thank you for sharing that with me”. Speaking out about that and sharing my experience, if that can help somebody to come out themselves and find the courage to say: “You know what? I did it too.” Even if it’s just one person, to come out and embrace themselves for who they are and to know that they are loved.
Good Trouble airs every Tuesday at 8/7c on Freeform and ABC Spark