Stumptown star Adrian Martinez tells why it’s a unique TV crime drama

Photo: Adrian Martinez.. Photo courtesy Diana Ragland/Courtesy of PR Machine
Photo: Adrian Martinez.. Photo courtesy Diana Ragland/Courtesy of PR Machine /

Stumptown’s Adrian Martinez tells Precinct TV what made the show stand out to him, why Cobie Smulders is a badass, and his advice for aspiring actors.

Stumptown isn’t the typical TV crime drama, and Adrian Martinez explained to Precinct TV exactly what makes it stand out within the genre.

The actor, who stars as Dex Parios’ informant and friend Tookie, connected with Precinct TV to tell us what hooked him on the ABC series. He also spoke about working with the impressive cast, the importance of diversity, and what he’d say to anyone who wants to be an actor.

Plus, he recommended some of his favorite past roles for TV crime drama fans to check out!

Learn more about Adrian Martinez in our interview below, before a new Stumptown episode on ABC tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

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Precinct TV: What interested you in Stumptown? What would you say makes the show worth watching?

Adrian Martinez: I was drawn to the fact that it wasn’t anything that I typically read. First, it had an empowering female lead—kind of like a beautiful version of The Rockford Files—which is something I don’t always see.

I don’t see many projects based in Portland, except Portlandia, but this project had action, comedy, [and] drama, and I don’t see too many action dramedies either, so I felt like it had great potential.

PTV: Fans may not know it’s based on a comic book series. Did you read the original material?

AM: I did and I enjoyed them. I got a chance to meet Greg Rucka when we went to San Diego Comic-Con and when I shot the pilot; this guy really bleeds Portland. He is one of the producers keeping us on point and authentic to the spirit of Portland.

PTV: What’s your process for seeing the character of Tookie on the page and deciding how you wanted to portray him? How did you get from the Stumptown pilot script to what we see on the screen?

AM: The fact that he’s the only Latino character of the series regulars was an opportunity for me to step up for my peeps and try to bring a very authentic, three-dimensional person to the screen. That’s very important to me. I’ve been talking to the writers and to Jason Reitman, the creator of the show, and just offering them ideas and things I feel would flesh out Tookie. They’ve been very open and receptive.

PTV: How much change do you go through as Stumptown‘s first season goes on and you learn more about Tookie and get more comfortable with him?

AM: You’re giving birth to a baby. It’s kind of like you’re in the lab and you’re like, “Let’s make his eyes hazel; let’s make him cute,” and you’re just ringing in all these different characteristics to make the three-dimensional person. I didn’t have the advantage of [the character] being in the graphic novels, but I feel like it’s important that this type of person be in the show.

One of the things that I love about ABC and Disney is that they really believe in diversity. I’m not only in this show, I’m also Elliot the dog catcher in [the Disney Plus live-action movie] Lady and the Tramp. They back up diversity with their money, and they’re trying to make [Stumptown] a multicultural and diverse show.

That’s really important because that’s what the world is like. We’re all connected to each other by our phone instantaneously and we need a product that reflects that.

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PTV: What’s in store for Tookie in the rest of Stumptown season 1?

AM: Be on the lookout for things you didn’t quite see coming. One of the things I love about this show is that they’re willing to do more and more as it defines itself as a show; they take risks. That’s important because the audience has seen and heard everything, so it’s really the depth of your risk-taking that keeps the audience coming back.

To their credit, they’re doing that. You’re going to see Tookie a lot more than just inside the food truck and having relationships that are surprising yet authentic with other cast members.

PTV: Speaking of the cast, that’s the show’s biggest asset; it’s an experienced and really fun ensemble. What’s it like working with the rest of the regulars?

AM: They’re winners! Every single one of them. Whatever self-doubt and self-loathing you may have as a person just kind of floats away when you walk into a room with these winners.

Cobie is a winner; she’s just fantastic. Sometimes she’s doing two episodes at the same time, and she’s got two kids and Taran Killam is her husband. She’s in every scene of this show, and she’s doing stunt work, and she’s doing this and that; she’s one of the producers. And you never hear a whisper of complaining or whining. She’s as professional as it gets, and she’s the captain of the ship, so since she’s that incredible, it falls on the rest of us to aspire to that as much as possible.

I show up grateful and excited to work, and I had an opportunity on one episode to work with Camryn Manheim, who is an Emmy and Golden Globe winner, which was a thrill. I remember her from The Practice. She’s as cool as it gets.

And then you have the newcomer in Cole Sibus, who plays [Dex’s brother] Ansel. I think he’s going to be a game-changer because he’s a really good actor who happens to have this condition. I’m proud of him and he’s really teaching me all about gratitude. He’s doing things like using Instagram, he’s hugging everybody, he’s so psyched to be there. And for a guy like myself who’s been doing this for a while it’s good to see that energy, that gratitude. It keeps me going. It’s been a real thrill.

PTV: What’s another Adrian Martinez role that you’d want Stumptown fans to check out?

AM: Absolutely everything I’ve done. (laughs) Actually, I did a movie called Focus with Will Smith and Margot Robbie which came out a few years ago and deserved a better fate. I played Farhad in that, and people who saw it would come up to me and say “You were really funny in that,” so that’s one.

There’s a really good indie that also deserved a better fate called It’s Kind of a Funny Story with myself and Zach Galifianakis, Keir Gilchrist from Atypical and Viola Davis; it’s a terrific cast. It’s about a teenager struggling with suicide idealization and how he overcomes it. I have a supporting role in that, but a teenager once saw me in Grand Central [Station] and she was like “You were in Kind of a Funny Story, right?” And I was like “Yeah!” She said, “That movie saved my life, so thank you.” And I thought to myself wow, maybe that’s what this is all about.

PTV: Is there anything you’d want to say to fans or that you’d want them to know about you?

AM: I would have to say any actor or actress starting out in the business: just understand that there’s a price for this ticket and that price is perseverance. You’ve heard it before. No one wants to hear it—it’s not a sexy word—but people always seem to feel in this culture that there’s got to be an inside way, and there isn’t. You have to put in the time. If you’re prepared to do the work and persevere, good things will happen; but you have to put in the time and God knows I have.

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Stumptown airs Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.