Jesse Camacho, the first-ever Courageous Nerd interview guest, returns to chat about Season 2 of hit Netflix drama Locke & Key. He also discusses new web series Cross Rhodes, which he co-wrote.
In addition to his role as “Doug” on Locke & Key, Jesse Camacho also starred as the lead character “Sheldon Blecher” on Less Than Kind.
Jesse also happens to be the son of fellow actors Mark Camacho (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and Pauline Little.
Less Than Kind ran between 2008-2013, spanning four seasons, including a move from CityTV after the first season had aired. Meanwhile, it was recently announced Locke & Key will return for its second season in October 2021.
This interview has been condensed for length and clarity. Listen to the full conversation on our YouTube channel, linked below.
Welcome back Jesse! Thanks for taking the time to speak with us again.
Jesse Camacho (JC): Thanks for having me back! As we found out, it’s been almost a year to the day. That’s crazy.
As you’ve menrioned, it’s been about a year since we last spoke. What have you been up to during that time?
JC: It was kind of crazy, everything was sort of up in the air when we last spoke. I’ve been very, very lucky. I was in Montreal at the time with my parents. Then, came back to Toronto to shoot Season 2 of Locke & Key, which was fantastic. I ended up moving out and getting my own place, so that’s been great. Working on a couple of projects here and there, just really kind of getting my feet back under me after a crazy year and seeing what’s next.
I recently turned 30, which is a big thing and just kind of getting through the mini quarter-life crisis and continuing forward. Things have been great.
Of course, congratulations on the recent announcement that Locke & Key will be back in October 2021. Without giving anything too specific away, what can you tease about Season 2?
JC: It’s really incredible. I’m super, super excited for fans to see it. Netflix really gave a great boost of confidence when they renewed for Season 2 and Season 3, they’re shooting Season 3 right now. I can’t comment if I’m involved in that or not, you’ll have to watch Season 2. I would say it’s everything you loved about Season 1 ramped up to 11. The scripts are crazy intense, it’s scarier, funnier, more tragic, darker; all those fun things. I think what I can say is that I got to work with some people I didn’t get to work with in Season 1. That’s really cool.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, how was the atmosphere in returning to set when Season 2 production began?
JC: It was a pretty… I use the word intense. It wasn’t intense for the actors but it was pretty intense for the crew. It was interesting how quickly it became the new normal. Basically, we were on a 3-cast-a-week routine. We would go in – if you worked that week – myself, I’m sort of sporadically on the show. When I would work, I would go in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I would get not the really deep test or nose swab, kind of a light nose swab. If you didn’t hear anything, it means you were negative. Obviously, if you heard, you were positive. The crew all wore masks, gowns, goggles and gloves.
The cast, we had these face shields that we wore. Only when we were shooting were we allowed to take them off. It was a process that worked and from what I understand, is still working. There were a couple isolated cases, I believe. I don’t even know who it was. We never had an outbreak, never had to shut down production. I can talk about this… the closest thing for me was that right after we wrapped Season 2, I actually caught COVID. I was super, super lucky… whether I was on hiatus or actually done with the show, I won’t say. It fell in a window that was okay and it was super mild for me. I lost my sense of smell, had a head cold for a week and was fine. It was intense, but it was worth it. The crew deserve all the praise for that, they really do.
Fans already know that Brendan Hines (Suits, The Tick) has joined the cast, as well as your co-workers Aaron Ashmore and Hallea Jones becoming series regulars. To what extent would you say these cast changes impact the dynamic seen on-screen?
JC: I guess Brendan was probably the one that was most unknown. I think I can mention too, she just announced it; my friend Leishe Mayboom has joined the show for Season 2 as a character named Abby. I can’t so more than that, but she’s wonderful. I think what’s so great about Locke & Key is that everyone just loves being there so much. It’s just having so much fun. I said this and I thought people felt like I was being political about it, but it’s true. Everyone loved each other and had so much fun that I would like to think for Brendan and Leishe coming in, they just melded right into that. It’s weird for me now to think about Season 1 without those two. They just so effortlessly fit in.
For Hallea and Aaron, they were already on the show so it’s just getting to see more of them. I think everyone’s going to really like the stuff that they have. For Haella, Aaron, Brendan’s character… it’s wonderful. Really, really cool.
From a personal standpoint, I always love working with Hallea because she’s a dear friend. I’m a big, big fan of Aaron’s; he’s the coolest dude and the way he carries himself on set and all that stuff. I just really admire him. Another one from Season 1 was Laysla [De Oliveira], who played Dodge, who was wonderful. One thing we do know about Dodge is that they can take many different forms. Darby [Stanchfield], Jackson [Robert Scott], Connor [Jessup], it’s such a stacked group. Someone I really looked up since beore the show was Aaron – any opportunity to either work with him or sit on set and talk to him, I really really loved.
And of course, Season 1 ended with a shocking revelation about Gabe (Griffin Gluck). Do you think Doug has any reason to suspect his fellow Savini Squad member is up to no good?
