‘On My Block’s final season is out now, and HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Julio Macias about saying goodbye to Oscar, that heartbreaking tie scene, and more. SPOILERS!
After 4 incredible seasons, On My Block has come to an end. The final season dropped on October 4, revealing what happened to the Core Four, Jasmine, Oscar, and more. Not everyone got a happy ending, though. The end of episode 5 featured one of the show’s most devastating deaths.
Oscar was shot and killed by unknown assailants just as Cesar said he would come to Portland to live with Oscar and Isabel. Oscar’s killer was never revealed, and Julio Macias wants to keep it that way. HollywoodLife spoke with Julio about the identity of the killer, the bond between him and Diego Tinoco, and how he could barely keep it together during the tie scene. Read our Q&A below:
You broke me with Oscar’s death. Tell me a little bit about when you found out and what was your reaction when you learned of his fate?
Julio Macias: I found out when I got the scripts for the fourth season. I thought they’re going to go two ways with him. They’re either going to go in the direction of all-in on this gang life, and they’re going to have him go out in a blaze of glory, if you will, really getting up there to drug lord status, or they’re going to completely take him in a different direction and show him in the light of post-Santos. I’ve trusted these writers since season one. They’ve given me the opportunity to play this character. Lauren [Iungerich], Jeremy [Haft], Eddie [Gonzalez], Jamie [Dooner], they’ve crafted this guy and Netflix, obviously, gave me the opportunity to dish out and showcase him. But now I was pleasantly surprised when they said we’re going to show what it’s like for someone like this to get out and enjoy it as much as he can for the time that he can. I mean, it’s been shown before. This is not the very first show that showed this, but for this generation, they haven’t seen something like this or as accessible as On My Block is, so I’m happy to contribute it to that ongoing conversation.
I think Oscar’s last act was making sure that Cesar was out, that he was getting out. I feel like that provided a sense of closure. When it was all happening, do you think Oscar was surprised that Cesar got involved with the Santos and got in as deep as he did?
Julio Macias: He’s a little bit better now, but he’s so full of pride that I think that it took him a while to understand that the reason that his brother ran to the Santos so quickly and so easily was because that’s what he was pushing his brother to do for years on end. And then suddenly, just because he had this revelation of like, the streets aren’t going to love me back because that’s what his father told him and it finally clicked in his head: you raised this stubborn little kid who is going to follow in his brother’s footsteps. When his brother tells them, hey, this is not what you should be doing. Take it from me. He gets right back to him as a teenager like, that’s what you told me about grandpa or his father as well. But he’s kind of like my son. That’s what you said about our father and now you’re going to back out? The minute you leave, the minute that you step out of the situation, not only am I in danger, but my friends are in danger. So maybe Cesar is doing in a similar way to [Oscar]. I always thought that Oscar was doing everything that he was doing, not for the money, not for the glory or the status symbol, if you will, or the fear that he had… Well, a little bit for the fear, but the fear that he was using to protect his brother because they said, we can’t mess with Cesar because then we get Oscar. So I think similarly now Cesar, whatever it is that he says he’s [like], I’m going to go into this life to continue this legacy of protecting my community the only way that I know how because the cops aren’t here for me, the City Hall isn’t here for me, my teachers aren’t here for me. The streets have been here for me, and if I run the streets then I can protect Monse and Jamal and Ruby and then my community.
With Oscar in the episodes that he’s in, he really does get out. He does start a new life for himself. He has the love of his life. He has a baby on the way. He’s still making sure trying to get Cesar out. That’s like I said his last act a little bit. Do you think there’s a part of him, even if it was in the darkest corner of his mind, that thought, I’m making sure everyone’s okay because I might not make it out.
Julio Macias: Yes. I think that he never had this illusion that he was going to get out scratch-free. He knew that at some point it was going to catch up with him. I think, again, it was a little bit more selfish than making sure that everything [and] everyone was okay. I think it was more I don’t know when it’s going to catch up with me, but in the time that I have from now until that moment, I’m going to enjoy the rest of my life. Because having a kid and starting a family knowing that this might be around the corner, it’s kind of selfish. It’s not looking forward. It’s not looking out for the best interest of either the love of his life or his kid. But in a weird way, I think he deserved this little chunk of happiness.
When Oscar is shot and he’s dying, Cesar is right there is with Oscar in his final moments. Cesar asks, “Who did this?” And Oscar doesn’t say anything. Do you think that was intentional?
