Dominik Garcia-Lorido Talks Magic City with Screen Spy
Magic City was renewed for a second season just days before its April 6th premiere on Starz. The much buzzed about show has continued to draw attention from critics and fans alike, with comparisons to The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men coming thick and fast. We recently sat down with City star Dominik Garcia-Lorido to talk about the show, her character Mercedes Lazaro, and how having a famous father (Andy Garcia) influences her approach to her work.
“I mean look, first of all that is a huge compliment,” Dominik says of the show comparisons. “And it’s very flattering because those shows are amazing. Our show takes place in 1959, so it’s in and around the same era as Mad Men and then our story lines are tied to the Mob, so there’s that connection to Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos but it’s really very different.
“It’s not a corporate office in Madison Avenue in New York. It’s set in Miami Beach in a hotel. It’s a very different background, centering on hotel life. As far as the ties to the Mob go, I would see more ties to The Godfather – which I think was the best movie of all time. It’s that era. It’s more about family. I think it’s its own thing. I think once people see the show and are a few episodes in, they’ll see how it really is its own thing.”
Dominik plays the role of Mercedes Lazaro, the daughter of the hotel’s manager and long time friend of Ike Morgan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Working part time as a housekeeper, Mercedes has ambitions to be a Pan Am Stewardess. However her ambitions are soon checked when her mother becomes trapped in the chaos of Castro’s regime. Dominik admits to being attracted to Mercedes’ unique sense of adventure and independence.
“The thing about Mercedes is I loved how modern she was for that era. I loved that she was a 21 year old Cuban Catholic girl who wanted to travel the world and not settle down and have her life be defined by a man like a lot of young women were doing at that age back then. That was the norm. She’s a girl who’s really independent. Her whole interest is in graduating from Pan Am school and being a stewardess and traveling. That’s what she’s really looking forward to doing. And love kind of catches her off-guard, as it does in life. And to be able to tell that story of first love was something I just really wanted to do.
Mercedes’ love-interest comes in the form of Danny Evans (played by Christian Cooke, Echo Beach, The Chase) and Dominik tells me their blossoming romance is not necessarily going to be the thing that shelves Mercedes’ plans
“I can’t say too much but I will say that the Mercy and Danny thing is not necessarily going to play out as a negative thing,” she hints. “I think the first issue for them is actually that friendship barrier. You know when you’re friends with someone first, and you have a good friendship with them? You’re scared to cross that line because you worry you’re going to ruin the friendship. But on the other hand, when things are evolving naturally, and it seems to be more than just a friendship – it’s sort of a case of them coming to terms with that at first. That’s really the first issue for them both. Everything else will start to unfold and you’ll see. I think it’s apparent even from the first episode.”
With a second season already green-lit, I ask Dominik how it feels to be part of a venture that has proved so successful at the outset.
“It’s pretty incredible. I know this isn’t the norm. It’s my first experience doing any sort of TV and I have to say, it’s not a bad first experience!” she laughs. “I think it puts faith in the audience numbers too. I’m grateful to Starz for having that sort of faith in us.”
Dominik has high praise for the large and diverse international cast and crew too. “I get along with these people so well,” she says. “They’ve become like a second family to me. I really love that we’re in Miami too. There’s no one else from Miami except for me and Yul Vasquez and Mitch Glazer. It’s just this melting pot of different cultures. Christian Cooke is from Leeds. Jessica Marais is from Perth, Australia, Olga Kurylenko is from Russia, we’ve got a couple of people from New York. Everyone’s from everywhere!
“We’ve all been separated during the hiatus so it’s great to be back together again. Mitch has done a really good job at casting good actors who work really hard and they’re well trained. We got to shoot this whole first season without any attention from the outside world. It became like our own special little thing. It felt like we were doing a play for five months that nobody saw. It was really private to us, and I know that won’t be the experience we have in any other seasons to come because it’s out there now, on the air and exposed. But it was very special, and we became very tight.”
So just how real is the Miramar Playa Hotel, in which the events of Magic City play out?
“They built the whole hotel Miramar Playa in this huge lot,” Dominik tells me. “The hotel set looked so real! And then we shot around Miami beach too. We used the Deauville pool and hotel and ballrooms, which is where Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole and the Beatles performed. So there’s a lot of history there. It was kind of amazing.”
It’s hard to end our discussion without some mention of Dominik’s famous father, Andy Garcia (The Untouchables, Ocean’s 12, The Godfather III). I can’t help but wonder if having a famous parent has been a help or a hindrance to a budding carer, or if it makes a difference either way.
“My dad’s never handed a part to me on a silver platter,” Dominik explains. “If my dad had given me any leeway in that respect, I would have broken into this industry in a bigger way a long time ago. This is actually my eighth pilot season and this is the first year I’ve booked any type of television. I’ve worked in independent films for the past ten years.
“I think it doesn’t make a difference to getting a part, but I think that when you have a part you always feel like you have to prove yourself to the audience and the fan base and anyone who might be watching,” she says after a moment’s consideration. “I imagine people are thinking ‘Is she really good, or did she just get this because of her dad? She probably never studied.’
Dominik did in fact study. She trained at the Lee Strasberg Studio and Sanford Meisner Institute and is also a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television.
“So in a way it kind of worked against me somewhat,” she says. “I always feel like I have to prove myself more to people because I can’t help thinking that in the back of their minds they’re skeptical!” she laughs. “Sometimes people are surprised if I know what I’m doing, or I did a good job. Are they more impressed because I’m the daughter of someone or more surprised?” She laughs again.
“It’s not … just neutral, you know? Sometimes it’s not just ‘You’re an actress, let’s see what you’ve got.’ It’s ‘Well you’re the daughter of Andy Garcia. Let’s see what you got.”
“But I don’t care. I use that as more motivation to work harder and prove people wrong,” she adds with a note of amusement.
Catch Dominik Garcia-Lorido in Magic City, Fridays on Starz.