Armed and Hilarious
Johnathan Fernandez, actor and comedian, makes a splash with his role in the new FOX hit, “Lethal Weapon”
by Leigh Stuart

Though he recently relocated from the East Coast to Santa Monica, Calif., actor and comedian Johnathan Fernandez has a lot of love for the Greater Philadelphia Area. He spent many years as a Pennsylvania resident, and he will always have roots here; he married the Bucks County girl he met while serving on the cheerleading squad at his alma mater, Penn State.

Fernandez, who dabbled in art and illustration (he majored in integrative arts), eventually settled on a career in comedic acting. He even earned coveted roles within the renowned Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, which now has locations in New York and Los Angeles.

He’s appeared in numerous commercials and web series. His most notable role, though, is also his most recent: playing Scorcese, a dapper and highly sarcastic medical examiner with the Los Angeles Police Department, in FOX’s new series “Lethal Weapon.”

We spoke with Fernandez about the show, his fond memories of life in pastoral Pennsylvania and what the future holds.

You moved to the Poconos when you were 7. Do you still have ties to the area?
My father’s Honduran and my mother’s Colombian, and they moved here to the country. … They all moved to New York—Brooklyn and Queens—and I was born in Brooklyn. When I was 7, we moved to East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. I went to college at Penn State, and that’s where I met my wife; she’s the one that’s from Langhorne.  And so all these years—it’s been 13 years—I’ve become an adopted child of Bucks County. 

Is there a culture shock, going from East Coast to West Coast?
It’s funny because after spending more time out here I realized how challenging the life in New York was. Like, here, there’s like no sense of urgency whatsoever. People are just chillin’ and hangin’ out … whereas in New York, and even in the greater tri-state area, people have stuff to do. They get up, they have to go to work, they have to do all that stuff. I think the “X factor” is the sun.

Tell me a bit about how you got the “Lethal Weapon” role, and about your character.
You know, what’s funny about that is that I’ve been in a lot of red-carpet interviews in the last few weeks and everyone’s been asking, “What was it about ‘Lethal Weapon’ that made you say yes?’ … I’m, like, “You guys are giving me a lot of credit. You’re acting as if I’m in a position to say ‘no’ to this.” … The rest of the cast is famous and I’m not, so when I went to the first table read I was very, very cognizant of being the only person in the room that was not famous. Like every other person, I’m, like, Damon Wayans, “Obviously you’re one of the funniest people of all time; you’re a total icon,” and Clayne Crawford, “I know your work very well from that show ‘Rectify’ that used to be on Sundance ... Jordana Brewster, obviously, “The Fast and the Furious,” and Kevin Rahm I really liked in “Mad Men.” It was just pussyfooting around as I was walking around the table, like, “Wow, everybody’s really legit and it’s crazy that I’m even here.”

Your character is very well dressed, and I understand you’re quite well dressed off set as well. Where does your interest in fashion come from?

I wear a suit almost every time I go out, whether it’s a vest and slacks or it’s a full three piece or just like a nice blazer with pants, and so I’m always standing out like that. … I’m always overdressed. I think it really started when I was able to earn money. Clothing was never the priority, but as soon as I was able to shed my day job and earn some real cash, I was able to save for myself and I was, like, “I can finally look the way I want.”

What do you do for fun off camera?
I’m hoping to be able to catch up on all the video games I haven’t been able to play for the last three years, and I want to start surfing because why the hell would I not? … I have a Harley-Davidson, so we’re planning on taking some nice trips up and down the Pacific Coast Highway on the bike. We’re just doing, honestly, whatever; just hanging out, and we haven’t really been able to do that in New York for the last however many years.

What is your ultimate goal for your career?

What’s funny and also tragic about acting is that it’s really difficult to be in the moment, and that’s the whole thing; you’ve got to be in the moment. You are always thinking about the next thing at all times. … I wanted to be in films, like, a lead or a co-lead in a film, and I wanted to be a series regular on television. When you achieve something like that, of being a series regular on a major network show with a lot of publicity, you’re like, “This is it!” But it’s funny, because as soon as I got booked for this, and I found out I was a series regular, right away I was, like, “Holy crap, this is me now.” The next thing is going to be even crazier.

Photograph by Brian Bowen Smith/FOX