Julio Macias: One hundred percent. Yes. On the day, there were lines that we had crafted and kind of thought about saying this or that. And then Lauren, she ran over and she pitched this idea that I loved and I think everyone agreed: don’t say anything. Just nod. Let this die with me [Oscar] and don’t carry this burden with you. You don’t need to go retaliate with anybody. You don’t need to hold anyone responsible. I know who shot me down, who shot Oscar down, but it really needed to end there. And if I said “stop” maybe that will anger him to like, “What do you mean stop? No, I’m gonna go.” If he says it was this person, then we absolutely know he’s going to go after the guy. But if he says nothing, and he just holds that intimate moment with his brother so that it really does resonate with his feelings, and so that Cesar does have to walk around with this idea of: what did he mean? He didn’t give me anything which, in a way, gives me a blank slate.
I feel like Oscar didn’t want his final moments to be about someone else.
Julio Macias: Yes. And that was another thing. It was like, I was doing all of this for you, so let me hold your attention for these last few moments. Let me show you how much I love you and I care about you. And that’s not by telling you that’s by showing.
So Lauren told you who shot Oscar…
Julio Macias: We have our suspicions. I feel like I know exactly who shot me down.
Okay, you want to spill since the show’s coming to an end?
Julio Macias: No.
Does Diego know?
Julio Macias: No. Different people have different ideas. What I like about keeping my secret… again, this was never written. Who knows [who it was]? But I like the idea that it truly doesn’t matter. Because what Oscar wants is for people to move on from this. Whoever pulled the trigger, whatever flag they were raising was influenced by generational trauma, by cultural segregation, by powers that be that put you in this situation. So it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing whatever color you’re wearing. The pain wasn’t directed at Oscar. He just happened to be on the wrong side of the gun that day.
I think what carries over, the legacy that Oscar leaves, is this bond and this love between these two brothers. I love when Isabel says to Cesar, “The only person he loved more than me was you.” And I think that’s so true. It makes me tear up thinking about it because it’s just so true. Oscar went to the ends of the earth for his brother. It was such a beautiful but such a tragic scene and just seeing you guys hold each other’s gaze in those final moments was beautiful. The bond between Oscar and Cesar has been over the course of the past 4 seasons. How has it been tying it up with Diego?
Julio Macias: I wrote a goodbye tweet, I suppose, because it’s like this long [note], but it summarized everything that Oscar gave me. I got emotional. I’m like, I’m sorry that I couldn’t do more for you, man, but I’m grateful for the strength you gave me to play you truthfully, tragedy and all. This guy never backed down, so I wasn’t going to back down from this last moment. As far as Diego goes, even though I’ve been acting for a little bit longer and worked on both sides of the camera doing music videos, and then jumping on this side and acting, this is my first big show. This was Diego’s second show ever, so there was the sense of growing together. At first, I thought that he was learning a lot from me, and then later on I realized how much I was learning from him outside of On My Block in just holding your attention and understanding that the job goes beyond action and cut, which is where I think that I live. I think that that’s where everything that I do should matter, but it’s not true with the idea of representation, then I have to now hold myself… I have to be a role model in a way. My actions outside of set reflects on me and the community, and that’s something that I learned from Diego. Diego comports himself in interviews and in red carpets with such distinction, and I know that I’m going to be working for a very long time, but that kid’s going to be a movie star. I can see it.
Was your final scene that devastating but beautiful tie scene?
Julio Macias: That was my last scene. I haven’t gotten to that episode. I don’t know if I can get to that episode. I couldn’t hold one take because I wasn’t saying goodbye to Cesar, I was saying goodbye to Diego, and the culmination of years of working with him. It was a “you got this, man. You don’t need me on set for you to shine. You don’t need me to be your cheerleader because you got it, kid.”
It was such a beautiful scene, and I absolutely loved it. Were there tears?
Julio Macias: That was a tough day because the shooting scene was adrenaline. It was high. Diego had the heavy end on that when it came to emotion. I’ve mentioned this before but for me, it was like I told my friend as I was filming, I got so prepared for this moment, then I close my eyes and then I was like, oh, right, Julio is not actually dead. I’m still here, and now I’m just flopping around while Diego is doing his thing, but the tie scene… I couldn’t hold it together. I think Lauren was able to get one take where I wasn’t just absolutely [crying noises].
I was like, this emotion is real because I can see it in both of your eyes. I was like, this had to have been his last scene. As we learned this week, the On My Block world is expanding. How do you feel about the Freeridge spinoff?
Julio Macias: I’m excited for it. Just like everyone else, I know nothing about it, but I like the idea of passing the baton on and having a new generation sort of take over because we still know what’s up with RollerWorld. After all this time, we still don’t know what’s up with RollerWorld. So I think it’ll be fun for them to explore that. Obviously, I won’t be coming back because I’m in the ground, but who knows?