Strange things can happen in the telenovela world.
Evil twins appear, dead husbands re-appear … and the star has a seven-minute, high-octane monolog.
“It was a phenomenal challenge,” said Gina Rodriguez.
Viewers will see that Wednesday, when “Jane the Virgin” starts its fifth and final season.
As the fourth ended, Jane (Rodriguez) suddenly met Michael (Brett Dier), the husband she’d been mourning for years. There’s an explanation – there always is – followed by a flurry of emotions.
Rodriguez said she’d known about this since writer/producer Jennie Urman gave her a script with Michael dying. It was “really difficult, only because we both love Brett Dier so much …. That was really, really devastating to me …. hen she was like, ‘But he’s coming back.’”
The catch was that Rodriguez had to keep it a secret for 18 months. Then came this season-opener script. “I saw this seven-page monolog. I was like, ‘All right, Jennie! Let’s do this!’”
She “came to the table read and had it memorized,” Urman said. “That’s pretty awesome.”
This isn’t just Hamlet staring at a spotlight. The seven-minute stretch includes joy and rage, pants on and off, mouth full and empty, with silent reactions from mother and grandmother.
It’s an all-purpose acting exercise, with Rodriguez (who also directed the episode) doing it non-stop.
“We did five takes … but we could have put any one of the takes on TV,” Urman said.
The show follows the Latin American tradition of telenovelas, with sweeping, soap-opera stories. The difference is that telenovelas are finite; this one (like “Ugly Betty”) has continued for years, with a narrator often poking fun at the tele-twists.
Now, Urman says, it has this big twist. “I knew that was a trope … we were going to save up ’til the end.”
— “Jane the Virgin,” 9 p.m. Wednesdays, CW
— Final season starts March 27 and is expected to continue through July