Kevin Alejandro switches to his “player/manager” mode for Friday night’s “Fire Country” fall finale on CBS.
The veteran actor (“Lucifer,” “True Blood,” “Southland”) — who stars in the hit freshman series about convict firefighter training — also directed the episode (9 p.m.), in which his character, Cal Fire Captain Manny Perez is faced with a life-or-death decision when a car is hit by a hit-and-run driver and dangerously wedged between a guardrail. It’s a wrong move not to throw himself into the river with his two occupants, one of whom is unconscious, as Bode (Max Thieriot), Vince (Billy Burke) and the “Fire Country” crew argue over how to avoid casualties.
“It’s a lot of pressure to know that’s it [midseason] Finale, but it’s also a great honor because there are people who trust you enough to say, ‘You know what, I think you can do this, let’s move on,'” Alejandro, 46, told The Post. “I knew I was going to direct an episode this season, I just didn’t know which one.”
This isn’t Alejandro’s first rodeo behind the camera. He directed five episodes of the Fox/Netflix series Lucifer, in which he played Det. Dan Espinoza, including the penultimate episode (“Goodbye, Lucifer”) of his sixth and final season.
And after filming the Fire Country pilot, Alejandro was hired to direct Episode 6 of the upcoming Disney+ series National Treasure, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
“I got my directing experience at that level on ‘Lucifer,'” he said. “[Creator] Joe Henderson and showrunner Ildy Modrovich … said, “You will [direct]? We’re going to make sure that by the end of this show, you won’t have any trouble getting a directing job afterwards.’ They threw me some of their biggest episodes and … and when I got off that show, people were like, ‘Okay, he’s been given some pretty big responsibilities. Let’s not overlook that.’”
Part of Alejandro’s challenge directing Fire Country was balancing the different tones in context and pacing (action vs. a supernatural dramedy) versus Lucifer.
“Lucifer was about composing the perfect frames and moving the camera gracefully,” he said. “It was about the emotions of the characters. Both shows are similar in many aspects, however [‘Fire Country’] is grittier and we run with the actors [with a camera] and passed from actor to actor. It’s not so much about the composition as it is about how beautiful “Lucifer” turned out – this is raw and gritty and it leans into that handheld style. It’s almost like documentary filmmaking at times.
“I have seven full episodes to watch [before directing Friday night’s episode],” he said. “I had an ‘on-set class’ on how to direct the show, so I was in that at the time [director’s] chair I knew what I was doing. You can’t sneak through there.”
Alejandro said that as with “Lucifer” and “National Treasure,” the producers of “Fire Country” made sure he was up to speed on the show — though he didn’t need much help in that department.
“One of the perks of being an actor/director on a show is that you get the opportunity to read every single script from day one, which I did through episode 8,” he said. “I know everyone’s journey. I had the opportunity not only to read the scripts but also to see what the other directors had done and to see the pace of the show as they edited everything together, so that was tremendously helpful.
“I’m also the type of actor who tries to say as much as possible on set,” he said. “I spend very little time in my trailer and I also stand up for myself. I never went to film school like that This is my film school; I’m on the set, talking to the camera crew and learning the technical aspects. So when I’m in the director’s chair, I understand the vocabulary and know what they’re talking about. It’s a huge puzzle as you progress through the episode, but I love puzzles, thank goodness.”
CBS renewed Fire Country for the entire season, so viewers will see a lot more of Manny when the series returns on January 6 after Friday night’s episode.
“One of the first things that drew me to the character was knowing that he was a person who had a lot of responsibilities, taking on firefighters and letting them know there was light at the end of the tunnel. [that] There is a chance for redemption,” he said. “I love that Manny went through the same system.
“One of the most important things about his journey up to this point is that you see him with that strength … but you also see him falter, you see him tremble and sometimes not make the right decision,” he said, “but he has the ability to pull himself back out so he can stay on the right track in life.”
https://nypost.com/2022/12/06/fire-country-star-kevin-alejandro-directs-cbs-dramas-cliffhanger-fall-finale/ ‘Fire Country’ star Kevin Alejandro is directing the cliffhanger fall finale of the CBS drama