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Diego Boneta May Be Playing a Nerd or a Serial Killer—Fans Don’t Know Which and Neither Does He

What it’s like to star in one of the scariest shows on primetime television

The body count might be rising at Wallace University, the fictional college where Fox’s Scream Queens takes place, but actor Diego Boneta says he’s having the time of his life. The 90210 alum and singer—his third solo album will be released this month—says that playing Pete Martinez, a puppy dog of a school newspaper reporter who may or may not be lead a double life as a masked killer, is a lot more fun than it is terrifying. Here, he talks to DuJour about the one location that made his skin crawl.

You came to Scream Queens in a roundabout way. What happened? 

It’s kind of a crazy story. Five years ago, I tested for the second season of Glee for the role of Sam, which my friend Chord Overstreet got, but based on that tape I booked Rock of Ages which was my first feature film, alongside Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and pretty much the craziest cast ever. And of course when I didn’t get Glee, it was tragic, but then five years later, I get a call from Ryan Murphy telling me, “Diego, I remember you from the test and I want you to be one of the leads of my new show Scream Queens.” That’s how I got it.

And what made it something you wanted to do?

In that conversation with Ryan, he pitched me on what the show was, but they hadn’t yet finished the script, so all of us signed onto it without even having a script, which is crazy. I spoke to him and he told me about the show and about my character, and just hearing how passionate he was about it, I was like, “Dude, I’m in.”

Pete is either the nicest guy on the show or he’s a serial killer. What’s not to like about playing him, right? 

The most appealing thing about playing Pete is that he’s the boy next door who also has a darkness. So he’s not your typical nice guy. I’ve played the sweet guy before, and I wanted to do something different. That’s something that, as an actor, just keeps you on your toes and keeps you present. There’s no way for you to be bored.

Has the character surprised you at all?

The challenging part here is that we don’t really have an arc. We play what’s given to us on that day because the episodes are not written yet, they’re still writing them. For all intents and purposes, we’re kind of on the same page as the viewers, we don’t really know much. Like I don’t know anything that you wouldn’t know now except I’m maybe a couple episodes ahead. Normally when I start to prepare for a character, I look at the arc and see how it develops from beginning to end, but I don’t even know how this character ends. I mean, I just have to play what’s on the page and we’ll find out at the end if he’s the killer.

It’s a scary show to watch. Is there anything frightening about filming it?

There was a haunted house that we shot in was very spooky. That was a real location, and it was so weird—it looked just as freaky in person as it did on the screen. Other than that, I laugh more shooting the show than I get scared. To me, it’s much more of a comedy than a horror.