Actor Freddy Rodriguez knows a thing or two about the entertainment business, having starred in more than 25 movies and television shows to date. And with several movies slated for release next year, the Puerto Rican star is busy with his latest project as one of the leads in the highly anticipated film “CBGB,” about the infamous 1970s New York City night club.
“The movie is all about how the club came together and how it was a real launch pad for bands like Blondie and The Ramones,” said the baby faced 37-year-old while on location in Savannah, Georgia. Rodriguez plays the role of ‘Idaho,’ a heroin addict who helps start the club alongside CBGB owner Hily Kristal, played by Alan Rickman. He will be starring alongside well-known actors like “Rock of Ages” star Malin Akerman, the Twilight Saga’s Ashley Green and “Hangover” favorite Justin Bartha.
“I’ve never played a character that is so addicted to a substance the way ‘Idaho’ is,” confesses the dad of two, who spent time with recovering and struggling heroin addicts in preparation for the role. It’s been grueling trying to understand the dependent relationship that addiction entails, but the energy with which Rodriguez has approached this role is characteristic of his enthusiasm for acting.
The Chicago, Illinois native first began theater training at the young age of 15 and since then, has literally done it all. While fans may remember him best from his days on the hit HBO series “Six Feet Under” (for which he earned an Emmy nod), Rodriguez is no stranger to comedy (we loved him starring alongside America Ferrera as “Gio” in Ugly Betty) or even family-friendly fare (who could forget his rough but loveable character in “Nothing like the Holidays”?). He’s a renaissance man when it comes to acting, choosing each role deliberately and always delivering a sensational performance.
But it turns out that Rodriguez’ secret to success isn’t so complicated.
“I have to read a script and then internally I have to respond to it,” says Rodriguez. “Whether it’s a $200 million dollar movie or a small budget indie film, I have to be able to find something within myself that will make a paying audience member feel and believe it’s true.”
And has it been difficult to find those roles given the onslaught of success that “Six Feet Under” had? Since its conclusion in 2005, the show has been called one of the “greatest television series of all time,” but does Rodriguez feel his five-season stint as Federico Diaz was the pinnacle of his career?
“It was responsible for many of my successes and of course, as an actor you always want to be remembered for your hits,” Rodriguez divulges. “But I’m a strong believer in what’s meant to be – I don’t regret taking any of the roles I’ve done. Even something really awful, like the [1998 sitcom] ‘Oh, Grow Up’ was a launch pad, because [director] Alan Ball later wrote ‘Six Feet’ with me in mind.”
With no regrets and a hefty list of success projects behind him, the elusive Oscar still remains as the ultimate accomplishment. And yet, that’s not how Rodriguez defines success.
“I just want to be able to look back at my career and be proud of the choices I’ve made,” says the Rodriguez, who’s just been tapped to join the ensemble of ‘Code Name Geronimo,’ a drama about the hunt for terrorist Osama bin Laden. “If those choices lead me to an Oscar or something great, that’s fantastic – if not, I’ll be proud either way.”
And while accolades aren’t what fuels Rodriguez’ journey as an actor, neither does partying. You won’t find the happily married dad at the clubs or posing cheekily on the red carpet.
“I can dance, of course! Isn’t that a requirement for being Puerto Rican?” chuckles Rodriguez. “But being out at the clubs has never been my thing. On a professional level, I’m 100% focused on my work and I want to be respected.”
But don’t think for a moment that the amateur DJ (a hobby pal John Leguizamo makes fun of him for) is a goody two-shoes. When asked about whether he ever considered conceding to Hollywood’s unwritten rule that Latinos play strictly Latino characters, Rodriguez laughs.
“I’m Latino and my last name is Rodriguez so the rules say I’m not supposed to play roles other than my ethnicity,” says the actor.
“But I do. Some rules are meant to be broken!”