Manu Rios on 'Elite' Fame, Playing a Doctor in New Series 'Breathless'

Manu Rios made his way to Mexico last month to attend the Platino Awards, held for the third time in 11 years at the Gran Tlachco Theater at Xcaret Park in Riviera Maya. Rios, a breakout star from the steamy Netflix series Elite, was among a long list of boldfaced names to make the trek to the starry show which honors the best in Ibero-American content across film and television.

\Ahead of the ceremony, at which J.A. Bayona’s Society of the Snow swept by winning six trophies including best film, The Hollywood Reporter sat down with Rios to talk about life after Elite, meeting real-life doctors for his forthcoming medical drama Breathless and why he’s considering a move to Los Angeles — at least a temporary one.

You’re no stranger to award shows. You were nominated for a few breakthrough awards after the success of Netflix’s Elite. How did Elite change your life?

It changed my life in so many ways. I grew up so much as a person. I was 21 when I started, 20 when we started rehearsals. I was really, really young and I met the coolest people. I learned so much as an actor. Then my life went a little bit crazy. It opened so many doors for me. … I got to travel to so many places [with] amazing opportunities. It was a really cool phase of my life.

What’s the best part about where you are right now, and the most challenging part?

The best part is that it opened so many opportunities and I’ve gotten to meet the coolest people. I’ve made so many friendships. The best part is doing my job and [continuing to work]. The most challenging part is just being exposed. It was a little bit weird at the beginning. I didn’t understand everything that was going on, but I’m grateful that I have a really nice family. I have a really nice group of friends, and I just keep them so close to me. That helped me a lot to keep my mindset and focus on what’s really important, which is my career as actor, and helps me to not get super distracted by the noise.

When you go to Los Angeles, what is your impression of the city and how has it been to navigate?

It’s definitely different than Spain, so it was a little challenging at the beginning for me to adapt and understand the way people interact with each other. But it’s interesting and I’m really fascinated by it. … I have met so many cool people. Every time that I go to L.A., I feel more and more comfortable to the point that I’m now thinking of moving there for a few months. That would be nice. That’s in the future. It’s in the works.

Your next project is the TV series Breathless. Seeing you in scrubs will be a new experience for your fans. Can you talk about your character and your experience on the show?

I cannot say much because they’re going to kill me if I do, but it was such a different experience for me as an actor. Just getting into the mindset of a resident and being in a hospital is really, really tough. I think it’s going to be a really cool show. We talk about really important topics. I think people are going to think about the importance of doctors and [how hard they work every day]. We’re going to give visibility to important stuff, and the cast is amazing. So many amazing actors and actresses that I have admired since I was a kid.

Did you spend any time with doctors?

Yeah. [Our characters] have to do surgeries and all of that. It’s so complicated and we wanted to make sure we were doing it as realistically as much as we could. Obviously there was experts that were helping us and stuff, but I learned a lot. It’s so tough, so mentally draining.

I went to Las Vegas recently for the Netflix Slam with Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz. I saw you were there, too. Being from Spain, how hard was that for you in choosing how to root for since they are both Spanish superstars?

I didn’t care who won, honestly. It seemed like it would be Nadal, who is a legend playing another legend from the new generation. I was happy that [Carlos] won, but I would’ve been happy with anything. It was really, really close. It was my first time watching a tennis match in my life. It’s incredible. They don’t feel real. It feels like they are a different type of species. It’s crazy.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

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