Pablo Schreiber is ready to hang up the mustache and play a good guy. After playing the horribly corrupt prison guard George “Pornstache” Mendez on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” and psychopathic rapist William Lewis on “Law and Order: SVU,” Schreiber is excited to play a more normal character on NBC’s new series, “Ironside.”
“It was nice to turn in the mustache for something a little nicer,” Schreiber told Zap2it. “It was liberating. After having played such nasty fellows, twice in a row, I’m really happy to get back to doing something that feels a little closer to home and expresses a side of myself that is there — my nice side, my side as a father, which I am and so is my character.”
Schreiber plays Virgil on “Ironside,” a crime drama about a wheelchair-bound, tough-as-nails New York City cop, which is a big departure from his recent bad-guy streak. Though Schreiber did enjoy playing darker roles. “It was a couple back to back really, really nasty guys which was a lot of fun,” Schreiber said. “That offers you a certain freedom to really do whatever you really want to, especially with Pornstache, who I had a lot of free reign to be as crazy as I wanted him to.”
Since “Orange Is the New Black” was on Netflix, that meant Schreiber could take Pornstache to some really dark places that he otherwise couldn’t have if it was on another network. “I mean, the show opens with the lesbian make out scene in the shower, so we absolutely got away with a lot,” Schreiber said. “But did we get away with more than they’re getting on HBO or Showtime? I don’t know. I think it’s probably on par with that.”
As the season went on, viewers got to see another side to Pornstache — more than just a sociopathic prison guard who extorts and assaults his female inmates. “We did get to see some of his vulnerability. He did still remain a villain by the end, but he was shaded in a different light,” Schreiber said. “I was really happy that the writers made that decision. As that season went on, there was such a buildup of awful behavior from Pornstache that he needed to be weighted by something else. There needed to be some humanity thrown in. So I was really delighted that they gave that touch to him.”
And when it came to being on such a female-centric show, Schreiber admits that he was certainly treated a bit differently being a male on set. “. It was very unique being on a really estrogen-dominated set,” Schreiber said. “There was all women, all day, and not only was I the guy, I was the really nasty guy. So I was kind of my own island on that show because everyone gave me a lot of distance going in. They didn’t want to get too close.”
You can watch Schreiber as he returns to “Law and Order: SVU” for the two-hour season premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. ET, as well as on his new series “Ironside,” which premieres Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.