Adam Rodriguez as Raul Vega in PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS - Season 1 - "Children of the Royal Sun" |©2020 Showtime/Warrick Page

Adam Rodriguez as Raul Vega in PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS – Season 1 – “Children of the Royal Sun” |©2020 Showtime/Warrick Page

In Part 2 of our exclusive interview with actor Adam Rodriguez, he talks more about his role as Raul Vega on Showtime’s Sunday-night supernatural drama PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS, which is set in 1938. Rodriguez also talks about the end of CRIMINAL MINDS, where he was a series regular for the final three seasons of its fifteen-season run, and guest-starring on an episode of ONE DAY AT A TIME.

ASSIGNMENT X: Do you do anything different to play somebody who’s in the ‘30s? Is there a different attitude, or a different way you carry yourself?

ADAM RODRIGUEZ: Yes, absolutely. I think there are certain modern behaviors that you have to be aware that you do as a person or a character, and you want to make those disappear, and tailor the character to exist the way somebody would at that time. It’s more than mannerisms. It’s not the feelings – I don’t think as human beings we change our feelings over the course of evolution – but I think that the way that you move, the way that you talk, the way that you might view certain things or feel about certain things, all of those things manifest themselves in different physical ways or in different aspects of behavior. I think you do your best to make sure that those things are suitable for the character that you’re playing, and the time that they’re living in.

AX: Raul gets shot and almost dies in the first episode. Do you do anything different because of Raul’s injury and the recovery process?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. The injury definitely took some time for Raul to recover from, and there’s a bit of a lag. It’s not tremendous, because for story purposes, we had to keep progressing and moving things forward, but there’s a difference. There was a lot of discussion with John [Logan] about this. There were moments when Raul could step into his old self, and show signs of being his old self, and then regress pretty quickly back to being a bit more feeble, and slower, and not all there the way he once was, and it’s frustrating for him. Like you saw in Episode 3, there’s a moment I have with Tiago, of anger, of strength, and it’s strong love, really. Raul comes alive in that moment, and moments like that take so much out of him that then he’s weak after that, and he slips back into having to deal with the challenges that the injury leaves him to deal with.

Natalie Dormer as Magda, Rory Kinnear as Peter Craft, Nathan Lane as Lewis Michener, Lorenza Izzo as Santa Muerte, Daniel Zovatto as Tiago Vega, Kerry Bishé as Sister Molly, Michael Gladis as Charlton Townsend, Jessica Garza as Josefina Vega, Johnathan Nieves as Mateo Vega, Adriana Barraza as Maria Vega and Adam Rodriguez as Raul Vega in PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS - Season 1 |©2020 Showtime/Jim Fiscus

Natalie Dormer as Magda, Rory Kinnear as Peter Craft, Nathan Lane as Lewis Michener, Lorenza Izzo as Santa Muerte, Daniel Zovatto as Tiago Vega, Kerry Bishé as Sister Molly, Michael Gladis as Charlton Townsend, Jessica Garza as Josefina Vega, Johnathan Nieves as Mateo Vega, Adriana Barraza as Maria Vega and Adam Rodriguez as Raul Vega in PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS – Season 1 |©2020 Showtime/Jim Fiscus

AX: Are you wearing prosthetics makeup to depict the facial injuries?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. There’s a [bloody-looking contact] lens in one eye. That eye heals over time, and then there are prosthetics that also morph over the course of time to leave behind a certain look that I think will probably be Raul’s look for the duration of the show.

AX: How is dealing with the prosthetics?

RODRIGUEZ: [Makeup artist] James Rohland is brilliant. We’ve gotten it down to a system. I can come in there, and what used to take an hour-and-a-half now takes thirty-five to forty minutes tops, and he’s just masterful at what he does. He has such a sense of how to work with the makeup. And it’s not just applying the prosthetic. The way that he paints it, and the way that he maintains it throughout the course of the shooting day, it’s really something to see. It goes along the lines of what everything on this show has been. Everybody involved is truly the masters of their craft. And you can see it on the screen in every aspect.

AX: Does that inform your performance?

RODRIGUEZ: One hundred percent. Oh, my God. After the first day of shooting, I called Christie Wittenborn to thank her for all of the incredible work that she did with the costuming, because it totally creates and solidifies the world that you’re pretending to exist in, because it’s that much more real when you look around and all of the details to everything are as impeccable as they are. Maria Caso, who did all of the production design, absolutely blew me away. I called to thank her as well. Because all of these people doing their jobs at the level that they do it, it only allows you to be better at your craft.

As an actor, if I can go in [to the bedroom set], and a book that I know that my character has read, and I’ve read for research for my character, I’ve asked for it to be there on my nightstand, because it’s something that I want to connect to, and you look over, and there it is, and it’s in the jacket that it would be in from that time period. It’s so hard to remember all of the details, because there are so many, it’s a deck of cards sitting on a table, a pack of cigarettes. Every single little thing, props, production design, costumes – the magic that that creates, it makes that world that much more real. It allows me to embody that character even more deeply than I might have otherwise, and I’m grateful for it. It’s such a treat to have that.

AX: There are scenes where Raul is conversing in Spanish. Did you have to learn that dialogue phonetically, or do you speak Spanish?

Adam Rodriguez as Raul Vega in PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS - Season 1 - "Santa Muerte" |©2020 Showtime/Justin Lubin

Adam Rodriguez as Raul Vega in PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS – Season 1 – “Santa Muerte” |©2020 Showtime/Justin Lubin

RODRIGUEZ: I do. Not as well as I would like to. I certainly wish that I had a better handle on my Spanish than I do, but I can get by. I can read the lines in Spanish and recite them to an extent. I wouldn’t be able to, let’s say, do something that I would have to improvise or think on my feet in Spanish, because I’m an Anglophone. I think in English. But if I have a scene to play in Spanish, and there are several lines in Spanish, that’s not a problem for me at all.

