Paola Núñez Shares A Real Life-Horror Story + Dishes On Filming “Bad Boys For Life” With Will Smith

Paola NunezPhoto Credit: Jonathan Caballero

Paola Núñez is about to have the biggest year of her career. The Mexican actress, whom fans might recognize from AMC’s “The Son” opposite Pierce Brosnan, stars in the second season of “The Purge” (which premieres tomorrow, Oct. 15)—which is based on the horror film franchise of the same name—as well as opposite Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and Vanessa Hudgens in the third “Bad Boys” film, “Bad Boys for Life” (out Jan. 17, 2020). We chatted with Núñez about everything from her real-life brushes with horror (she has a ghost story!) and what shooting with Smith and Lawrence was really like behind the scenes.

Paola NunezPhoto Credit: Jonathan Caballero

What was the scariest part of filming the second season of “The Purge”?

I didn’t really get scared when I was shooting. There was one occasion in which I was being chased by an enormous guy and his mask was so scary that the screaming was definitely not acting!

We know that “The Purge” shoots in New Orleans. What was your favorite part about being in that city?

I rented a house in the Garden District during my stay and I loved walking down its beautiful oak shaded streets and historic mansions. Never seen anything like it.

Even though “The Purge” isn’t so much about haunting per se, it’s still terrifying. As Halloween is coming up, do you have any brushes with the supernatural you can recount?

I do, actually. I had a terrifying experience in my apartment when I lived in Mexico. I was in bed, about to fall asleep and all of a sudden I felt that someone sat at the corner of the bed. I lived alone and I was sure that whatever that was, it was not human. I froze. I closed my eyes. Slowly, this “thing/entity” started moving on top of me. I could feel the weight of its extremities on the bed. I wanted to open my eyes but I was petrified. Finally, it put all of its weight on my body and started to breath loudly. Deep inhalations. I felt like it wanted to steal my energy or maybe it was just feeding from it. After a few deep breaths. It slowly started to get off of me and stayed on the corner of the bed for a moment. Then it left. I kept my eyes closed for a few a while and then I opened them, got up, just to make sure it was not a dream. It was real. It happened. It happened to me. Can it get scarier than that?

Tell us a bit about your role in the upcoming “Bad Boys For Life” and how you identify with your character, Rita.

Rita is the head of AMMO (Advanced Miami Metro Operations) and Mike’s (Will Smith) former girlfriend. She is a no nonsense, smart, tough woman. What is not to like? She is the woman I aspire to be.

Paola NunezPhoto Credit:German Legarreta

How did you get into shape for your role in “Bad Boys For Life”? Can you describe your diet and workout routine in detail?

I am naturally really skinny and because of that I was bullied in high school, so I started doing weight training since I was 16 years old. I mean, I got really obsessed with muscles. I wanted to grow. Actually, I worked as an aerobics instructor for a couple of years in my home town Tecate, Mexico. After a lot of hard work I finally accomplished the body that I wanted. I was ripped!! Funny enough, when I moved to LA, 4 years ago, my muscles were being a little bit of an obstacle. I was not booking and my managers told me to lose muscle mass. I did, and started booking after that. I still workout of course but I don’t kill myself at the gym. I stay in good shape, I run a lot now. In Bad Boys I had a scene in which I had to run really fast to catch up to a moving camera that was moving in front of me. After the first take everyone came to see if I was ok, if I needed oxygen or something. They couldn’t believe that I could run that fast and that I was not even out of breath. They were so surprised, that I was surprised too at their reaction. I guess I AM in good shape, better than I thought. We had a lot of fun action scenes that I really enjoyed.

How do you hold your own when you’re with two guys who are absolutely hilarious? Was being on set with Will and Martin just total fun?

I don’t. I mean, I had to pinch myself every time. “Martin” and “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” were fundamental in my development as an actor. I always wanted to do comedy like these two guys. They are masters at their craft, and I got to see that up close. I remember telling Will that I felt like the luckiest Mexican girl in the world. He laughed.

What kind of projects are you seeking out? “Bad Boys For Life,” “The Son” and “The Purge” don’t seem to have a lot of commonality, so how do these projects speak to you?

They are all similar in the way that the women I play are all bad asses. I find it so fulfilling that I get to “get dressed” with these amazing personalities. Remarkable women that fight till death for what they believe in.