Nestor Carbonell, who plays weatherman Yanko Flores in the hit Apple TV+ show "The Morning Show," hopes that fans will still like his character in season two.
“I felt a lot of sympathy from women and men from the first season,” Carbonell told NBC News in a video interview. “I hope that’s the case in season two when Yanko steps into it and someone threatens to cancel him.”
Carbonell plays an endearing meteorologist who is committed to his work. But he's romantically involved with Claire Conway (played by Bel Powley), a production assistant, in season one.
However, after Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) gets abruptly terminated for sexual misconduct as co-host of UBA’s "The Morning Show," Carbonell’s character struggles to explain what he perceives as an innocent but complex relationship with the younger production assistant.
“He feels he may be judged by HR for being involved in a dynamic that is not appropriate and he feels completely innocent of that,” Carbonell said, “but doesn’t know how to explain it to them."
For Carbonell, this stressful situation creates an opportunity for him to interpret a likable character who can represent ordinary people stuck in morally ambiguous situations.
“I think the key for him that’s interesting for me to play is that he’s a character that is underappreciated at work. And now, this season more so than ever, really misunderstood. Particularly by his own boss,” Carbonell said.
Season one was praised for the way it built up to a tough and shocking ending, showing the different angles around workplace gender and sexual dynamics, including sexual misconduct and issues around the #MeToo movement.
Carbonell, who is Cuban American and is known to many for his role in the series "Lost," says "The Morning Show" tackles topics that are topical and controversial in bold ways.
For Carbonell, taking time on screen to show these issues through the uncomfortable perspectives of different characters adds more depth and reality.
“There’s a lot of talk about ‘why is this character given so much air time,’ you know, ‘they’re rendering the character sympathetic’,” he said. “But I love that the writers did that. They were there to sort of inform the different points of view through these characters without passing their own judgment on any given issue.”
Season two promises to stir up viewers even more as characters aim to hold up a mirror to ongoing issues, including cancel culture, racism, Covid-19 and the 2020 presidential election.
“The show presents the points of view of these issues through these characters in a way that it could be polarizing and certainly has fomented a lot of discussion,” he said.
Carbonell says that as an actor, he often finds himself seeking out the complexity of each character that he plays on screen.
“Like any actor, you get into this business to try and stretch beyond who you are,” he said. “So it’s a dream to get to play roles that are closer to you as it is to play roles that are so completely far from you in terms of identity, in terms of your nationality.”
Carbonell, whose sister was a reporter for Telemundo and Fox, identifies as an American of Cuban heritage—his parents exiled to New York in 1960.
“I very much consider myself an American, extremely grateful for everything that this country has afforded me for sure. But absolutely honor my Cuban heritage, my Latino heritage,” he said.
When asked about what attracts him to playing Yanko Flores on screen, Carbonell says that the character fits in with other characters that he has played in the past.
“I typically play characters that have a darker edge to them. And Yanko does. There’s a darkness to him, but only as a result of his heart getting broken,” he said. “And you can see a bit of darkness creep into this guy, who’s really an optimist.”
Carbonell says that this darkness will overtake his character even more when he’s canceled in season two and his personality becomes more jaded.
“So, what can you do when you see all these little anchovies belly up in the water?" his character asks a couple of people at a bar in episode 10 of season one, as he's describing the weather phenomenon of El Niño as a harbinger of something destructive. “You just keep on moving. And you brace yourself for the s---storm.”