Funeral arrangements have not yet been made for our dearest Julio, but Power fans are standing by earnestly awaiting the time and place they can pay their final respects to a d-boy who simply wanted to make money. Sunday night (July 30) fans of the Starz scripted drama unexpectedly bid farewell to a Toros Locos turned east coast distributor when a hit was ordered on his life.
The beautifully tragic moment has been in the making all season long as Dre (played by Rotimi) showed his jealousy when he questioned Tommy about why Julio was chosen as distro over him. Dre then tried to sabotage Julio at every turn, whether it be attempting to make Julio look like a snitch when he told Tommy he was in with the feds longer than anyone else, or just not showing up for the drop. Dre’s intentions were made clear and were obvious to everyone except Julio.
VIBE spoke with J.R. Ramirez about his colossal final scene as Julio, the hours it took to put it all together and the slightly weird parting gift received after four years with the show.
VIBE: If you were here right now, I just want to say I’d give you a big hug.
J.R. Ramirez: [Laughs]
How did [Power creator and showrunner ] Courtney A. Kemp break the news to you?
They told me a few months in advance that it was coming. We were shooting Season Four, it was kind of in the beginning when we found out. You know, it’s that kind of thing where, let’s be real, this is Power, it’s the kind of show where it can happen to anybody. We’re always numbered. We’re always counting our days. At every single table read after the scripts come out, I have this app on my phone. It puts in the whole script and I can actually put in my character name and scroll to the end. So for the end of Season One it was like ‘Alright, I don’t have a bullet to the back of the head, so I’m still here’ because you never know. But I was more than blessed enough to be able to get four years out of it.
When you found out Dre was going to be the one to set you up were you surprised?
As an actor? It made sense. It completely made sense. I think Julio, the character, is obviously loyal to a fault. That’s what got him killed: blind loyalty. He just really wanted to do well and move up and make money and take care of his family, which was something that we were going to show at some point but never came out. He was doing all of this for his grandmother. He finally got a raise and wanted to move up in the game, and with Dre being the snake that he is, beautifully played by Rotimi, who’s my brother from another, it just made sense. I couldn’t see it from anybody else but him. [Julio] didn’t really build a relationship with Kanan, which is another one I can see it coming from. This season there was this really beautiful power struggle created between Dre’s character and Julio’s character. It’s so funny because Julio is super smart so when I saw that he walked into the warehouse by himself I was like ‘Ahh, c’mon! Really?’
Yeah, I was like ‘Dude!?’
But that’s the show. We need that shock value, you know?
Tell me about filming that scene because Julio didn’t go out without a fight. I was so happy for him. I was at home rooting for him like ‘Yes! Get ’em, Julio!’
That’s one thing when I read it. I could’ve gotten a bullet to the back of the head. He was already soft enough this year. [laughs] I was so proud the way the writers, Gary Lennon, who’s a dear friend and one of the most talented people I had the pleasure of working with. I’m so happy he’s the one that killed me and the fact that Gary gave Julio that strength and he was able to go out with that strength . Scene wise, that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career. It was like a 17 hour day. I broke my hand.
Wait. You broke your hand?
Yeah, I’ve got the scars to show it. About five, six hours into it. There’s a lot of action and a lot of stuff going on. One of the pipes used to break one of the guy’s face in, props gave me this Styrofoam thing and it had a hole in it and on one of the takes where I get my Achilles sliced, you have to fall and commit and you know, I want to do all my stunts, and you’re starting to learn like ‘Bro, let that stunt guy do it’ I’m like ‘Man, I’ve been putting in work for four years, I want to do this sh*t myself. ‘ So the pipe got stuck in my pinky and I fell on top of it and my chest took the fall and I heard a snap.
Ah that sucks
Now, I’m like five hours in and everyone’s like freaked out and my hand just blew up. I put some ice on it and said ‘I’ll be fine’ and then we did another 12 hours. That was the longest, most difficult scene I’ve ever done in my career. I definitely pulled it out like a trooper. The next morning my girl was like ‘You should probably go get that checked.’ I got it checked at like 9:30 in the morning and by 5 I was having surgery. I tore like three ligaments in my pinky bone. My pinky bone was a little sideways, but it’s all good.
The part where I had to turn away was when homeboy cut the ‘718’ off your neck.
Yeah, it’s hard to watch.
How did they physically do that?
Well, we have Craig Lindberg, our makeup specialist who is one of the best in the game and you know it’s a prosthetic they put over my neck. It took about two hours to put on. I had to go a few weeks before and get the whole molding done to my exact neckline and they put this prosthetic over you. It’s a thin skin and then they cut it out and they put blood in it…
Yeah, that’s a lot.
It’s crazy. [Craig] actually gave me the piece that says ‘718’ as a gift.
Oh, that’s gross.
It was so touching. It was cool, a little weird, but you know. [Laughs]