Photo Credit: Leslie Alejandro

Tyler Alvarez has practically grown up on screen—on Netflix, in particular.

As a teen, he had a recurring role on early Netflix staple Orange Is The New Black, playing the son of matriarchal inmate Gloria, followed up by his big breakout a few years later headlining American Vandal, the streamer’s pitch-perfect true-crime parody.

Now, he’s back again (after also appearing in Season 2 of Never Have I Ever) in Blockbuster, the brand-new ensemble workplace comedy set, ironically, in the country’s very last Blockbuster video rental store. As Alvarez sees it, it’s “the return of the classic sitcom we are all looking for,” bolstered by an exciting cast that also includes Melissa Fumero, Randall Park, J.B. Smoove, and Olga Merediz.

The series represents one of Alvarez’s first main roles since coming out during Pride Month last year, and we’re delighted to watch him come into his own as a confidently queer leading man. His character, Carlos, is an aspiring filmmaker, and Alvarez brings his own life experiences—not to mention a sharp sense of humor—to the story of this bisexual Cuban-American.

“My favorite thing about Carlos is that his queerness is not his identity, it is just one part of his life,” Alvarez shares. “As a queer person, as a queer artist, we are entirely multifaceted and it is really nice to see that multifaceted personality represented on TV.”

Ahead of Blockbuster’s November 3 premiere on Netflix, Queerty jumped at the opportunity to make Alvarez the latest guest in our rapid-fire Q&A series, Dishin’ It. While in the hot seat, the star reveals his dream filmmaker collab, reflects on an embarrassing Valentine’s Day memory, and shares which keepsakes he’s held on to from each set he’s worked on.

Photo Credit: ‘Blockbuster,’ Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix

Is there a piece of pop-culture—whether a movie, TV series, book, album, etc…—that you consider a big part of your coming-out journey? Why does it stand out to you?

Lady Gaga was a big part of my coming-out journey. I remember watching her perform “Paparazzi” at the VMAs and seeing her be so out there and so uniquely herself, it really inspired me in so many ways.

Fun story, I was at the Critics Choice Awards when American Vandal was nominated for Best Limited Series and Lady Gaga was nominated for A Star is Born. I couldn’t believe I was in the same room with this incredibly significant person in my life and she didn’t even know it.

Every commercial break, I would try to work up the courage to talk to her and tell her how much she meant to me, but as soon as I was within five feet from her, I would get too nervous and turn around.

 

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Your Blockbuster character, Carlos, is an aspiring filmmaker who’s working at the video store in the meantime. In an alternate universe, if you weren’t acting right now, what job do you think you’d be doing instead and why?

I would absolutely be an astronaut! I’ve always had an obsession with space and I just find it so interesting and magical. I’m still hoping I’ll have the opportunity to go there one day… but I’d settle for even a zero gravity plane.

What’s your favorite Halloween costume you’ve ever worn and why?

I was a vampire last year and it is easily my favorite costume to date. When I appeared on What We Do in the Shadows, my character wore prosthetic fangs that were custom made to my teeth, so I added those to my costume and it made it look very legit.

 

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Where’s one of the first places/spaces you can remember that made you feel a part of a queer community?

The first place that comes to mind is my friend Denisea’s condo in Los Angeles. I had just moved here and came out to everyone in my life and she helped me a lot throughout my journey. I remember she would stay on the phone with me for hours talking about it, helping me move through it all and learn how to love myself. I owe a lot of my freedom to her, her support and her love. We all need a best friend like that.

 

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Inspired by Blockbuster—r.i.p.—what’s a nostalgic fave of yours you think we should bring back?

Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Melissa Joan Hart, get to work!

Earlier this year, you were in the charming Hulu rom-com Crush, which is all about the lengths we’ll go to win a crush’s affection. What’s an example of something embarrassing you’ve done to get a crush to notice you? 

I am not sure if this is embarrassing, per se, but it is burned into my brain. When I was in elementary school, my class had a Valentine’s Day party and I wrote a note to someone I secretly admired and left it on their desk. To this day I am not sure if they know it was from me!

Who is a queer or trans artist/performer/creator that you think is doing really cool work right now? Why are they someone we should all be paying attention to?

I have been a fan of Luca Guadagnino’s films for years. He is not conformed to any genre and I am consistently blown away by his vision behind the lens. Because of this, he appeals to so many diverse audiences; no film of his is the same and there is a film for everybody. I am looking forward to seeing Bones And All, Challengers and all of his future projects. It is my dream to one day collaborate with him.

 

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Have you held onto any keepsakes from either of the two seasons of American Vandal—why is it sentimental to you? If not, is there something you wish you would’ve held onto?

It is a tradition of mine keep something from the wardrobe of the character’s that I play–I am very sentimental that way. From American Vandal, I kept Peter’s glasses, I kept Carlos’ nametag from the first season of Blockbuster and I kept Dillon’s Birkenstocks from Crush.

 

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