Interview: Manny Perez and Michael Rabe Talk Big Dogs (Exclusive)



So I had to trust in the scripts and directors. “Manny played (More’s) partner, so we did most of our work together. “His skill set is so varied and spread out, so getting to play him is a real pleasure. “were always on the horizon. His efficiency and skill level is great, and he’s also a great guy,” the actor also noted. “But the stunts were one of my favorite parts of the shoot.”
Following up on the book trilogy, Rabe appreciated the opportunity to work with Dunn on the television series. “Being on location is always a plus, especially in New York, because New York City is a character itself,” he shared with a laugh. “Also working with Brett Cullen was also fantastic. “So they reached out to me when they were setting up ‘Big Dogs.’ When I then read the pilot with More, the opportunity to play a character who’s so far off field of what everyone else is up to,” drew him in to portray the detective. Rabe called that lack of information about his character caused “a unique challenge, because he’s such a blank slate, especially in the beginning. “Through the show, we also got to do some arms training and stunt work, which really helped me figure that part of More out. In this case, during the readings that I had with Michael, we connected. “I read a number of books that were recommended to me by Adam Dunn, the creator of the show. What’s happening outside now is very similar to what happens in the books and on the show. “It was fantastic to be able to shoot in New York City. He was also always on set, giving us pointers on the world that he wrote,” he shared. “I would also check in with Adam and the producers, to make sure that I was on the right page. Rabe also describe what his own research process was like once he was cast on the thriller. “We shot the eight episodes over one long arc, so I got to make friends with people who I didn’t have too many scenes with, like Dennis Flanagan and Louis Carbonneau. “When you’re making a show that’s based on something like a book series, it’s lovely to read it, but then you want to put it away, and make it your own creation,” the performer further revealed. It speaks to Adam’s writing that things that weren’t corollary then are now happening, and are eerily familiar grounds.”
Further speaking of how the drama is set in a purported alternative reality of New York, Perez shared his appreciation of being able to actually film ‘Big Dogs’ in the city. So I’m very much like Sixto Santiago in my way of growing up.”
With Santiago being so dedicated to both his family and job, he sometimes struggles with balancing his obligations in his personal and professional lives. Adam’s so familiar with the world he built for the original three, and now new fourth, ‘Big Dogs’ books. Watching him get stuck with me, and figuring out how to play it, was pretty funny, because they’re this odd couple. What made him so good at his job has also made him such a hard-to-read individual,” the actor admitted. I told (the producers) that I didn’t want a stunt guy standing in for me, and I wanted to shoot this whole experience,” he shared. “The great thing about Sixto is that he’s a family man. The writers added more detail to the scripts, just to make (the story) more dramatic and episodic,” he revealed. “Getting to really be on location, especially in a place as unique as New York City, was such a privilege. “Adam is an amazing guy, and he gave us the books, so we didn’t have to buy them. Getting to know, and work with, Manny was a massive pleasure; he’s a great guy and a great actor,” he shared. I learned the linguistics of detective work, and the nights they spend out, running the neighborhood. The hair and make-up (departments) were great,” Rabe shared. “Also, getting to do the stunts, and being one step ahead of the rest of the characters, was very appealing to me.”
Once Perez finished reading the scripts for the season and knew the storyline, he did some of his own research, to help him better understand Santiago’s motivations and emotions. Usually, I play lawyers, cops, crooks or crooked lawyers, so I do research for that type of character. I worked to figure him out externally, to determine what made him tick on the inside.”
Spending time with his friends to help him better understand Santiago’s work ethic also helped Perez relate to the detective’s own personal emotions. I had never really done things at that level; I had done a bit on ‘Homeland,’ but nothing this major. He loves and adores his dad, and is always trying to get approval from him,” the performer noted. “That was even true with the character that Brett Cullen plays, Captain McKeutchen. We then shot the eight episodes, and now we have the first season of ‘Big Dogs.’”
Rabe also began his conversation by explaining how he became attached to star on the show. Rabe also expressed his interested in starring in a sophomore season of ‘Big Dogs.’ “In the books, More becomes more and more interesting,” he divulged with a laugh. “That will hopefully show on screen. I also did a lot of research on my own; I watched documentaries, and as much found footage as I could about operators at that level, and how they’re moving. After working on the show, seeing the parallels between its story and reality is very interesting. That bond helped us be truthful while we were in front of the camera.”
