Filipino actor Jon Jon Briones is one of the lead stars of the new Netflix drama series “Ratched” starring Sarah Paulson.
On the show, Briones plays Dr. Richard Hanover, who goes toe-to-toe with Paulson’s infamous asylum nurse Mildred Ratched.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Briones shared how he landed the role and the preparations he made to properly approach his character.
According to Briones, “Ratched” executive producer Ryan Murphy saw him play Engineer in the Broadway musical “Miss Saigon.”
“He came backstage after the show. And we were talking and then he asked me, 'What are you doing after this?' So I said, 'I guess I'll be looking for a job.' And he said, 'I guess I'll just have to snatch you up.' I thought it was one of those Hollywood talks, and it was really nice of him to even say that," he said.
Much to his surprise, Briones actually heard from Murphy several months later to offer him “Ratched.”
“Before I got the first three scripts, I found out that I'd be playing Dr. Richard Hanover. So I thought, okay, he has a very Western name. So that's the direction we're going. And then I read the first episode's script, and there was a line there — it didn't make it in the final cut — but Sarah's character asks [my character] if he's of Filipino descent. And that made me very happy that they acknowledged my culture and the character. And in a way, it made it easier for me to connect with my character,” he siad.
Since his character on the show is a Filipino, an immigrant and a family man, Briones said “that made it easier for me to actually understand this character and to play the character.”
Briones said he considers it an honor to be in a Ryan Murphy show and “it’s also an even bigger thing to be one of the leads.”
“This is the first time I'm playing one of the leads in a show and for him to trust me with that, that's a big compliment. I really treasure that because he has a lot of actors, it's like a repertory. But for him to go, ‘Okay, newbie, come here.’ That was really special,” he said.
In preparing for his role, Briones admitted doing a lot of research “because I’m ignorant about this.”
“I'd heard of lobotomies, but I didn't really realize what it entails. And researching it, I went, ‘Oh my God, that was an actual method of treating the patient back in those days,’ and I couldn't believe that. Of course, the way we did it, in the script, it was so graphic. We had a doctor on-site and we would practice the lobotomy itself on a dummy, with a drill and also the transorbital lobotomy,” he said.
Briones, however, believes that he was already very much prepared by the time they filmed it because they did a lot of practice.
Meanwhile, Briones shared that he sees Dr. Richard Hanover as one of the good guys.
“As an actor, you can't have any judgment on your character. All you have to play with is that the person is real. The person has a purpose. The purpose for him specifically is to heal people, and he truly believes that he can help people. His mistake is his ego. There's a little bit of a god complex in him, but he truly believes that he is brilliant enough to be able to heal everyone,” he said.
To end his EW interview, Briones shared how he hopes the audiences would perceive Dr. Richard Hanover as well as the other characters on the show.
“In my opinion, I hope they see that you shouldn't judge people because these are real people with painful pasts, some really traumatic pasts. And when you see people acting a certain way or making a certain decision, we don't know where they came from, and we don't know what they went through.
“These are our flawed characters put together in this world of 'Ratched,' and these flawed characters are interacting and dealing with their hardships and hindrances the only way they know how. So, I think when audiences see this, they will realize that these people are just trying to survive and just trying to get through life and a lot of them actually did things out of love. So that makes it more human, and empathy is, I think, going to be granted eventually to these characters,” he said.
“Ratched” also stars Sharon Stone, Vincent D’Onofrio and Cynthia Nixon. It is now streaming on Netflix.