JC: I think especially where we’ve left them off in Season 1… the last time you really saw the Savinis, obviously, things were pretty contentious with Kinsey (played by Emilia Jones). She led us into the cave and we lost all of our equipment. I think Doug’s priorities maybe weren’t… Doug doesn’t know about the keys, he doesn’t know about magic. Whether or not that’s still the case, I can’t say. I would definitely think that whatever Dodge is planning, whatever their long-term goal is… eventually, they’re going to have to make a move that’s evident.
Whether it’s Doug or someone else on the show, I definitely think we’re going to be in for a real big treat in terms of when and if things come to light. Where Doug is concerned, I think his priorities are different, you know? He wants to make movies, wants to hang out with his friends. Maybe that changes, you never know.
Moving away from Locke & Key, you also co-wrote the new web series Cross Rhodes, starring Erica Deutschman. How did you end up becoming involved in this project?
JC: That’s super fun and I’m loving the fact that people are enjoying it. It really stemmed from my friendship with Erica, we go way back. We did a movie together. Erica is one of the most deceptively intelligent people I’ve ever met in my life. That’s on me to say that, it’s not a very kind thing to say. Of course, she looks intelligent. Erica and I would go out, drink and have all these fun times.
She would say things sometimes that were so funny to me. In the same breath she’d be like, “By the way, would you mind reading my biology paper for school?” I’d be like, “Oh my God, this girl is a genius. She’s just so incredible. For some reason, even though she wasn’t doing it on purpose, it made me think of personas and social media. She and I were big, big fans of The Office, both British and American. Also, The Comeback with Lisa Kudrow and all this stuff. The role that social media is playing in the world today. Some people on Instagram think just because they’re beautiful, they should be famous.
We were like, “Well, what if we had this… whether it’s David Brent or Michael Scott-ish delusional person who thinks that she’s a famous actress because she’s really pretty.” Erica Rhodes, in our minds, does have talent and she comes from a place of privilege, so we look at privilege and all these fun things. Erica [Deutschman] was so good at tapping into that stuff at the bar so I was like, “This is a show!” We spitballed it together, I wrote a draft and sent it to Erica. At first, it was really just us fooling around and having fun so we were like, “Let’s just shoot it and see what happens”, so we got approval from ACTRA and shot it.
We kind of sat around for a little while but then we kept getting more fun ideas. Then, Peter [Roumeliotis] at Popternative said he was looking for content. He wanted to branch out into fiction content so we sent him this thing. Now, we’re back at the place of planning more stuff. I think it’s a really topical thing and only getting more topical [with] how much bigger these social media platforms get.
Obviously, Erica Deutschman plays the lead role of Erica Rhodes, in addition to writing for her. Compared to most writing partnerships, does this distinction affect how either of you see the character?
JC: Definitely. Everything that I would write would go through the Erica filter, meaning I would sent it to Erica. She was so good at taking her eye and turning the phrase slightly. Putting emphasis on certain things, which was good. It also means that she really didn’t need much direction. We didn’t really have a director; it was me, her and our great friend Dan LeMoyne, who basically did everything technical. He’s an Angel sent from Heaven. Holly Deveaux, who’s also in the episode and plays Erica’s best friend, she directed it and was wonderful. Her and Erica are really, really tight too.
Erica was reallty just on point; no one gets this character more than she does. Holly and her made a great team, but it was an interesting dynamic for sure.
Considering your day job as an actor is on the fantasy-based Locke & Key, how did you find the change of pace with Cross Rhodes?
JC: The tone was one thing. You know, on Locke & Key especially, my stuff is more on the humorous side. So, there is a bit of that still in there, you know, pending Season 2. The thing I noticed more was obviously the scale. With Erica Rhodes, [the actor] Erica, Holly, Dan and myself worked very hard obviously on our days off. Dan is super busy, Holly and Erica are successful actresses. I was really the one at the time that wasn’t doing much so just kind of getting together, having no crew, no money. Shooting this thing purely out of love for it, laughing together and having fun. It was hard work, but really rewarding.
Whereas obviously Locke & Key, I go and there’s huge sets, all this money, get to have fun and only really have to worry about what my job is. I always say on Locke & Key, my job is to not slow down the rest of the cast and the crew. It was a really different kind of responsibility, but both equally rewarding.
Professionally or personally, what do you hope to accomplish with the rest of 2021?
JC: Whether I’m on it or not, Locke & Key is ending shooting and it’s on to the next thing. I’m fortunate enough to be working on a cartoon, that’s great. I’d really love to get more Erica Rhodes off, shoot more episodes. Besides that, hopefully get a little more work and then personally as always working on anxiety, trying to get healthier. It’s always about finding the next gig. Who knows how many seasons Locke & Key is going to do, whether I’m still there or not. Finding the next thing and keeping my head above ground, you know? I always love creating things and that’s why Cross Rhodes has been so much fun for me.
Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us, Jesse. Take care and stay safe!
JC: Thank you so much, right back at you and maybe closer to October, we could do it again.