Interview with SIX’s Juan Pablo Raba

Today I had the incredible opportunity to chat with Juan Pablo Raba, current star of History Channel’s hit show SIX. Raba plays Navy SEAL Ricky “Buddha” Ortiz. He’s every bit as charming and kind as you’d hope and immediately put this newbie at ease. Buddha is such an interesting character and incredibly important to the team and I loved hearing Raba’s take on where he’s headed.  We talked about season 2 of SIX (starting May 28th), reminisced some about his time on Agents of Shield and determined how he’d fare in a zombie apocalypse. Enjoy! 

First off, we’re really excited for your second season, I love SIX, it’s just fantastic.  I’m a Navy wife myself and it’s phenomenal the way that y’all show the families and make everything so realistic.

Trust me, second season you’re in for a treat because it just gets wilder. Everything just goes a little out of control.

That’s great! Buddha is a huge fan favorite, he has such a big heart for the team and his family. When you first read the script did you feel a connection to him right away?

The funny thing Kelsey, is that I consider myself to be very lucky. So here’s the deal, when they called me for the audition I was in LA for something else, so this was out of the blue. My agents told me to go and check out the show, it had great people behind it. Bill Broyles, Dave Broyles, Alfredo Barrios, Bruce McKenna, and it was supposed to be only one episode for Buddha.

Oh really?

Yeah. Buddha was gonna die in the first episode. When my agent told me, “listen, you know, it’s not what we’re looking for but, this show has great people behind it and it’d be something great to have on your resume. So if you get it, we’ll be more than happy to take it.” And that’s the idea I had. So I went to the first audition, I had a callback, and then a second callback. When I got the role they told us that they had reconsidered and they actually wanted to have that character as a regular on the show. So that got me really excited. I mean, I didn’t know much about him! I only knew he was supposed to die in the first episode.

You know, him being a family man, and being such an elite warrior, that’s what always has fascinated me about the character. It’s how do you cope with those two aspects of your life? You know, it’s kind of being Jekyll and Hyde. That’s what fascinates me about these persons, these men, and women in the military. You definitely need to have a double personality – you have your warrior hat and then you come home and you have your dad’s hat and your spouse hat and your lover hat, am I right? That’s the most interesting aspect for you and that’s why I love SIX so much.

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Photo credit @SIXonHistory

I am so blown away by that; Buddha is such an integral part of the show. I can’t even imagine how different it would be without you there! That is so crazy.

Well then they came up with exactly that, you know, they figured it out. I was also very lucky; I was the first one to be cast in the show. Then they figure out, ok – well I think when you have 2 personalities like Caulder (Kyle Smith) and Bear (Barry Sloane), um, Buddha is great because he gets to be like the middle brother! You have this super elite warrior that Bear is, that Joe Graves is, that’s so focused on the mission and so professional. On the other hand, you have the younger brother, Caulder who is just kind of all over the place, out for the adventure, and is kinda irresponsible, but still an amazing warrior. So Buddha is always there in the middle to kind of help these two get along.

Now the interesting thing is that all those parts are completely going to shift in season 2. The team is going to have to really face many, many challenges to keep professional after what happened with Rip. It gets too personal for all of them and it’s not good when tragedy hits you so hard and so close. That’s going to be a big interesting part for all of our characters in season 2. How do you cope with the idea that you have been touched so close?

I know in our interview with Barry Sloane he did hint that you would be taking a pretty dark turn this season, that tells us a little bit about why – obviously the fallout from Rip. After taking your character to that darker place what helps you come back from that, come back to “normal”?  

That’s exactly what’s going to happen. The two senior guys on the team, which are Bear and Buddha are going to be in constant dispute about literally who is right and who is wrong while operating. That’s something very dangerous. It’s dangerous for them, it’s dangerous for the team. So they will have to deal with their own problems that way.

Now, how does Buddha come back? He has an amazing family. He has Jackie, who is a key character for the Ortiz family. He’s always keeping order and peace within the house. I don’t know what would be of Buddha, or if Buddha could be what he is if he didn’t have Jackie in his life. So that’s going to play also a key part in bringing Buddha back and taking him out of that dark space.

Do you relate to that in your own family with your wife and your son? 

Yes. Exactly. Absolutely. I have the luck, fortune, privilege of being married to whom I’m married to. Who is the one who keeps order in this house, in this career, in this enterprise that we call our family? Right? She never hesitates to just pack a suitcase and to just make us always be together as much as possible. This is a complicated career in that sense and we have found as a family great joy in traveling, in moving, in packing, unpacking, finding a house, finding a school. I’ve got to say that my kid and my wife, they are fantastic, phenomenal for this. That’s very important for me because I am, I am very bad to be away from them.

