Freddy Rodriguez Biography


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Birth Name: Freddy Rodriguez
Born: 01/17/1975
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA


Freddy Rodriguez was born on Jan. 17, 1975 in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago, IL. At the age of five, Rodriguez's father, a janitor, moved the family to a new home in the Little Puerto Rico section of Chicago's multiracial Bucktown community, where future rappers Common and Kanye West numbered among his childhood friends. As an escape from a climate plagued by criminality and gang activity, the preteen Rodriguez developed an interest in acting. His participation in a drama program for inner city children won him a spot with the Whirlwind Performance Company, an experimental program for at-risk youths. This exposure led to a scholarship to the Pulaski International School of Chicago, which Rodriguez attended through eighth grade. He appeared in several student productions at the arts-centered Lincoln Park High School while also honing his skills as a dancer and hip-hop choreographer.

Rodriguez made his feature film debut in Peter Pistor's indie film "The Fence" (1994). Filmed in Chicago and nearby city Joliet, the film featured the fledgling actor in early scenes as a 13-year-old sentenced to prison for killing his abusive father. Following his 1994 high school graduation, Rodriguez headed to Los Angeles to try his luck as a working actor and found gainful employment with uncommon speed. In Alfonso Arau's gauzy period romance "A Walk in the Clouds" (1995), he played the namesake son of screen legend Anthony Quinn and was a maimed Vietnam veteran using his knowledge of demolitions to help his buddies rob an armored car in the Hughes Brothers' crime drama "Dead Presidents" (1995). In the two-part NBC telefilm "Seduced by Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story" (1996), Rodriguez was one of a trio of teenagers who agree to kill the husband of Wisconsin teacher's aide Ann-Margret. Wary of trapping himself in the career ghetto of playing ethnic punks, Rodriguez found himself turning down more jobs than he was accepting. His career gamble paid off in a string of unorthodox projects. If Paul Miller's "The Pest" (1997), in which Rodriguez played the buddy of star John Leguizamo, was buried under the metric tonnage of horrific reviews, his name rarely came up in the conversation. In Philippe Mora's faith-based morality tale "Joseph's Gift" (1998), the actor appeared as a modern day version of the Biblical character, etched as an heir to a Los Angeles garment business who is betrayed by his brothers and made a literal sweat shop slave. He was a passing punk in the Mel Gibson vehicle "Payback" (1999) but balanced the indignity with small screen appearances on the popular Fox drama "Party of Five" (1994-2000) and in the Emmy Award-winning HBO biopic "For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story" (2000) starring Andy Garcia.

The role that put Rodriguez on the industry map came with his casting on the groundbreaking HBO miniseries "Six Feet Under" (2001-05). Initially a mere supporting player in the larger drama of a dysfunctional Los Angeles family that owns an independent funeral home, Rodriguez's Puerto Rican restorative artist Rico Diaz grew in depth and nuance throughout the critically-acclaimed series' five seasons. Never condescending to making the character a role model for Hispanic viewers, the series' writers etched him instead as a flawed but industrious character worthy of parity with his Anglo employers - which Rico received in the final season. During the run of the series, Rodriguez also appeared in three episodes of the medical sitcom "Scrubs" (NBC/ABC, 2001-2010), delivering the majority of his dialogue in Spanish as the brother of series lead Judy Reyes, and played an East L.A. drug dealer who hooks up with bored rich girl Anne Hathaway in "Havoc" (2005), directed by documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple.

Wrapping up the final season of "Six Feet Under," Rodriguez appeared in a string of big-ticket Hollywood films and indie projects. He was Christian Bale's conscience-plagued buddy in David Ayer's "Harsh Times" (2005), a violent tale of criminality in South Central Los Angeles. He had less to do as a doomed crewman in a capsized luxury liner in Wolfgang Petersen's "Poseidon" (2006) but was appealing in Emilio Estevez's "Bobby" (2006) as an Ambassador Hotel busboy who witnesses the 1968 assassination of presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy. Reduced to sight gag status in M. Night Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water" (2006), the actor was nonetheless memorably amusing as a weightlifter who only exercises half of his body. In "Planet Terror" (2007), Robert Rodriguez's contribution to the retro omnibus "Grindhouse," Rodriguez enjoyed a rare heroic assignment, playing leading man to top-billed Rose McGowan.

Rodriguez won another principal role as a charming Napa Valley vintner in Randall Miller's wine country comedy "Bottle Shock" (2008), co-starring Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman, and returned to his native Chicago to play a returning U.S. soldier adjusting to civilian life in Alfredo de Villa's Christmas tale "Nothing Like the Holidays" (2008), which the actor also executive produced. Back on the small screen, he buzzed his head to play the boyfriend of America Ferrara in a dozen episodes of "Ugly Betty" (2007-2010), ABC's reworking of the Colombian telenovia "Yo soy Betty, la fea" (RCN-TV, 1999-2001). Rodriguez was the first actor cast for the 20th Century Fox series "Chaos" (CBS, 2011), an espionage satire in which he played a CIA mole. The series premiered in April 2011 as a midseason replacement, but the network put "Chaos" on hiatus after only three episodes had been aired, allowing the remaining episodes to run their course later that year, and Rodriguez to return to the market as an endlessly appealing and eminently useful actor for-hire.

By Richard Harland Smith




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