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Catching Up With E.J. Bonilla

Credit: National Geographic

Where To Catch Him: Starring in THE LONG ROAD HOME on the National Geographic Channel, kicking off with a two-hour premiere on Tuesday, November 7.

Your series is based on a true story.

Tell us who you play. “Lt. Shane Aguero. He’s the leader of the platoon that gets held down under the ambush. It’s an interesting thing to play a leader of other men, especially in the military, where it’s not so much whether you’re the alpha or even if you can lead. Aguero is probably scared, too, but he can’t show it because his responsibility is the safety of these men.”

He’s also a family man.

“And that’s fascinating because when you think of a soldier, you think of a beefed-up, strong, stereotypical male, and that’s not the case most of the time. It’s the ‘every guy’. It’s the guy who might have been geeky in high school but happens to be a good leader on the battlefield. Aguero was described to me as ‘everyone’s favorite younger brother’ because he’s a sweet guy but he’s also the guy you want next to you in the foxhole. It’s a fascinating dichotomy.”

That final year and a half at GL shooting outdoors in Peapack, NJ, was probably good training for all the exterior work you shot here.

“That’s a great analogy! That was one of the best experiences I could have had, when we made the switch in filmmaking for the show. We went from being a three-camera show to being a single-cam show. It was indie filmmaking at its best. We were even allowed to improvise here and there and as an artist, to be able to feel out those soap scripts and really play is something that normally doesn’t happen in the soap world. GL was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me and I’m so grateful for it.”

Do you still talk to anyone from your Springfield days?

“I’m in touch with Lawrence [Saint-Victor, ex-Remy; Carter, B&B] all the time. He’s a brilliant dude. He’s always producing his own projects. He’s an inspiration to me.”

Are you still recognized by the soap fans?

“Now and again I get someone who looks at me and says, ‘Rafe!’ Actually, on this project, we had some of the Army wives come over and we got to meet them and talk with them, and some of them watched the show and recognized me, so that was fun.”