Melissa Fumero is back on the comedy scene, and she’s going from the police department to the video store. Melissa stars in the highly-anticipated Netflix series Blockbuster, which premieres on November 3. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Melissa about taking on this new role after 8 seasons as Amy Santiago.
“I was very hesitant to join another workplace comedy. However, when they told me that Vanessa Ramos was sending me her scripts, I got very excited,” Melissa told HollywoodLife while promoting Crest/Oral-B’s Closing America’s Smile Gap campaign. “I’m a huge fan of hers. I know her from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. She’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I read her scripts, and it was so good. I immediately connected with Eliza who felt very far from Amy. When we meet her, she’s kind of in a big transition in her life. She’s a little bit lost and trying to figure out what’s next. She’s not happy about working at Blockbuster and has all these things going on in her life that I think are very relatable.”
At the Blockbuster premiere event, Melissa also admitted that she was “nervous” about playing Eliza initially. “I wanted to make sure it felt like a very different character, and she very much was,” she said. “There’s a little bit of a darkness to her and things haven’t gone the way she thought they would. She’s a little lost — and Amy was never lost. That felt really relatable and intriguing to me. She felt like more of a woman that I know and that I’ve met, whereas Amy always felt sort of superhuman. Amy Santiago is like who we aspire to be, and Eliza is like we’re all a little bit more messy.”
The actress noted that Eliza’s marriage is “kind of on the rocks, and she’s figuring out who she is. So she’s reluctantly at Blockbuster, she isn’t too psyched that that’s where she’s working at the moment. But she’s got to pay her rent so… I think the first season is kind of her journey of falling in love with her life a bit, and that’s really fun to watch.”
The Netflix series follows a fun and quirky group working at the last Blockbuster Video in the United States. Blockbuster used to be a mainstay for millions of people, but the rise of streaming led to the demise of video stores. After all these years, people who lived through the Blockbuster era had such a fondness for that time of their lives.
“For me, it was something that I just kind of took for granted,” Melissa told HollywoodLife. “I didn’t think it would ever go anywhere. It was such a staple of my childhood and my teen years. When you would go to Blockbuster you inevitably would see somebody that you knew. There was a strong community aspect to it, and we don’t have a lot of things like that anymore. I think we all have love-hate relationships with the digital age, but it’s made a lot of stuff easier. It’s also kind of taken a lot of just human connection experiences away from us.”
Melissa hopes to see some of her Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-stars on the show at some point. “There’s a lot of Brooklyn peeps over at Blockbuster. I think if they had an idea and it was right for one of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine actors, I think they would love to have them on,” the actress said.
The mom-of-two has also teamed up with Crest and Oral-B for their new Closing America’s Smile Gap campaign. Melissa explained that she’s raising “awareness around the issue that most kids in underserved communities don’t have access to basic dental care, things like toothbrushes and toothpaste. It was an issue that I was very naive to and wasn’t aware of, so I’m really grateful to have met both Oral-B and Crest in learning more about this. It’s just shocking how large of an issue it is. They want to close what they’re calling America’s smile gap. For each product purchase, Crest and Oral-B are going to donate to a child in need. They’ve also had many events in these communities, and they bring dentists and bring toothbrushes and toothpaste. There’s a lot of outreach, and I’m just here to help support the campaign and raise awareness.”
She said dental care is “such a simple and basic need. We really have to fight to make sure that every child has access to that because as we all know poor oral hygiene can lead to a host of other health issues.” As part of Publicis Groupe’s PGOne, MSL was the lead creative agency with Saatchi & Saatchi and PXP supporting production.