Age & Hometown: 35; Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Lima, Peru
Current Role: A Broadway debut as Billy Flynn, the silver-tongued prince of the courtroom, in Chicago.
All I Care About: Some little boys struggle to find their purpose, but Zunino had no doubt that his life would be played out onstage. “When I started at 14, I didn’t think about it,” he says of a career that included Latin American soap operas and Peruvian miniseries. “I just wanted to act like crazy.” But after years of success, Zunino reached a crossroads. “It got to the point that I didn’t know why I was acting anymore,” he confesses. “That’s why I came here.” At 21, he moved to New York City to study at Circle in the Square Theatre School, and found himself back at square one. “I had to be a waiter, clean the school, work on my English and do Shakespeare,” he says, adding with a laugh, “Shakespeare for Americans is difficult; just imagine doing it as a foreigner. But I loved it! I realized I loved acting and being able to express yourself onstage.”
Gone With the Wind: After returning home to star in Spanish language productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, West Side Story, Rent and Cabaret, Zunino got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to try-out for Chicago—but his dreams were almost blown away due to some stormy weather. “My audition for Chicago was the weekend of Hurricane Irene,” he recalls. “I took the last plane, got to Newark and they closed the airport. Nobody was on the streets and I didn’t even know if it was going to happen, but I went for the audition and I got it the same day.” Finally, the actor feels he is where he was meant to be. “When you get something this big, you try not to think,” he says. “Yesterday I was singing 'All I Care About (Is Love),' looking at the audience for a second, and I was like, ‘Dude, you are on Broadway.’”
Found in Translation: Playing Billy opposite Mexican-star Bianca Marroquin as Roxie Hart gives Zunino a unique opportunity to add Latin flair to Chicago. “Doing the show with Bianca and doing improvisation in Spanish makes it more rich and enhances the show,” he says. “Bianca and I had good chemistry from the moment we met. I love her to death.” And while co-stars swoon at his Latin-lover persona, Zunino shrugs off the notion that he is a sex symbol. “I am like everybody else,” he says with a laugh. “You wake up some days, look like crap and think, ‘Oh my God if they saw me right now my career would be ruined.’ We are not all Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. I would love to be like them, but we need to be happy with ourselves. Even now when I take pictures I’m like, ‘Don’t take my bad side.’ The left side is awful. Oh, I hate it. Why? It’s a secret I can’t tell.”