Actress Génesis Rodríguez plays a bounty hunter most wouldn’t dare cross. (Photo/Courtesy Universal Pictures)

Génesis Rodríguez: Filming “Identity Thief” with an accent didn’t “come easily to me”

Génesis Rodríguez didn’t hesitate to get into character as the sassy and strong-willed bounty hunter Marisol in “Identity Thief,” but she did find that playing a tough chick was a bit more difficult that she had anticipated.

“You could say I’m a pretty confident girl,” says Rodríguez, whose new film hits theaters nationwide Friday. “But I’m not a bad ass. It doesn’t come naturally to act like I’m super cool – when I’m actually kind of a klutz, a goofball and totally uncoordinated. When I have to act tough – that’s real acting!”

Rodríguez, who teams up with rapper T.I. as a hard-as-nails duo out to get identity thief Diana (played by hilarious “Bridesmaids” star Melissa McCarthy), says that her stint as a telenovela star helped get her into character on the set of the star-studded comedy.

Telenovelas gave me the training to control all my emotions,” says Rodríguez, who had a six-year contract with Telemundo and achieved small-screen fame with novelas like “Dame Chocolate” and “Doña Bárbara.” “I can tap into any emotion pretty quickly without needing to rehearse, which was important when you’re filming 35 scenes a day.  I get to develop emotions differently now for movies, but nothing could prepare me for film as well as novelas.”

And while Rodríguez  – whose last film was “The Last Stand” with Arnold Schwarzenegger – can cry, fall into love’s deepest despair or writhe with jealously within a second’s notice, she found that she was way too embarrassed to ever try rapping a few lines with co-star T.I.

“I would die! I would never admit to having any rap skills to him,” says Rodríguez, who sang and starred opposite Will Ferrell in 2012’s “Casa de Mi Padre.” “I might reconsider after a few beers during karaoke, but I will never, ever rap in front of T.I.P.”

And while Rodríguez had a great time filming action scenes in “Identity Thief” (“I got to shoot guns,” exclaims the 25-year-old), she admits that the gloss of such a high-profile role isn’t always what it seems.

“I had to create an accent for my character in this movie, and let me tell you, an accent doesn’t come easily to me,” confides Rodríguez, whose father is Venezuelan pop idol José “El Puma” Luis Rodriguez. “Sure, I grew up around accents, but I’m from Miami – I’m as American as a cheeseburger.”

Rodríguez is honest about the struggle she’s had landing roles that go against type. Yes, she’s a confident Latina, she assures us, but she wants to achieve success on her own terms.

“I’m sure people won’t consider me for the blonde roles, but soon enough I hope to change that,” explains the actress, who counts Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek as role models. “These days, when people see that your last name is Rodríguez, they think that you can only play a Marisol or Maria. I love those roles and I’m proud to represent all Latinas, but I feel that I can also represent the Becky’s and the Ashley’s as well.”

“I feel that our people need to see us in those roles and I want to fight to get there.”

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