Matt Cedeño (Brandon, DOOL) goes from Salem to the big screen this week when he stars in Price of Glory along with Jimmy Smits and Golden Gloves champion, Jon Seda.
Both Cedeño and Smits play the same character at different stages in life. Cedeño plays Arturo Ortega as a young fighter who's career is cut short. Jimmy Smits plays Ortega as an older man who demonstrates the quest for excellence through one father's journey to raise his family and train his gifted sons to become championship boxers.
"The story is about a man who has great potential as a boxer," explains Cedeño. "He has all this promise to go undefeated. But his management puts him into a fight that he's not quite ready to fight." And for what? "For money reasons," says Cedeño. "His opponent is way above his level, and it ends up stopping short his career. He fights him and basically gets pummeled!" The story then jumps ahead a few years when Jimmy Smits takes up the role.
Based on the stage play by former New York Times sports columnist Paul Berger, Cedeño was immediately interested in the part. "The number one thing that appealed to me, was that I would be playing the younger Jimmy Smits," says Cedeño. "I admire him and the work he's done on NYPD Blue and LA Law, and even some of his earlier films like Running Scared.
Due to the nature of the material, Cedeño never got to actually work with Smits, but did meet him several times during shooting. "He wanted to see who was representing the younger him," Cedeño said with a laugh. "He wanted to see if he was well represented."
Of course, I had to know if Cedeño filmed the movie and worked on Days at the same time.
"I had booked Days of Our Lives a couple of months prior to doing the movie," says Cedeño. "There was a four and a half month window of time between my booking Brandon on Days and when the storyline actually started. In that time, I both booked and filmed my part in Price of Glory. I had about a week of filming for the movie, and about three weeks of training in boxing prior to filming. The last day that I worked on Price of Glory was the day before I began taping Days!"
Born in Moses Lake, Washington, Cedeño, of Cuban/Irish/English descent, has always been active in sports and had an aspiring career towards pro-football when a debilitating knee injury abruptly brought that dream to an end. Renewed inspiration came when Cedeño was approached on his college campus by an acting manager with strong connections to Seattle's most elite modeling agencies. Before the school semester ended, Cedeño was off to Italy on a modeling assignment for Versace. "One day I was in school," recalls Cedeño, "and in two days I got my passport and flew over to Naples, Italy. (It was) very surreal!"
Cedeño then juggled academics (he was taking prerequisites for physical therapy) and a modeling career in Milan, Spain, New York and Los Angeles. Then, he relocated to Los Angeles on a permanent basis and studied with some of the industry's most respected acting coaches. He continues to enjoy sports such as boxing, soccer, baseball, and skiing, making him a natural for Price of Glory.
But what about Brandon? How does Cedeño think things are shaping up in Salem? I asked if Brandon had a thing for both Sami and Lexie!
"As soon as Brandon landed in town, he was pretty open about his attraction to Sami," Cedeño admits. "I met her, and I was talking to Lucas, I think it was, and I looked up and saw her and it was like BAM! Who was that? I was floored by her from the beginning. With Lexie, it's more gradual. Brandon is realizing he does have feelings for her. At first, he was just using her as a pawn to get at Abe."
Cedeño says that Brandon's mission is to destroy Abe. "When Brandon and Nicole were kids, their parents had problems. Their dad was an alcoholic. Cops always had to come around and put their father in jail. Brandon faults Abe for putting his Dad in jail, instead of just letting his parents try to work it out on their own. So that they could have been a family. There's probably deeper reasons than that, but that's what Brandon says on the show," Cedeño says with a laugh.
All in all, Cedeño is happy with the direction his character is going. "They are allowing me to play both the good and the bad in Brandon. He's really good with kids. Heart-warming. He's trying to make a difference in their lives. And he's charming with Sami and Lexie. Yet, at the same time, he is very dark and angry and mean towards Abe. I like that."
Cedeño hopes to see some romance for Brandon down the line. "I think it would be kind of hairy, even kind of ugly, if something developed with Lexie," laughs Cedeño. "It would be nice to stir up the Abe/Lexie marriage a little bit, because they've been too happy for too long. Their only problem right now is Lexie not being able to get pregnant by Abe. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I, you know, helped them out?"
Cedeño enjoys working with everyone in his storyline, especially Renee Jones (Lexie) and Alison Sweeney (Sami), and trusts the writers to create wonderful material. "If you have any questions about the direction of your story and you want to clarify anything, they are available to discuss things with you. But the writers pretty much put you in the direction. I had a meeting with Tom Lang and the executive producer and head writer when I first started. They outlined my character and everything that he said at that point has been falling into place. They have a plan, whatever it is, it is the right direction for them."
For aspiring actors Cedeño offers this advice: "Know that you can do it and continue to work hard. There are going to be ups and downs, but know that in the long run, if it's meant to be for you, then it will happen. It can be very stressful. Not knowing where the next job is coming from, or if that job will ever come. You have to believe in yourself."
Along with Days of Our Lives and Price of Glory, you can also see Cedeño as a Hawaiian surfer-turned-model in the feature film The Suburbans. A romantic comedy also starring Ben Stiller and Amy Brennerman, The Suburbans is coming soon from Sony Pictures Studios.
Price of Glory from New Line Cinema opens in theaters Friday, March 31, 2000. For more on Matt Cedeño visit his official website at mattcedeno.com
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