That does sound very similar to a military family.

Yup.

So you mentioned Buddha’s family, he has Ricky Jr and Anabel. You’re one of the few on the show working with young actors. How does affect how you shoot the scenes?

They are great, they’re super talented. (FYI from the way he talks about them, you can tell he has great affection for these kids) They know the business inside and out, they know what they’re doing. They’re professional actors and its kind of a breather, to be honest. To take off all the bulletproof vests and ballistic helmets and stop shooting a gun. It’s a breather because I enjoy it a lot. I mean I really, really enjoy that. For me all the shooting, all those scenes I really have to put myself into it because I’ve never been a fan of guns. One thing that I really appreciate about the show is that I spent many many hours on the shooting range shooting live ammo and I have become comfortable with guns because I know the safety now. But uh, the family part I enjoy a lot. I like everything in the show, but it’s always a little vacation.

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photo credit @SIXonHistory

If this is a sensitive topic, of course, please feel free to say “I don’t want to talk about that”. But I was wondering, I know you do a lot of work in Venezuela. Obviously here in the US, we hear a lot about the humanitarian crisis that’s being faced down there currently. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how that affects your career and the entertainment industry located there?

Yeah well, I’m Columbian, but I lived in Venezuela for six years so I have many dear friends, people I consider my family. It is really sad. The film industry is almost destroyed. I’d say a large part of their industries. What is happening is brutal. It is a humanitarian crisis, in every aspect of it. It has become a cruel, cruel, violent place and it just makes me very sad. I hold them close to my heart, I’m very thankful for all the years of friendship and work that I had there. But it is as bad as you can imagine, or see in the news. It is that bad or even worse.

I know that you and your wife do a lot of humanitarian work and she’s worked with the UN. Is there anything the two of you are working on right now?

Right now we’re not. I mean, we’re always working. We were in Colombia for 10 weeks and my wife is on the board members of 2 foundations that work with women’s rights. So we’re always kinda working, especially Monica. I have been very immersed in my work. I finished SIX and then I shot in LA and after filming in LA, I went down to Colombia and shot a show for Netflix in Colombia. So the humanitarian work is always there, it’s just that we haven’t been able to be more physically present down south.

So, over at TV Series Hub, we’re big Agents of Shield fans. We loved you as Joey and are just wondering if you have a picture in your head of where he would be right now?

Oh, God. Well, Joey is a kind of a little bit lost in translation. It’s funny because I always thought that, you know, with everything that happened in season 4, with the Ghost Rider and stuff? I always thought, man that would have been no problem for Joey. Melt that car, no season! (he’s adorably cracking himself and me up with that) So maybe its good that Joey wasn’t around because they may not have had such a great season with Joey.

I miss them. You know what, they are one of the greatest crews and casts that I have ever worked with. All of the people are fantastic. (super emphasis on fantastic!) Fantastic professionals, fantastic persons. I’m just very happy to know that they had their 100th episode and that Clark had been directing. They’re like one big family so I wouldn’t mind getting back one day and doing a couple episodes with them.

That’s good to know! (Seriously – who do we have to talk to in order to get Joey back for season 6!?) 

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photo credit @SIXonHistory

So just a couple last things, if you’re at home with your family, what’s on TV and what’s for dinner?

On TV is something that my kid wants to watch. To be honest, I’m not very very, I don’t watch a lot of TV, to be honest. Like now, I’m just going to sit down and watch a movie because I’m on vacation and my kid is at school, but I like to DO stuff. I like to bike; I like to do stuff with my kid. We are in Vancouver now; the weather is fantastic. I’m more kind of a street guy. For dinner? Always whatever my kid wants. He likes sushi, so I’ll make sushi for him, I’ll make pasta, super simple.

In a zombie apocalypse, how long do you think you’d last?

Oh. Oh, I’ll get them all! Yeah, I never quit, I never quit. In a zombie apocalypse, the only one who survives is the one who never quits and I will never quit. So I will whip their butt.

Thank you again so much for taking the time to answer our questions, is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?

Just that I’m very excited about the season, I’m very grateful. I know it’s been a long wait, we had to push our premiere because of the Winter Olympics. But trust me, for all of those who are hanging in there, it is so worth it. You are in for a treat. I am mesmerized by what those guys have accomplished. The writers just stepped up their game so hard. You will be blown away by the locations. Everything that happens in this season will just blow your mind.

The premiere of season 2 of SIX airs on the History channel on Monday, May 28th at 10/9c and then moves to it’s regular timeslot Wednesday, May 30th at 10/9c

Follow us on twitter @tvserieshub to live tweet, or hit me up anytime on @nolenag03 to talk SIX !

*because this interview was done over Skype it is very lightly edited for syntax and clarity