Since his Oscar nomination, the L.A. resident (“I go to Mexico all the time, but consider myself an Angeleno”) has been burning up Tinseltown, which is only appropriate given his next film, The Heat, his first American comedy in which he plays an FBI agent. Oh, yeah, and it also co-stars Academy Award nominee Melissa McCarthy and Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock. He acts opposite Diane Kruger in FX’s gritty TV drama The Bridge, premiering in July, followed by the indie film Don Hemingway with Jude Law and Emilia Clarke. The affable actor is happy to talk about his ascent in Hollywood and his L.A. faves—just don’t ask him where he shops. “I hate shopping!” he laughs. “I just let other people do it for me.” —Jessica Radloff
What was it like to experience the Oscars as a nominee?
It’s a lot of fun to be a part of that small group of nominees, and in an industry where there is so much competition and so much talent everywhere. It’s a pretty big deal, but it’s really about the work that you do. My work is what got me there, so going through a red carpet or ceremonies, it’s very exciting, but it isn’t overwhelming because there isn’t anything else I could do.
How has your career changed since then?
I think most people in the industry know who I am [now], and I have been getting some really nice offers from fantastic directors that I’ve wanted to work with.
What have you learned about the entertainment industry in the past few years?
I don’t play games, I take it seriously. The only way you can keep up with it is if you are serious [and] determined, and work really hard. That’s pretty much the way any great actor or director is.
What was it like working with two of the funniest ladies in Hollywood for The Heat?
There’s a lot of improv going on. Most of my scenes were with Sandra, and I remember laughing in tears between takes. She’s really funny, and sexy and beautiful and a wonderful actor. It had been a long time since I laughed that hard.
I hear you taught her Spanish.
I’m not kidding, I was her Spanish coach! She had to talk in Spanish a bit [during the movie]. Her Spanish is not only great [once] she learned it, but her accent is great, too. I mean, she could be Mexican!
Now that you’re a local, what’s one of your favorite neighborhood spots in L.A.?
Kings Road Cafe. All my fellow countrymen give me the best service there. It pretty much became my office. They have huevos rancheros that are so close to the real thing. I always have to have their fantastic coffee because it’s some of the best in Los Angeles.
Where do you find authentic Mexican food?
Everyone here tries to Americanize Mexican restaurants by throwing limes and sour cream on everything, but there’s this fantastic place on Melrose and Cahuenga called Tere’s Mexican Grill. You will find homemade tortillas and great tacos.
Any other favorite eats?
I love Katsuya. I used to go to Koi, but they are so pretentious, man! It’s like they are giving you the chance to go in and dine there. Even if you make a reservation, they still make you wait. For a great rib-eye on the bone, I go to Bandera. For burgers, I go to The Apple Pan. The people there have become my friends.
Besides eating out, how do you like to spend your free time?
I love to go to the movies—the Landmark on Pico. They are my friends there, too, and the seats are fantastic!
The Apple Pan 10801 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A., 310.475.3585
Bandera 11700 Wilshire Blvd., Brentwood, 310.477.3524
Katsuya 6300 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323.871.8777
Kings Road Cafe 8361 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 323.655.9044
Landmark Theatres 10850 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A., 310.470.0492
Tere’s Mexican Grill 5870 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.468.9345