Arts & Entertainment

Meet Adam Lindo, the Filipino-Egyptian Actor Behind Orange Is the New Black's Newest Villain

The actor talks to Esquire about his career (so far), playing a complex character, and what's next.
IMAGE Harol Baez
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"Every great story has a villain," Adam Lindo says when asked about the complex character he plays for the final season of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black. The Filipino-Egyptian actor has played a bunch of recurring roles in television shows like Blue Bloods, The Blacklist, and Blindspot, but his role as Carlos Litvack in OITNB is undoubtedly one of the most real, relevant, and—in his own words—"fun" in his career so far.

Litvack, one of the ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) detention guards at the PolyCon ICE Detainment Centre (formerly Litchfield Penitentiary), isn't by any means the biggest villain of the season but he's despicable all the same. There is, of course, his stance on illegal immigration and his general treatment of the detainees. That said, he does have some good moments and it doesn't help that Litvack is good looking—a fact that's even lead to him being given the moniker "Clitvack" on the show.

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Photo by Harol Baez.

Lindo, for his part, couldn't be further from the character he portrays, but to him, this was a story that needed to be told and he's grateful about the whole thing. Still, it was a different feeling. "It was like putting on a suit you've never worn before. At first, you feel different but then it becomes organic. It's a part of you until you take it off. I say characters that are an antagonist in any story are the most fun," he says.

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That's not to say, however, that Lindo had no connection to his role. In fact, before becoming an actor, he was a police officer. "Being a former police officer myself, part of me understands Litvack's position. It's not an easy job, as a human being you sympathize with people, but there is also a job that needs to be done. He didn't always handle things the right way, but that's what makes his character so real. In the current state of the country, ICE isn't the most popular agency right now," he says.

Photo Courtesy of Netflix.
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The transition from being a police officer to being an actor and fitness model wasn't as rough as it sounds. Lindo had been working on a commercial when he met producer Pamela Kramer. "She invited me to take her acting class," he says. Right on the first day, he fell in love with the craft and how natural it felt to him. But acting was always on the back of his mind. "I'm an '80s baby. I grew up on Disney movies and all the classics—you name it have watched it more than three times. But actors like Marlon Brando, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Denzel Washington have really inspired me."

Photo by Harol Baez.
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Initially, Lindo didn't know much about ICE and immigration when he auditioned for Orange Is the New Black. As he did his research, he knew the show was something he wanted to be a part of. "I went in for my audition with Jennifer Euston. Of course, I was nervous. I did the read, she gave me notes, and I left. That was on a Thursday. For days, I kept thinking of things I should have done better," he shares. "By Sunday, I figured they went with someone else, but that afternoon I got the phone call from my agent saying I had gotten the part." Now, he says the ICE storyline is what really made the season standout. While he says it won't solve the U.S.' immigration issues, he hopes it will strike a chord with the viewers and keep the conversation going.

The whole experience has been wonderful for the actor who confesses the OITNB set is one of the best he's ever set foot on. As for his favorite thing about the role, he says: "I would have to say, the grape mixed with peppermint chewing gum. Every time I chewed it, it reminded me of childhood. Also, how he took control of the room, that’s something I still carry with me, and his snappy comebacks."

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Though OITNB has ended, you can count on seeing Lindo more in the future. Currently, he has some projects in pre-production including a role in the upcoming live-action adaption of Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Photographs by Harol Baez. Styling by Arnold Milfort. Grooming by Renee Garnes.

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Paolo Chua
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