Scene Stealer: ‘Telenovela’s Jencarlos Canela as a Hilarious TV Heartthrob

Telenovela - Eva Longoria and Jencarlos Canela
Ben Cohen/NBC
Telenovela, eva longoria, Jencarlos Canela

He Plays Xavier “Xavi” Castillo, a narcissistic singer-actor with blinding white teeth who stars in a steamy TV serial opposite his ex-wife, Ana Sofia (Eva Longoria). “Xavi is a douche bag, but he just can’t help it,” Canela says. “When a photographer says, ‘I’m so excited to shoot you!’ Xavi says, ‘I’m excited for you!’ I mean, who does that?”

Where You’ve Seen Him Canela, a Miami-born Cuban, is one of the Latin world’s top recording artists and the only Telenovela cast member who has actually acted in telenovelas. Among his spicier credits: Pasión Prohibida (Forbidden Passion) and Mas Sabe el Diablo (The Devil Knows More).

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Why We Love Him He’s a brilliantly hilarious heartthrob, and those are damn hard to find. “Casting Xavi was an impossibly tall order and Jen was everything we wanted him to be—Latin, gorgeous with blue eyes, a phenomenal singer—but he’d never done comedy,” says Longoria, who also exec produces the series. “I sat down to watch his audition going, ‘Please don’t suck. Please don’t suck.’ And he didn’t. He was the only guy to land every joke perfectly. No exaggeration: I had tears of joy.”

Soap Opera Amnesia Canela was getting ready to launch a world concert tour when Telenovela came calling. “They said, ‘How’d you like to be Eva Longoria’s love interest and suddenly I’m like, ‘What tour? What music career?’” he says with a laugh. “I happily gave up everything for the opportunity.” Canela has since signed with Republic Records for an English-language album helmed by the white-hot Monsters and Strangerz, who write and produce for Chris Brown, Jason Derulo and Maroon 5. Wait, it gets better. Canela will also play Jesus Christ in The Passion, Fox’s star-studded musical airing live from New Orleans on Palm Sunday (March 20). “My life is so incredible right now,” Canela says. “I am desperately trying to hold on to this moment.”

Telenovela, Monday, Feb. 1  8:30/7:30c, NBC