A Martinez played Roy DiLucca, who is, arguably, Bobbie Spencer’s greatest love on General Hospital. The Daytime Emmy winner’s stay in Port Charles was ultimately brief, but he’s remained one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors.
A Martinez Stars in Ambulance – A Michael Bay Film
Currently, A Martinez can be seen in the Michael Bay film Ambulance, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Danny and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Will, two brothers whose plan to rob a bank goes awry. Consequently, they attempt to make a getaway in an ambulance (hence, the film’s title). Soap Hub chatted with Martinez about his role in the movie, the actor’s time on both GH and his Daytime Emmy-award winning run as Cruz Castillo on the gone-but-never-forgotten NBC soap Santa Barbara, which actress had a profound impact on his decision to join the soap opera genre, and more!
Soap Hub: Tell me about your role in Ambulance.
A Martinez: I play [Papi], a man who was friends with Danny’s biological father back in the day. I play the equivalent of his godfather. My character is a guy who is living on the wrong side of the law and he’s willing to take a big risk for the sake of his relationship with him and also, to save his own neck since he’s in trouble with people who want him to give them money that he does not have. It’s all very intense. When I saw the script, I thought the climatic scene for my character is unforgettable. I wanted to jump on this. There is a profound level of attention in this. I saw some in the editing room and I was over the moon about it.
What has it meant to you to have played a variety of roles in a variety of genres?
A Martinez: I’m super-pleased with what I’ve been able to do. I had nice runs on Santa Barbara and L.A. Law [as attorney Daniel Morales]. That set me up to be more of a hard gun going forward. Longmire [on which I played Jacob Nighthorse], of course, not only gave me six years of dependable employment but it gave me a chance to show another level of what I can do. [Jacob] was a great fit for me. I really lucked out with that character. I credit the showrunner Greer Shephard with letting me do that. That [show] was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
Soap Hub: What else are you working on?
A Martinez: I’m writing a movie. I’m not the only guy with an itch to tell a story. But I am wanting to tell one. Big time. I’m really proud of the work I’m getting to do in that. I’m hopeful that this will happen. My prayer is that I’ll get to do that and usher in the endgame, as it were, and I’ll get to go out behaving like a proper elder and sharing what it is that I’ve learned and what I think matters at this time.
Soap Hub: In what way?
A Martinez: You go along and you’re working in a story telling business. You bring your values. But those stories are not my stories. I’ve been careful about not doing things that I think should not be done. I’m not going to do stories that are lies that are meant to trick people into behaving against their own best interests. If I play a villain, he’s going to get his [butt] kicked and get his comeuppance. I’ve learned stuff. It’s imperative that elders share what they’ve learned. Youth is where the promise lives, but, by and large, we’ve played loose with valuing our elders.
Soap Hub: I agree. Did you see the New York Times article where episodes of Santa Barbara are being played out in a museum?
A Martinez: Oh, my gosh, I did. I saw that on Facebook. It’s extraordinary. I was very much aware [of the show’s popularity] when I went there in 1996. I was a guest at a TV special at the Moscow Art Theatre. I was in line to look at Lenin’s remains [in Moscow’s Red Square]. I stepped out of line to get a look at the entry way when a young Russian soldier started yelling at me — and then, he recognized me [as Cruz]. The next thing I knew, he was giving me an insignia from his hat and taking a picture for his momma. It was an astonishing experience. I’m not surprised the show has an emotional resonance.
Soap Hub: I saw an interview with Judith Light where she was promoting a TV movie a few years ago and all the interviewer could talk about was Karen on the witness stand on One Life to Live.
A Martinez: I don’t know that I would have been on Santa Barbara had I not watched Judith on One Life to Live. Leslie [my wife] was watching that show and then, I did, too. It was the first time I’d ever seen someone on a soap opera and thought, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ I had been stuck in that terrifying version of soaps where there was organ music and the camera lingered on the actor for way too long.
Soap Hub: We saw actors who’d been on OLTL, All My Children, Guiding Light, and, to an extent, As the World Turns return for guest spots before shows went off the air. Alas, that wasn’t the norm back when Santa Barbara ended so, we didn’t get to see Cruz one last time.
A Martinez: I know a lot of fans were concerned and they felt [my not being back] was a mistake. I certainly would have come [had I been invited] Leaving Santa Barbara was a big decision. I love working in soaps. It’s the sweetest kind of work.
Soap Hub: You get to act.
A Martinez: And you get to act a lot. You get to be in the company of players. I wish someone would call and say, ‘Be on our show.’ After I got to Santa Barbara, someone said to me that I’d hit the jackpot because I’d shown I can do this work and therefore, would always have a job. It’s like riding a horse in a movie. You might get asked to ride another in another movie.
Soap Hub: I’ll just say it — Roy DiLucca is still out there somewhere.
A Martinez: I think what GH is doing is astonishing. I remember getting to work with Tony [Geary, ex-Luke] a lot when I was on. Tony held his head up high every day. I didn’t get to work a lot with Maurice [Benard, Sonny] but what an extraordinary bunch of actors…Jackie [Zeman], Nancy [Lee Grahn, Alexis]…there’s just a level of respect that I carry for some of those folks there that’s right up at the top.
General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest that’s been posted on GH spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.