Working with the rest of the cast, especially Perez, was also something that Rabe cherished during the drama’s production. “There’s a stuntman driving, on behalf of Michael’s character of More. Another thing that’s lovely about Sixto is that his family grounds him, which is why he’s always out, looking for the truth,” Perez shared. The current events that are happening in the city and across the U.S. So having the books was a good starting point, but then I wanted to move into my own work, which I think is the most beneficial thing to do.”
Perez also revealed that “When we started shooting the show, which was 20 months ago, I thought New York would never be a part of the world that’s presented in the story, I thought it’s such an alternate reality to, and futuristic look at, New York. Rabe also appreciated having Dunn’s book trilogy as a resource to help him better understand his character. holding the equipment and engaging with the world,” he shared. The captain’s a very powerful man, and I looked at him like a father-figure. We hung out and went out for coffee, because we wanted to get to know each other as people, so that we could build some kind of friendship,” he revealed. It was so much fun,” he divulged. “What’s lovely about a character like this on a TV show is that he’s well-rounded, which is rare, especially with a character who’s Latino. That bridge is also a character on the show, and being able to shoot in real locations like that is always a plus, as opposed to shooting on a lot.”
**SPOILER ALERT**The scene that was filmed on the 59th Street Bridge that Perez mentioned is showcased in the show’s sixth episode, and he cherished the opportunity to have done his own stunts during the action sequence. That’s the irony of this project; it makes you think, I hope real life doesn’t get darker, like it is in the books,” he noted. “That’s the beautiful thing about working with other actors who are trying to do what you’re trying to do: being honest to the characters,” the performer continued. “He really (represents) the audience’s reaction to my character. On the passenger side is my character of Santiago. “I’m the type of actor who does my own research. While Santiago’s close relationships with his family is a recurring theme that’s showcased throughout ‘Big Dog,’ not much background is given about More’s personal life, especially in the first few episodes. “I had worked on a film (the 2018 drama, ‘Above All Things’) with two of the show’s producers, Summer and Tony, about a year before” production on the television series began. “By the way, I can’t wait to hear if we get another season; hopefully, we’ll get enough of an audience to go back to set and do a second season, which would be based on the second book,” the actor concluded. I remember we were shooting this one scene, and a big drone came down in the East Village, and we had it all blocked off,” he revealed. It ended up being a pretty tight-knight group, which made going to work everyday a bit more fun.”
What also helped Perez get into character was the fact that the show is based on Dunn’s book trilogy. That was the beauty of playing this character; there was so much for me, as an actor, to search and research, and you just fall in love with him.”
Following up on his experience of collaborating with Rabe, Perez explained that “As an actor, I try to be truthful to the character and writing material. “But I loved the experience, and that was the whole beauty of this world…I’m the type of actor who loves being completely in the world, and the reality that it was really me in the scene, instead of a stuntman,” he added with a laugh.**END SPOILER ALERT**
Shooting the show on location in New York was also an experience that Rabe felt was vital. The performer admitted that before production on the television series began, he “had no idea that these books existed all all. But for Santiago, a detective who’s determined to find all the answers in his latest case, no matter how it affects his life, “I hung out with a few of my friends who are undercover detectives for about a month prior to shooting. “I read all three books, which was helpful, especially for More, as he’s someone who doesn’t speak a lot. I hope we get the chance to make another season.”Summary For example, we shot a scene on the 59th Street Bridge (also known as The Queensboro Bridge). “But that’s the beauty of why we’re in this industry; we’re trying to show a piece of reality, and make people think about their reality, and make them change for the better.”
The thriller’s story is set “a bit in the future, and a bit to the side of what New York actually is, but it’s not too far,” Rabe shared as he also chimed in on how the drama is meant to be set in an alternate reality of New York. “So we were driving across the 59th Street Bridge…when you watch that episode, you’ll see it’s really me as the passenger, and I’m screaming, and not acting because I’m freaking out,” the performer admitted with a laugh. He then shared with a sentimental laugh that “I come from a family of 11 kids, so my dad is my hero, and my mom is my queen. “Corey Pierno was the stunt coordinator, and he made everything super safe…I did some of the driving, and the fight scenes were also very fun, except when you throw the same punches 30 times, and wake up all bruised!,” he added with a laugh. In the books, there’s a lot more (detail) that delves into his thought process, so that was super helpful. “It was a blast. The stunts on The Queensboro Bridge were fantastic.”
