5 Questions with Génesis Rodríguez of “Casa de mi Padre”

Be sure to check out our interview with the “Casa de mi Padre” cast and crew, including Will Farrell, Diego Luna, Génesis Rodríguez, Nick Offerman, and writer Andrew Steele!

If you’re a regular viewer of Telemundo telenovelas such as “Prisionera,” “Dame Chocolate” and “Doña Bárbara,” it’s a bit odd you’re reading an online men’s magazine. If you have watched them, however, odds are you are already a fan of the beautiful young woman whose full name is Génesis Rodríguez Pérez. A second generation Latin American TV star — her father is Venezuelan legend José Luis Rodríguez, aka “el Puma” — Ms. Rodríguez (“La Pumita”) is Miami born and bred. She is, to say the least, equally loquacious in both Spanish and English and, in the nicest possible way, just a bit wacky in her approach to chatting up the press. So much so, in fact, we expect her to conquer Hollywood shortly.

A seasoned veteran with plenty of onscreen gravitas at the shockingly young age of 24, she makes a entirely credible romantically conflicted leading lady opposite budding Latin American leading man Will Ferrell (pronounced “Wheel Fer-all”) in the over-the-top Spanish language Mexploitation/telenovela spoof, “Casa de mi Padre.” “Casa” however, is not Ms. Rodríguez’s only recent brush with the big time. After a relatively small part as one of Turtle’s bevy of attractive drivers on “Entourage,” she has also appeared in her first really big American movie as Jamie Bell’s girlfriend in the hit thriller, “Man On a Ledge.” The high profile production also gave her a scene with thespian living legend Ed Harris (see a photo from the film below, before question #4). Her next gig is “Hours,” an intense drama set during Hurricane Katrina and co-starring Paul Walker.

Clearly, Génesis Rodríguez is more than holding her own in the world of Yanqui entertainment. She certainly gave much better than she got when it was time for us to ask her five questions.

1. Who’s more intimidating, Ed Harris or Will Ferrell?

Ed Harris, because Will Ferrell’s a teddy bear. Will Ferrell’s the sweetest individual you could ever come across. Ed Harris is very method, so if he plays a villain, good God. You’re going to be scared. You’re going to be very scared.

2. You obviously did just fine in the movie, but since this was your first big, funny movie with some pretty major comedy talent, are we going to see your cracking up all over the “Casa de mi Padre” Blu-ray?

I really tried to keep it together. There were moments. I don’t take myself very seriously, as you can see; I’m kind of a goofball. I kind of get nervous when people are extremely intense. So I tend to crack. I just start laughing for no reason. If someone has an accidental fall or something, and they’re hurt, I can’t help it. It just happens out of nervousness. So, I really had to learn how to keep it together. I didn’t want to be that jerk that Will hired that’s a newbie that can’t hang around the comedy people.

I had to say different, random things in my head, like, “This isn’t funny, Génesis, why don’t you just come on?” “He’s not funny.” “This is not funny, come on.” I would think about my grandmother and what I was going to eat later and just random things to keep my mind occupied — as well as thinking about my acting. It’s a very complicated thing to do!

3. Since this is for an online men’s magazine, I am forced to ask you about “Entourage.” What was the best thing and what was the worst thing about your stint there?

The best thing was just the people who do “Entourage.” They’re so very respectful. They’re a very nice group of guys to hang out with on set.

The worst thing about it is that I was hired to be a driver and I didn’t know how to drive. I had to drive the car and I didn’t know how to do that. They said, “Hey, Gen, this is a $500,000 car. Are you okay with this?”

And I said, “No, see, I don’t know how to drive.” So, they had to get a stunt [person] for my little part in “Entourage,” which I find to be very ridiculous.

4. And what’s the best and the worst thing about being a telenovela superstar?

Telenovelas have a stigma to them but it’s part of our culture. People don’t know how hard it is to be in a telenovela. It’s 18 hour workdays, Monday through Saturday, for eleven to [16] months straight. No breaks. We only had Sunday off. We really became vegetables by the end of it. It was extreme hard work.

The good thing about it was the audience that we got. We were on the air five days a week and we were in prime time. People were watching us when they were cooking, or putting the kids to bed, or eating dinner. You really became a part of their home. When people recognize me, they hug me, they kiss me, and they love you because you’re part of their family.

The same thing. When I see someone from a telenovela that I love, I kind of melt. I kind of melt because I adore them. You don’t even know the person but you feel like you love them. That’s the beauty of a soap opera; it’s a very special fan, a very special audience.

5. Speaking of your telenovela work, Will Ferrell has publicly marveled at your ability to cry on cue. What’s the secret?

This is something you learn doing a soap opera. It’s something that you automatically know that you just have to do. People get scared when they hear that, especially men. They’re like, “Ohhh — this one; she knows how to cry on command. This is kind of scary.” But you kind of can tell when I’m faking it.

You can tell because when I really cry, my face just completely distorts and morphs into another ugly, ugly face. My chin starts trembling and that’s when it really hurts to cry. The tears thing — it’s just technique. It’s just like anything else, for me. Which is a gift, I know. I know, it’s a gift. Do you want me to do it right now?

[We were initially startled, but of course we did!]

You don’t have a camera, but you’ll see.

[At this point, Ms. Rodríguez took a gulp of water. An intense, but not particularly disturbed, look crossed her face as she began the tearing up process. Her voice got noticeably more quiet, but she continued talking.]

It’s coming…You get glassy. You just start getting watery. I’m not thinking about absolutely anything. It’s coming. You see it? You can’t see it yet? It’s going to happen.

[And sure enough, the waterworks flow. Very impressive.]

It’s nothing. I could talk about cupcakes and dogs. I can talk about happy things and rainbows.

  

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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to January

I’ve joked in the past about January being a dumping ground for all the misfit movies that the studios deemed unworthy of a more attractive release date, but the truth of the matter is that there are 12 months in a year, and you can’t expect every month to be overflowing with quality programming. With that said, however, this year’s pickings don’t look as bad as usual, with a surprising amount of action films led by big-name stars, some of which have real sleeper hit potential. The general lack of confidence by the studios suggests otherwise, but when expectations are this low, anything is possible.

“CONTRABAND”

Who: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas and Ben Foster
What: To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills.
When: January 13th
Why: It’s pretty funny that a movie about counterfeiting should turn out to be an imitation itself (the Icelandic film on which its based featured the U.S. version’s director, Baltasar Kormákur, in the lead role), but despite the fact that its clichéd plot seems to have been ripped off from a number of generic action thrillers just like it, “Contraband” has one thing that a lot of those films didn’t – a killer ensemble cast. Mark Wahlberg has had his share of duds over the years, but he’s always entertaining to watch, and guys like Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster and J.K. Simmons are some of the best character actors in the game. It’s probably not something you should rush out to see on opening weekend, but “Contraband” at least looks like it’ll be a fun way to kick off the 2012 movie season.

“UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING”

Who: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, Stephen Rea and Kris Holden-Ried
What: When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, Selene leads the battle to protect both of their species.
When: January 20th
Why: For as entertaining as the first “Underworld” movie was, I’ve never understood how the series has managed to stick around for as long as it has. The second film was really bad and the third one was even worse, but for some reason, Screen Gems is intent on milking the vampire/werewolf franchise for as long as they can. And until people stop blindly handing the studio their money, they’ll keep making them. The only reason anyone should even consider seeing this fourth installment is for the leather-clad return of Kate Beckinsale as vampire heroine Selene, because the rest of the film reeks of desperation. Why else would they be releasing it in (undoubtedly subpar) 3D?

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