Why 'Good Behavior's Juan Diego Botto Built His Character Around This Week's Pivotal Episode
There's nothing sexier than a man of mystery. But for Letty (Michelle Dockery) on Good Behavior , when that man of mystery is also a hit man and you're struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism and trying to stay out of jail long enough to get custody of her son, that mystery definitely complicates things. TNT's gripping new drama based on the Letty Dobesh books by Wayward Pines author Blake Crouch received a lot of buzz leading into its first season when Downton Abbey's Dockery shed her buttoned-up Lady Mary image to play flawed antihero con artist Letty. But it's really Juan Diego Botto who steals the show as Javier, the hit man with a soft spot for gummy bears.
Letty met Javier in a chance encounter in the series premiere — when she was stealing from his hotel room and overheard him planning to kill someone's wife for money — and ever since then, the two have embarked on quite the dangerous, seductive, cat-and-mouse journey. She was forced to help him carry out one of his hits while also undergoing his strict rehab rules to get clean. He's met her family and bonded with her son Jacob (Nyles Steele). They've committed both felony and misdemeanor crimes together and have had a tumultuous, dark, almost addictive love affair throughout it all.
But despite all their time together, Letty still knows next to nothing about the man she's with besides the fact that he kills people for money. That will all change in this week's episode, "The Ballad of Little Santino," airing Tuesday at 9 p.m. on TNT, when Letty attends a party that Javier's sister Ava (Maria Botto) is throwing for their extended family flying in from Argentina. The party is finally reuniting Javier with the family he's been estranged from his entire life for an unknown reason.
"I was waiting for this episode," Botto tells Bustle on a call from Europe, carefully picking his words so he doesn't spoil any major details. "I knew it was going to come when I first read about the character. This is my first time doing TV, and when you do film or theater you have a script with the beginning, the middle and the end of the story. You know where your character starts and where your character is going to end. You don't have that on TV."
According to Botto, this is the episode that explains who Javier is as a person and what happened to him when he was younger to cause such a divide in his family. All lingering questions about who this man of mystery is will be answered, and it makes for one emotional, heart wrenching hour of TV.
"I asked Chad [Hodge], the showrunner, like a hundred million questions [before production began] and he was so kind to answer them and he was bright enough to have answers for every single question," Botto says. "What happens in this episode was one of the things that he explained to me at the very, very beginning when we were doing the pilot. I was waiting for this to come."
There is a shocking twist in the episode that will finally explain everything there is to know about Javier and why he ended up becoming a hit man.
"I knew that was one of the key things about this character," Botto says. "It was very important to me. I built the whole character around this episode. There's something mysterious, a pain that we see in Javier all the time that is because of that. At least, that's what I tried to do. I was excited to finally show that other side of Javier."
While Botto had been waiting to film this episode from the very beginning, that didn't make the actual shooting any easier: "It was a very intense episode," Botto says. "Almost all the episode is in one place so we were able to do every bit of it from many different angles with many different shots which means we did the same scenes
over and over and over again. There were scenes where we were all crying so we spent like three days crying. It was exhausting. But it was very rewarding. I think all of us had a lot of fun doing it and it paid off. When you have such a good script, it's always very challenging. You do your best trying to match what's on the paper."
The episode is the first one to focus almost entirely on Javier, so all the heavy lifting during filming rested on Botto's shoulders. He credits Dockery as being a very supportive acting partner, but there were other aspects that helped him elevate his acting in the episode.
"There were some things that made it easier like, for instance, the actress who plays Ava is my real sister," Botto says. "It was so moving when I looked to my left and I saw my real sister crying. That made the whole thing authentic and therefore easier."
After this week, there are only three episodes left in the first season of TNT's hit new drama. And while Botto was not able to say much about where Letty and Javier are heading in the last few episodes of the season, he did promise that "it's going to be exciting, unexpected and it's going to stay real, as the show is."
"I'm excited for everyone to enjoy the rest of the season," Botto says. "When you do something like this, a piece like this, it might sound like a lie but it's actually true, it's something you're proud of. A piece of art that you like and you're proud of, you need the audience to see it. It's like it's not completed until people have seen it. There is no point in doing art unless someone is going to see it. What I'm most excited about is for the audience to watch it and finally feel that this is completed."
But first, viewers will have to get through this emotional episode. Have a box of tissues handy because the last shot in particular will leave you, along with Letty and Javier, in tears.