The overall action sequences were something that Rabe enjoyed doing the production of the drama. That helped me out a lot in learning Sixto’s work habits,” the actor revealed. “It was great to have someone who you could go and ask pretty much any question. “So keeping him interesting, while also keeping people guessing about who he really is, why he’s there and what he’s really doing, was really fun. So after they sent me the scripts, I read the first book, and I thought the scripts were so truthful to the book. You could ask him pretty much anything, and he would give you a pretty thorough answer in return, in regards to why’s something’s happening, which was wonderful,” he shared. But when we were shooting the show, I couldn’t predict what was going to happen with the pandemic. “But as you get to know him and what he’s doing, you realize that he’s a very complicated guy with a very complex history. “What’s great about (Santiago’s) relationship with More is that he’s the opposite of him. “We shot the show up in New York, and over the course of the eight months of shooting, we got to know everybody who worked on the set there. He has trouble fully understanding More, but by the end of the season, you feel for both of them. The performer also wanted to take on the role because “it’s rare in this industry to have a Dominican character, especially who’s the lead, in a project. “Then cut to now, in 2020, and I’m sitting in my apartment. “It’s nice to check in with someone whose vision you’re helping realize.”
Perez also chimed in on the experience of work with Dunn on the show. While Perez read the scrips for the first season’s eight episodes, he hoped that his character wouldn’t change and become like More. “He was always there to guide us, if we got stuck on the storyline, or what the character was going through, and where he would be next season. “The streets are characters. After I read the first script, I continued reading the others, and told them I would do it.

Glazer also served as one of the showrunners, along with fellow executive producer, Summer Crockett Moore. Tony Glazer also served as one of the scribes, executive producers and directors on the show, which was also helmed by David Platt, Darnell Martin and Matthew Penn. But after America’s real-life financial collapse in 2008, the entertainment industry has begun crafting television shows and films that powerfully reflect the tensions that have subsequently grown, especially in the big metropolises. After Santiago’s commander, Captain McKeutchen (Brett Cullen), partners him with the mysterious and brutal new arrival, Everett More (Michael Rabe), the two become entangled in a web of numerous government agencies and crime organizations that are circling a besiegeed New York, and expose a fight for control of both the city and the country at large. Besieged by financial collapse, and a surging crime wave, an underworld economy of “speaks”- illegal, debaucherous after-hours clubs linked by a web of taxicabs-is thriving. All eight episodes of the mystery thriller’s reflective and contemplative first season are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi. (L-R): Actors Michael Rabe and Manny Perez star in the crime thriller television series, ‘Big Dogs.’
Setting a surging crime wave against financial collapse and an underworld economy in New York City would have seemed like a complete work of fiction in some modern times, as recently as a decade-and-a-half ago. ‘Big Dogs’ exists in a violent, anarchic alternate reality of New York City. since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide earlier this year. For extra cash, fashion photographer Renny (Micheál Richardson) has been moving party drugs through the taxi network for his boss, Reza (Tony Naumovski), the local front man for an international crime syndicate that’s looking to take over the city. While initially marketed as an anarchic alternate reality of New York City, the new action crime television series, ‘Big Dogs,’ has unpredictably begun to mirror the current uprising of the public fighting for their economic and civil rights across the U.S. ‘Big Dogs’ is based on the ‘More’ book trilogy by Adam Dunn, who also served as the creator, as well as one of the writers and executive producers, on the television adaptation. When Renny is forced by Reza to step up his game as a dealer to a dangerous degree, he soon finds himself in the cross-hairs of both Reza and Detective Sixto Santiago (Manny Perez), whose experimental NYPD unit is using undercover taxis to crack down on the chaotic drug trade.

Published on July 10, 2020


The conversation with Perez began with him explaining how he became attached to play Santiago on ‘Big Dogs.’ “The producers were looking for a Dominican actor, because the character is Dominican. Perez and Rabe generously took the time recently to talk about starring on ‘Big Dogs’ during individual exclusive interviews over the phone. So they reached out to my agent and gave me an offer, which is rare,” the actor admitted. They knew my work, as they had seen films that I had done. They also expressed their appreciation of having Dunn’s books as source material to help them form their portrayals of their characters on screen, while also having some of their own creative freedom while developing the detectives’ arcs. “So they offered me the role, which I thought was a joke. I asked, ‘You guys don’t want to see an audition?’ They said, ‘No, we love your work, so we want to offer you this (role), so here are the scripts; read them,’” the performer shared. Among other things, the actors discussed how they enjoying working with each other, as well as the rest of the cast, as everyone tried to be as honest with their characters as possible. “So how I read the first script and said, ‘Yes, I’m in it!,’ he added with a laugh.