Ricky Martin Talks Powerful ‘Palm Royale’ Finale & His Love For Storytelling

“You got a presence, bud.”

That line from episode four in Palm Royale couldn’t be more fitting when describing Ricky Martin‘s character in the Apple TV+ series. While those words are actually told to the Puerto Rican star’s character, Robert Diaz, they also perfectly describe just how much Martin stands out in a cast that includes Hollywood stars Carol Burnett, Laura Dern and Kristen Wiig.

“I feel very lucky to be part of such a wonderful project,” the Grammy-winning artist tells Billboard via Zoom. Adding that what was key to nailing such a multi-layered character like Robert was silence. “What I mean by silence is the time I spent with my script and the secrets that have make him very powerful. Also, obviously, the challenges that he has as a man who needs to hide his reality back in the 60s. It’s something that gave me a lot of strength and I used every emotion, from fear, uncertainty, the fear of being rejected, I used all those dark emotions and I think that helped me create a strong, powerful character.”


Set in the 1960s in Palm Beach, Fla., Martin gives life to Robert, a bartender at the high society club Palm Royale, and Norma’s (Burnett) loyal companion/caretaker. He’s best described as stoic and a fierce protector of his friends (although they may not be the best of people) — and while he may come off as cold and indifferent towards others at the beginning, he’ll win your heart over episode after episode, as he allows vulnerability and transparency to take centerstage. Robert is also a gay man who struggles with his sexual identity and, in a powerful scene with Wiig and Dern, he says, “I just want to be a person.”

“An acting coach told me once, ‘Actors can’t lie, you just gotta wear the shoes of the character that you’re portraying and act exactly like you would behave in any situation.’ To just be honest, transparent and hope for the best, and that’s what I’ve done with this character,” adds Martin, who will be the first openly gay Latin artist to headline LA Pride in the Park, which will return to the Los Angeles State Historic Park on June 8.

If you’ve followed the Latin superstar’s career since the beginning — which launched in the early 1980s as a member of the wildly popular boyband Menudo — you’ll know that Palm Royale is not Martin’s actoral debut. In fact, he’s been acting since he was 15 with roles in Spanish-language soap operas, on General Hospital and, in 2017, he landed a key role in Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace – American Crime Story. But doing Palm Royale hit different and ignited a fire to keep acting.

“First time I was in front of a camera, I was 15 years old — it was a very beautiful l time,” he recalls. “Obviously later on music did its thing, and I cannot deny the power of music in my life, and it’s something I’ll always be forever grateful for. But at the end of the day I’m a storyteller… I will tell you a story through music or a script — I’ll make it mine. I’ll share with you what I’m feeling. This fluidity of storytelling is fascinating and I’m addicted to it so hopefully I’ll be doing more of this because I just love what I feel.”

Spoiler alert below

Apple has yet renew the series for a second season, but the series’ ending definitely leaves plenty of room for imagination. In the season finale, Robert is shot in a crossfire. In the last minutes of episode 10, he’s lying on the ground fighting for his life.

“My cell phone is on fire,” Martin says with a smirk. “Everybody is crying, they’re asking what’s going to happen next, will there be a second season, but that’s the beauty of this show. At the end of every episode there’s a massive cliffhanger, and I think the tentacles that are left in this story, it can go in so many directions.”

All episodes of Palm Royale are streaming now on Apple TV+.

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