Harsh Times - Freddy Rodriguez interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
FORMER Six Feet Under star Freddy Rodriguez talks about appearing alongside Christian Bale in Harsh Times (released on DVD today, April 30) as well as his hopes for his career.
The charismatic star also talks about Grindhouse, the double-feature from directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, in which he takes one of the lead roles in the Planet Terror segment…
Q. I would imagine you’re very proud of your work on Harsh Times. It’s an excellent movie…
Freddy Rodriguez: Absolutely. It was a very enjoyable and hard experience. I’m extremely proud of it.
Q. How hard was the experience?
Freddy Rodriguez: Well, it was especially hard for me because I was still doing Six Feet Under at the same time. I was working seven days a week, 14 hours a day at the time. So it was pretty tough and intense. But it’s rare as an actor to get something you can really sink your teeth into, so it was worth it.
Q. How do you go about pitching a performance when you’re up against someone as intense as Christian Bale is in this film?
Freddy Rodriguez: I felt I kept up. I went toe to toe with him. It was two actors playing emotional tennis.
Q. How was filming in LA and some of the rougher neighbourhoods?
Freddy Rodriguez: Well, I grew up in a very similar background, so it was familiar territory for me. Some of the areas we filmed in were similar to the areas that I grew up in.
Q. But was there ever anywhere you shot that perhaps gave you cause for concern? Training Day, for instance, went into some of the toughest neighbourhoods in LA…
Freddy Rodriguez: We were always aware of the possibility of danger but I wasn’t afraid. I was used to that.
Q. There’s a case to be made for saying that you’re currently one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood. How have the past couple of years felt to you?
Freddy Rodriguez: [Laughs] It’s been a pretty busy couple of years but it’s also been wonderful. I’ve worked with some really gifted directors during that time and it’s been fantastic.
Q. Among those directors are Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez on Grindhouse. How was that?
Freddy Rodriguez: Grindhouse was one of those rare experiences where you get to work with two genius directors. I just wanted to be a fly on the wall and absorb that genius. I knew I was a part of history in the making. So it was great to be part of that whole experience.
Q. Were you familiar with Grindhouse movies before being offered the part?
Freddy Rodriguez: I was familiar with Grindhouse movies before that, I just didn’t have an appreciation for what they were doing. As a child my father would take us to the Grindhouse double and triple bills, so I remember it being part of my family entertainment. I didn’t appreciate the content then though. It was only after Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez said what they wanted to do that I began to appreciate them more.
Q. I gather you were invited to Quentin’s house to watch Grindhouse movies as part of your research? That must have been fun…
Freddy Rodriguez: These guys have such a love for film but sometimes the untrained eye may watch a film and not see the gems that these guys see in them. Sometimes it takes someone to point it out. Some viewers see elements that are cool in them but it takes someone else to point out what they feel is cool about it. So it was a great experience and a really educational one as well.
Q. How about the physical demands of the role? It’s action-packed to say the least…
Freddy Rodriguez: It was my first time playing the action hero and it was very physical. I did months of training – fight training, gun training. I have never prepared for a role that way before, it was completely new to me. So it was very, very tough at times. In fact, I just took a break from making films after Grindhouse because it was such a gruelling experience. It was great but it was physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I needed to take a breather.
Q. Why do you think audiences have had such a hard time taking to it in America?
Freddy Rodriguez: Some people get it but I think the biggest problem they have is getting their heads around the whole double feature aspect of it. You’d think people would remember the old format but the younger generation doesn’t seem to. The whole Grindhouse experience has been a real education.
Q. Do you think that, given time, it will find an audience perhaps in the same way that films like The Shawshank Redemption did?
Freddy Rodriguez: I think it is one of those films that will be around for a long time. Perhaps it will find a bigger audience once it’s released on DVD.
Q. UK viewers have just seen you in an episode of ER and you’ve recently been in cinemas in Bobby and Lady In The Water. Is that variety of role something you’ve always aspired to?
Freddy Rodriguez: Yeah, I’ve been trying for the past couple of years to take on roles that are challenging and that are versatile. I like trying to do something different with each role. I want people to be able to look at my body of work and say: “Wow, this guy is really doing something different each time they see me.”
Q. Do you still look back on your Six Feet Under days with affection and miss the show at all?
Freddy Rodriguez: I absolutely miss them. I look back on that period very fondly. I miss the people that I worked with, I miss coming to work every day and getting to read and say those beautiful words that were written on the page every day. They were a great bunch of people to work with and it continues to hold very special memories for me.
Check out our verdict on Freddy Rodriguez in…
And get the lowdown on Grindhouse