For Alberto Rosende Shadowhunters was his first big project as an actor. However, he quickly made a name for himself by playing Clary Fray’s quirky best friend. In this exclusive interview, Alberto looks back on his time on Shadowhunters and how it shaped him as an actor, and talks about which RosendeReads book he would like to see being made into a movie.
SDN: When you embarked on the Shadowhunters journey, did you imagine the extent that the show would grow to?
Alberto: No, I had no idea. I mean, after the initial audition when it was finally time to go to Los Angeles and get started on it for real… that’s when I started to do more research and kind of discovered that it was based on this huge book series that had sold like 30 million copies worldwide and was just this epic thing that had this fandom and then had had a movie, too. Then when I looked at the movie – I didn’t watch it until after season 1 – but I recognized it. I was like “I remember watching the trailer to that. Wow, this is going to be pretty big.” And there was that apprehension of like “Can we live up to what people are going to think, both from the books and the film?” But to think that it would get to this scale, like where now I’ve come to Paris for two years and I’ve been to Milan a couple of times and other places in the world to meet people who all love the show, no. I think it’s kind of a dream as an actor in a way, to have a piece that resonates with that many people and that has had the ability to positively affect that many people. That’s awesome, and I feel like that’s something people rarely come by in their career.
SDN: It’s crazy how much it has grown over the years. Especially the conventions, they were so small in the beginning, and now there’s just so many people.
Alberto: Oh yeah, I think Paris is like that. The first one was pretty big, but it was still smaller. I’ve seen pictures and stuff.
SDN: You played Simon for three seasons, and you went through a lot with that character. Do you miss anything about him now that you don’t portray him anymore, or is it just like you’re happy that his story came to an end in a satisfying way?
Alberto: No, I feel like I did have a lot of fun with him, so it’s cool that we kind of had to part ways. I was upset the show was going to end and I wasn’t going to get to play him anymore, but at the same time I feel like 55 episodes is better than most. I learned a lot, and I’m glad it happened. Now that it’s over, it’s cool to look back and be like “Wow, we did everything we did.” That’s a really cool journey.
SDN: You guys did an amazing job on the show. One of our favorite scenes from the finale was the training scene between Jace and Simon. It was just so fun seeing them banter around and just being silly. It felt like part of it was more you and Dominic having fun than anything else. Did you expect to get to shoot this kind of scene, and how did it feel on the day of shooting it?
Alberto: I had hoped that Simon’s storyline would go that way in season 4, if we were to get anything past that, with him just becoming more of an active fighting part of the team. So I’m glad we did get the chance to do it at least once. I’d always wanted to do a fight scene with Dom, Dom works so hard and he’s very good at it, so I knew that would have been one of the things I wanted to check off the box before the show ended, and I’m glad I got to. It was Jace and Simon, but it was me and Dom. We knew it was the last time we were going to get to do that in that setting, and we worked really hard on it. Dom helped me through some of the technical things, and we really got to have a lot of fun. It’s not shocking that you guys saw that, because every minute of it was so much fun.
SDN: It was so much fun to watch. Dominic said earlier actually that he could imagine Simon becoming a more important part of the Institute. How do you feel about that?
Alberto: I agree, it would make sense. I mean he’s being trained by Jace, who is the epic, ultimate warrior, and the Head of the Institute is Isabelle, who has always seen Simon for this amazing spirit that he is. He spent the last however long with the elite team, experiencing what was happening at the height of that world, with Valentine and then Jonathan and Lilith. He was always a part of it, so he has wisdom and battlefield knowledge so to speak. So yeah, it makes total sense that he would be up there. And having also lost people, that’s kind of given him a perspective and a wisdom to the fighting, not just “Oh, it’s cool,” it also needs to be done. He’s earned that.
SDN: Yeah, he grew up so much. Now that you’ve spoken of losing people – Simon lost his best friend at the end of the show. How did he feel about that, how do you think he got through that time?
Alberto: I think in the same way that he did with his parent, with his mom. At least it’s not worse. Clary may have lost her memories, but she’s still Clary. Simon could probably… although he says he doesn’t, I think he maybe does check in on her once in a while, maybe on her birthday every year. Walks by and just tries to be like “Happy birthday,” or he goes somewhere where they spent a lot of time. Yeah, I wouldn’t be shocked if he goes somewhere where they spent a lot of time and he bumped into her once, and she was like “Huh.” You know, something like that but never intentionally. Because he also was aware of the stakes and that’s why he kind of put Jace in his place there, and was like “Yo. She’s not dead. We didn’t lose her. We’ve lost her, but if you love her, you have to be able to let her live her life, and let her have a life. Because by doing this you’re jeopardizing that, we don’t know what the next thing the Angels will do [is].” You don’t want to screw with that. The stakes of that are so high, Simon’s disciplined in certain ways. But I still think he goes and checks in on his mom every once in a while, in whatever way he can.
SDN: He’s always been a family kind of guy.
Alberto: Yeah, exactly.
SDN: Shadowhunters was one of your first big acting gigs. What have you learned from playing Simon for so long and starting off working on such a big production?