I’ve always regretted not taking a stronger interest in Spanish at a younger age, but I’ve worked to a degree – certainly not as hard as I could have – over the past fifteen years or so to improve my Spanish. And making that effort, I realized, is really just about taking all of the shame away from not knowing the language, and embracing the fact that, first and foremost, I’m American. Once I took away the stigma or bad feeling that I had because I didn’t speak Spanish and my last name was Rodriguez, which is unfair, because the truth of the matter is, I don’t have any friends named Schmidt who speak German, or any friends named Bertolucci that speak Italian. It’s America. I’m third-generation. If you come here from somewhere else, you assimilate. But for a long time, I felt badly about not speaking Spanish. And people have a tendency to try and make you feel that way as a result.

AX: Being Latinx it doesn’t necessarily mean you would speak Spanish. My last name is Bernstein, and the only Hebrew I can say is prayers, and I know a little tiny bit of Yiddish [laughs].

RODRIGUEZ: I appreciate the question. It is a thing that I think a lot of Latinx-generation kids have to deal with. And sadly, what I’ve come to realize as I grew up was, I wish that I had learned it more and had a better handle on it simply because it’s just a way to communicate with more people. And that would be the beauty of it, to be able to converse with fluency and ease with other people in another language. It’s a gift. But I did end up realizing the importance of this, and the beauty of it, and I have embraced it, and I really have done my best to try and speak it more often, and get better at speaking it, and there’s certainly room for improvement. I wish I knew ten languages.

AX: To ask about something else, how did you feel about the way CRIMINAL MINDS ended?

RODRIGUEZ: Oh, I was sad to see that show come to an end. I had such a great time with the cast and the crew there for the three years that I was there. I think it’s hard to wrap up a show that’s been on for fifteen seasons. I think that [executive producer/show runner] Erica Messer did a great job. She loved that show, she loved that cast and that crew, and she was really a phenomenal show runner, a wonderful leader of people and of talent, to be able to turn out what she was able to turn out every week. It’s a really hard show to write, especially after fifteen seasons, to keep finding new ways for the team to do their jobs every week and still have it be interesting.

Like I said, I’m really happy to have been a part of that whole thing, and sad to see it go, but I felt great about the way they decided to send it all off. I thought it was really warm, and kind of left things a little bit open. There wasn’t too much closure on everything, because I think as an audience member, if you watch something for fifteen years, I don’t know that you want to feel like it comes to a complete close. I think you want to feel like, “Oh, life goes on, and where did it go for them? I wonder. Maybe they’ll come back.” That kind of thing.

Adam Rodriguez as Raul Vega and Lorenza Izzo as Santa Muerte in PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS - Season 1 - "Josefina And The Holy Spirit" |©2020 Showtime/Warrick Page

Adam Rodriguez as Raul Vega and Lorenza Izzo as Santa Muerte in PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS – Season 1 – “Josefina And The Holy Spirit” |©2020 Showtime/Warrick Page

AX: Maybe they will …

RODRIGUEZ: I would have no problem with it.

AX: They gave your character a great dog on CRIMINAL MINDS …

RODRIGUEZ: Oh, my God. I love that dog.

AX: You also did a guest appearance on an episode of ONE DAY AT A TIME this season …

RODRIGUEZ: I did. What a treat. That was great. Justina Machado, who’s the lead on that show, is one of my first friends out here in L.A. Within months of me getting to L.A., we became friends, and remained friends for all these years. I also know [ONE DAY AT A TIME executive producer] Gloria Calderon Kellett, who writes the show, and I had run into Gloria somewhere, and she was like, “I want to have you on the show,” and I was like, “I would come do your show in a heartbeat,” because I think the show is fantastic. We [Rodriguez and his wife] watched at least the first two seasons. I think we’re a bit behind now. But think it’s so beautifully done. I think that Gloria managed to modernize the show [a reboot of the series created by Norman Lear, Whitney Blake and Allan Manings, which originally ran 1975-1984], broaden the audience by focusing on a Latin family, and most importantly to me, as a big fan of Norman Lear’s work, I think that she really managed to maintain the spirit and the heart of what Norman Lear does through his writing. There was just always something to be learned, and the laughs, the delivery system, it disarms you and allows you to all of a sudden think in a way you might not have thought before if you were on guard. I think that Norman is a true American treasure, and I think that Gloria has done something very difficult, and really maintained the spirit and the essence of the kind of work that he does, and make it her own, and it’s really a testament to her talent.

So when she asked me to be on the show, I was ecstatic. It was really just one scene, but it was with Rita Moreno. I’d never worked with Rita before, she’s a legend, and I was all too happy to play a scene with her. And we had a ball. I loved her, loved being in the presence, in awe of her. She’s almost ninety years old, this woman, and the energy of a fifteen-year-old, just firing on all cylinders – quick-witted, funny, she had me cracking up, and just fully alive. Inspirational, like, “Okay, this is what ninety looks like for me now. I’m ready. Bring it on.”

AX: And what would you most like people to know about PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS?

RODRIGUEZ: I would most like them to know that, no matter what they’re looking at on that show, they’re looking at themselves.

Related: Exclusive Interview with PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS star Adam Rodriguez on Season 1 – Part 1

Related: Interview with PENNY DREADFUL star Timothy Dalton on Season 2

Related: Interview with PENNY DREADFUL creator John Logan on Season 2

Related: Interview with PENNY DREADFUL creator John Logan on Season 1

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Article: Exclusive Interview with PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS star Adam Rodriguez on Season 1 – Part 2

 

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