TV

Actress Kate del Castillo followed her heart, landing at Telemundo

Kate del Castillo was only 6 years old when she decided to become an actress. She and her sister had accompanied their father, actor Eric del Castillo, to the theater in her native Mexico.

"I will never forget. I went with him and he was in a play called 'Salome,' and I remember being backstage with my sister being nosy and mischievous. And I saw this actress preparing backstage in this beautiful costume, and I was overwhelmed," she recalls.

"It was something I felt inside," she touches her heart. "And then I opened the curtain just a little to see and I will never forget, the theater was shaped like a horseshoe. It had balconies, and it was full. And I was like, 'Oh, my God, I need to be on this side!"

Three years later she made her first movie with her father's independent movie cooperative.

"I thought, that's what I wanted to do, but I was too afraid and insecure, which I still am in so many ways," says del Castillo.

"But I didn't know if I wanted to tell my parents that was going to be something serious and not only because I wanted to be famous or be on TV or in the movies. So I waited until I was very old, already working and couldn't go to school any more, because I was working a lot. So I was 15, 16, I told my parents that I really wanted to be an actress and I wanted it to be my life, to be my career."

Her father objected, she says, wanting to protect her from the rejection that actors face. But she was determined.

She starred in a series of telenovelas and became a hot ticket all over Latin America when she portrayed a drug trafficker in the popular "La Reina del Sur" eight years ago. Next Monday she returns to the role airing on Telemundo with English subtitles. It's nine years later since her character disappeared into the witness protection program, and the show picks up where it left off. "I've aged nine years," she laughs, "the first season I was pregnant, now I have a 9-year-old kid."

During the interim, del Castillo was pounding out the telenovelas, but says she grew bored. "I've always been grateful for the telenovelas because I learned so much and they gave me the name – at least in Mexico," she says.

"But I was bored and I think I was a little bit bitter because telenovela actresses and movie actresses, it's like you do one or the other. They didn't want me at all. They didn't offer me nothing except the telenovelas, and I was bored and said, 'I don't want to keep doing this anymore because I love my job, working and going on set for me is a privilege and I'm happy and thankful, but it cannot be like that because it feels wrong in my gut.'

So I said, 'I think I'm going to do something else because if nobody's going to hire me to do something that's challenging, then I'd rather quit.'"

But she didn't quit. She headed for Los Angeles instead, hoping to spike her career there. "When I got to L.A. it was really, really tough," admits del Castillo. "I was by myself. I was divorcing my first husband. I was starting my whole thing from scratch, back to square one ... Nobody knew who I was so it was really hard. And there was a time I didn't work at all. I was studying, studying and running out of money and I was like, 'God, this is so hard. I think I should go back to my comfort zone.' I thought it, but I never did it."

The divorce exacerbated things, she says. "It was a very awful marriage, very violent, abusive and horrible, and I was already well known so the whole thing came down because I asked for the divorce," she says.

"It's embarrassing when you're going through it, but to make it public is horrible. That's one of the reasons I decided to come here."

After two years she began landing roles in projects like "Bordertown," "Weeds" and "Julia."

Although she often considered it, she never moved back to Mexico. She continues to work here and says the thing lacking in her life is a soul mate.

"I was married twice, I don't want to be married again. I don't believe in marriage. It's been like eight years since I fell in love with someone, and I think it's the right time now. I needed those years. I dated, but nothing serious, nothing that will get into my heart, so I think I'm ready," she nods.

"I know out there my image is a tough woman and very independent, which I am. I am also very vulnerable. And I'm tough because I am vulnerable, there's not one without the other. There are times it gets hard, and I'd like to have a man with me who would support me in every single way – not economically – but somebody I could rely on emotionally and is not going to be a police officer or like a dad: 'Don't do this, don't do that.' Just someone who will grab my hand and walk together."

SITCOM EXAMINES THE RUSTIC LIFE

People often dream of moving to the sticks and living the idyllic rustic life. But is it really what it's cracked up to be? ABC has the answer Tuesday when it premieres its new sitcom, "Bless this Mess," starring Lake Bell and Dax Shepard. The show is about a big city couple – with Starbucks in one hand and a phone in the other – who decide to move to a farm in Nebraska. Once there, they are suddenly faced with a collapsing roof, neighbors who just "drop in" and encountering an actual cow face to face.

Shepard says he's sung his own homeowner's lament when he bought his first home in L.A. "I renovated it right before I moved in. And there was a period where they said it would be done, and I had scheduled to move in. Of course, it was not done, but I moved in anyways.

"And I was dead asleep, and I'll try to edit out the F-bombs – but I wake up hearing, 'What mother?' 'No, – – you.' 'What?' Then I hear a scuffle break out, and I walk out in my underwear, and there's two guys that are laying hardwood floor fully engaged in fisticuffs in the living room. That's a bad remodeling story when the workers fight on the property. And I said, 'You gotta do this on the street. I don't want to be liable for this.'"

ZOOLOGIST FISHES FOR DEEP WATER MONSTERS

Something fishy is up with Jeremy Wade again. Wade, best remembered for his "River Monsters" series, will be back Sunday with a new aquatic show, "Jeremy Wade's Deep Water Monsters," on Animal Planet.

Here Wade will forego the river monsters and seek out the fabled deep water denizens that have puzzled people for ages. Wade will investigate reports that entire fish species have suddenly disappeared, sightings of unknown beasts or claims of genetic aberrations that have resulted in ginormous sea monsters.

The British zoologist, who loved to fish as a kid, says he made a series for Discovery Europe in 2002. "It was based on the arapaima. It took me six years going to the Amazon three months at a time to actually track down the arapaima," he says. "That's commonly said to be the biggest freshwater fish in the world. Nobody knows for sure, but a lot of people think so."

His deep fascination with water creatures continues. "I think from my point of view, my position is that fishing is one area of life where you've still got real mystery, where you can't just go to a textbook or the internet or whatever. You just have to go and find out for yourself."

PBS SERIES STUDIES THE WORLD OF IDEAS

It's hard to imagine how various inventions have changed the world in the ways the internet has. But that's not the only innovation that altered lives. And some of those are the subject of a new series on PBS, "Breakthrough: Ideas that Changed the World," premiering Wednesday. Think where we'd be if Alexander Graham Bell hadn't thought of the telephone or if Samuel Morse hadn't tapped out his little code.

These are just two of the visionaries covered in the new six-part series, which starts with the invention of the telescope. Sometimes the inventions came from hours of arduous work, sometimes from happy accidents, sometimes from mere observation.

(Luaine Lee is a California-based correspondent who covers entertainment for Tribune News Service.)

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