Alberto: I got kind of thrown into the deep end of the pool. Like a lot of the time you do a few smaller things, and slowly the scale of what you do gets bigger. But everyone has a different journey; for some people it’s that, for some people it’s BIG-small-big-small, or small-small-small-big, or whatever that is. But I got three years of being on set almost every day, working with different directors, different actors, going on location, learning how set works in terms of etiquette and scheduling. I feel like I grew up a little bit as an actor, like I got to have a solid form of education secondary to what I studied in school, which was not the real world, it was still study. And then I got to have a really cool environment with a bunch of now really close friends, to explore and learn again. So I feel like, although that was my first big job in the industry, I feel like my career could literally just be starting now because at the time, I didn’t know what that was. It was still me learning, and I feel like I’ll never stop, though. I’ll always be learning on set.
SDN: Speaking of your career, is there anything you can tease about what you’re going to do next, or share about what you would want to do?
(A/N: The interview took place a few weeks before it was announced that Alberto had been cast on Chicago Fire.)
Alberto: I know I would want to work with actors that I really respect. People that I can really learn from. I had three years with this cast, and it was incredible. And I’m hoping to have a similar experience of learning, where no matter the scale or the size of my role, I get the chance to learn as much and learn from people that have been doing it longer than me, that have had different experiences than me. Push myself into something that I haven’t done yet.
SDN: Like what?
Alberto: I honestly don’t know. With Simon, I got to do a lot. I got to do comedy a little bit, but I also got to do some heavier things and I got to do some physical things and some fantasy. I checked off a lot of boxes. So I don’t know, maybe something that’s more period. Maybe something that is a film, not a TV show, because those are shot very differently. There’s a million examples like that; little things, but now it’s just getting on more sets and realizing that they all work a little differently, but they’re all kind of the same.
SDN: Let’s talk about your book club Rosende Reads. The stories that you speak about on Rosende Reads are obviously important to you. What is the earliest memory that you can connect to your passion for reading, or books in general?
Alberto: When I was a little kid, my dad used to read to me before bed, and we read The Count of Monte Cristo. So every night he would read I don’t know how many pages, but he’d read until I fell asleep, and we finished it. It was an abridged version, that book is very long if you don’t know. I had it on the list for Rosende Reads at one point until I bought the book and I was like “This is like 2,000 pages. We can’t be reading this book for a year,” or for however many weeks it would have been. I was like “No, we can’t do this in this setting,” but I’m still trying to figure out a way we can. But yeah, that was my earliest memories, him reading to me to go to bed when I was four years old or something.
SDN: From the books you’ve talked about on Rosende Reads so far, is there one that you could or you would want to see adapted on screen?
Alberto: Quite a few of them, really. Some of them have, but I think they’re due for another go-around. 1984 was done in, I want to say the late eighties with I think Jeremy Irons. I don’t remember what year, it was written in 1949. Maybe it was in the seventies, but I think it’s due for a revamp, a good 1984 again. Because now we have the technology to really make that as scary as it should be, the idea of Big Brother constantly– I mean we’re all carrying telescreens everywhere. It’s cool that it’s that level, I would love to see that again. Same thing with Slaughterhouse Five, there was an adaptation maybe in the seventies or eighties again, but I would love to see it again, because the technology we have available to make fantasy stuff real is super cool now, and I think it could be really well done.
SDN: It could be almost an entirely different story, if you think about it like that. There’s so much different stuff you can include now.
Alberto: Exactly. So a lot of them could be an option for that.
SDN: For the past few months we’ve had the pleasure to see some stunning pictures that you took on set or in other settings. Photography seems to be a passion of yours as well.
Alberto: I think it’s more of a hobby for me.
SDN: What made you pursue photography?
Alberto: My brother is a photographer, director, filmmaker type of person, and being on set I just love the way things were shot. And I think you can see that in the finale, I think that’s beautifully shot. There are a couple of shots where I’m like “Ohh, that’s beautiful.” Like the shot with Magnus and Alec and then it pans out into Izzy and Simon in between them when they turn and talk. I was like “That’s beautiful, that’s cool.” And then Isaiah also is a photographer, and him and I started talking about it around the same time my brother and I started talking about it. My brother gave me his old camera and taught me a few things. It just really helped on set to know a little bit more about what we do, not just from an acting perspective but from how they’re actually going to try to capture it and why, and what it means. And I think it’s just fun. It’s a really interesting way to see a city, or people. I think people are sometimes unaware of how they frame the world in their own mind, and I think photography helps you kind of see that.
SDN: Yeah, it opens up horizons. Because you show us what you see with your eyes, like how you take it in.
Alberto: Yeah, and I think that’s something I’m really interested in trying to figure out for myself, too.
We hope you enjoyed this interview! Thank you to Alberto Rosende for once again taking the time to chat with us. Make sure to follow his adventures as firefighter Blake Gallo on Chicago Fire, airing Wednesdays on NBC. And if you’d like to read our first interview with Alberto or some more interviews with his Shadowhunters cast mates, check out the interview section on our website!
Oh… it looks like the whole team took part in creating this article!