TORONTO - Carlos Pena, Jr., who plays Carlos Garcia on the two-year-old Nickelodeon hit TV series, Big Time Rush, can’t quite believe he’ll be on stage at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Sunday night just as the Academy Awards are being handed out in Hollywood.
“No way!” said Pena, 22, down the line from a Big Time Rush tour stop in Chicago. “We’d always watch the Oscars. For me a dream of mine is to be one of the few Latin male actors to win best actor at the Oscars, ’cause there’s only been like three, which is pretty crazy, in 80-something years.”
Needless to say he’s rooting for Mexico’s Demián Bichir (A Better Life) to win over favorites George Clooney (The Descendants) and Jean Dujardin (The Artist) in the 2012 best actor race.
“Give somebody fresh a chance,” said Pena, who said he’ll record the Oscars and watch them later.
Otherwise, the Missouri-born, Florida-raised Pena said he’s been enjoying BTR’s first headlining North American tour on the so-called Better with U trek in front of audiences ranging from 5,000 to 10,000, with T.O. as the only Canadian stop.
“It’s amazing to go to a huge venue and a have a new group of fans who are there supporting us and doing everything,” he said. “It’s still surreal to me that people dig our music and show and come out.”
BTR the series, about four best friends and hockey players from Minnesota chosen to form a boy band in Hollywood, was created by Scott Fellows, who modelled it on the ’60s musical comedy show, The Monkees.
But Pena points out that, unlike The Monkees, they help write their own music, composing eight of the 12 songs on their sophomore 2011 album, Elevate.
“We knew if this was going to work, we’d have to tell the world that, ‘Yeah, we understand that we’re four actors who got put into this band but we all love singing, we all love dancing, and performing,’ ” said Pena, who auditioned for the TV show back when he was 17 and went on to attend Boston Conservatory to study musical theatre and has future Broadway aspirations.
Otherwise, BTR will have uber-hot British boy band One Direction of England’s X-Factor fame, whose hit song, What Makes You Beautiful, just won best British single over Adele’s Someone Like You, at The Brit Awards this week, as their opening act for stops in Chicago and Detroit first before arriving at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday.
“No way! They beat out Adele for best British single? Well, there you go,” said Pena.
The combination could turn into a boy band perfect storm for screaming females of a certain age.
“I’m hoping that it kind of merges and just makes one big fan base,” said Pena, whose German Shepherd Sidney is his companion on the road. “I’m very curious to see them live and see how the fans react and who knows, maybe even a collaboration in the future is possible.”
Especially when both BTR and One Direction appear live on the MuchMusic program, New. Music. Live. on Monday at
5 p.m. ET. with Queen Street being blocked off due to thousands of fans expected.
“I don’t think anyone knew how crazy this could have gotten,” said Pena, who is dating Samantha Droke of Princess Protection Program fame and a friend of Selena Gomez and Ashley Tisdale.
Next up for BTR, rounded out by Kendall Schmidt as Kendall Knight, James Maslow as James Diamond, and Logan Henderson as Logan Mitchell, is season three of the TV show due to air stateside in April and a leap to the big screen with the Vancouver-shot Big Time Movie opening March 10.
“I’m super excited for that,” said Pena. “It’s like an Austin Powers meets James Bond with Beatles music in it. We’re basically us four dudes going on our world tour and we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.”