Celestino Cornielle appears as Raldo in ‘The Fate of the Furious’ and told Hidden Remote how he was seemingly fated to appear in the blockbuster franchise.
Fans who’ve seen The Fate of the Furious have likely spotted Celestino Cornielle as Raldo, one of the new characters to join the Fast & Furious franchise in the eighth film. It’s a major gig for any actor, but for the Dominican-born Celestino, it was more than that.
He spoke to Hidden Remote about how his association with the franchise goes back to a failed audition for 2 Fast 2 Furious, taking over a character originally intended for rapper Pitbull, and that time he turned up on Agent X.
Get to know Celestino Cornielle below and then watch him as Raldo in The Fate of the Furious, in theaters now.
Hidden Remote: You originally auditioned for 2 Fast 2 Furious near the start of your acting career. Did you ever think this franchise would come around again?
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Celestino Cornielle: It’s incredibly trippy. Not only did it come around, but it came around in a major way. This is now the biggest installment of the franchise. we’ve made history in more ways than one. Being the first movie to shoot in Cuba in over 50 years, [having the] most watched trailer in history, and now to that we add to that the biggest opening weekend in history.
I’m still trying to catch up with that, what it means for myself as a person, for my career. It’s surreal.
I’m reading messages from the fans saying I love your character, we hope you come back. This part was originally written for pit bull and it’s quite warming to my heart to have so many of them write me and say I can’t see anyone but you playing this part. These are coming from a lot of people who are fans of Pitbull.
But it’s surreal. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of it and in the meantime I’m just going on with my life.
Hidden Remote: How would you describe Raldo as a character? How did you develop him for yourself once you landed the role?
Cornielle: This is a testament to [Fate of the Furious director] F. Gary Gray. People don’t realize that, every little thing that goes into a movie, particularly when it’s directed by a director such as F. Gary Gray, it’s like you’re doing a painting and you might see that black little dot go here and the pink one over there and you have no idea where this is going. But at the end when you step back and you look at this masterpiece, you’re in complete awe. That’s what this is.
Gary saw something in me that prompted him to fight for me for two months against the producers, studios and everybody. He said that’s the guy for this role. The arc that my character [goes through] is my life journey. I come from a very humble background. I was a knucklehead—not that I’m proud to say it—but magic transpired in my life and I changed, and that’s exactly what happened to my character. The character is based on me. That’s my hat, my shoes, my holster, the jewelry—it’s me you’re seeing. It makes that much more amazing that the character has been well received, and I’ll tell you why.
When I first moved out here to California, I made friends and they used to do this character and everyone used to laugh at this character, including myself. Years down the line we’re hanging out and laughing at this character, and I’m like that character is so familiar, what movie is he from? My friend turns and says to me, that’s you. I was crushed. It’s something that took me years to come to grips with. Instead of hiding who I was, I needed to let who I was shine through and that’s what you see in Raldo. That’s me in raw form.
I was made fun of. The way I spoke, the way I moved, the way I looked—all that stuff, it got me on the big screen in the biggest movie of all time, quite possibly.
Hidden Remote: You were also in an episode of Agent X playing the character of Glenn, which was also a bit personal for you, too. What was that role like?
Cornielle: That was so cool. The coolest part for me about that didn’t make it in the final cut. In the final scene, I don’t die, I get wounded so I’m going through that process where I’m bleeding out. The director [Peter O’Fallon] had the lead actor [Jeff Hephner] ask me my name and where I was from. It was magic because they allowed me to be Dominican and I told them the city I was born in, everything.
That was touching because when I first came to California, it seemed like the [acting] world didn’t know what Dominican was. The first booking I ever did, my agent called and was like they want to know what you are and I was like what do you mean? I was like, I’m from the Dominican Republic and he’s like, what? Early on to me it was important to educate people of what Dominican was. I made efforts all along the way, and I do this and will continue to do this, to change my characters and allow them to be Dominican.
You can catch Celestino Cornielle as Raldo in The Fate of the Furious in theaters now. You can also follow him on Twitter at @heycelestino.
The Fate of the Furious is in theaters now.