Telenovela star Génesis Rodriguez cut her teeth on shows like "Prisionera" and "Doña Bárbara" and went on to parts in "Man on a Ledge" and upcoming films "What to Expect When You're Expecting," "Last Stand" and "Hours." The daughter of the Venezuelan actor and singer José Luis Rodríguez, aka El Puma, Rodriguez is now poised to pounce on stardom in the City of Angels.
Rodriguez stars alongside Will Ferrell, Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal in the Spanish-language comedy "Casa de mi Padre," a telenovela spoof about a simple rancher (Ferrell), his troubled brother (Luna) and a mysterious drug lord known as Onza (Bernal). The bride-to-be must contend with some crazy family dynamics, a budding drug war and her own troubled past.
Rodriguez met up with us in New York City to discuss robots, her love of the NBA, and learning the ways of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And Will Ferrell's butt, because she's a good sport.
What did you take from your work in telenovelas that you brought to "Casa de mi Padre"?
The transition for me was pretty great, because it was kind of giving an homage to everything I once did. It's a beautiful thing to have had this career and I really enjoyed learning and growing as an actor doing telenovelas. The kind of things that served in my advantage was I can cry on the spot. I really know how to do dramatic pauses. I just really know how to be dead serious with ridiculous dialogue. It's kind of what I know how to do best.
You kept a really straight face with all of these crazy scenes. Did you have to give the other actors any tips on how to give a more telenovela-esque vibe?
You would think -- but these guys, they had like these exaggerated, over-the-top characters. I needed to be the one to keep it more real and serious, so they didn't really need much help from me. I kind of had to be the straight guy, and I'm okay with that. They can have the laughs. That's fine. I don't need 'em. I don't need to be funny. [laughs]
Also Check Out: Watch the 'Casa de mi Padre' Trailer
It must have been interesting to work with someone who had, what, a second grade-level grasp of Spanish?
That's good enough! That gets you a long way. Absolutely. It gets you a long way. I mean, you can communicate what you need. "Yo quiero la muchacha." You remember that? "I want the girl." That's it.
Who's your acting inspiration? Now that you're moving into all kinds of different roles, who do you look toward as your idol?
I don't have an idol per se. I admire Stella Adler very much, and I work with Marjorie Ballentine, who [worked with] Stella for some time, so the more colors, the better. I just like the fact that I'm allowed to be myself. Latinos are very passionate, and they perform a lot, and look at me, I'm talking with my hands, and this is just my normal self, so it kind of allows me to be who I am and not dumb it down. That's the way that I want to come out here. I kinda like that. Audrey Hepburn -- she knew how to perform! Lots of colors, that one. She performed, you know?
People need to have some more blood these days.
Right?! Some fire, some passion, some groin.
What would you do if you weren't acting? If you could do anything.
If I could do anything, I'd be an engineer of some sort. I used to build robots. I was really great at physics, and really good at taking apart things, putting them back together, figuring out the pneumatics, how things work -- [it] really is fascinating to have an idea in your mind and execute it in a material format … So I have two passions in life. I'm a very nerdy person like that, and then I'm kind of a sports freak.
If this acting thing doesn't work, I'd just put in my resume for NBA.com. I'm a really huge basketball fan … I'll talk all sorts of trash. That's it. I have no game whatsoever, but I'm really good at trash-talking … I live and die for the [Miami] Heat. I bleed the Heat.
What was the first thing you bought with your first Hollywood paycheck?
I hope it wasn't something to do with shoes, because that would be just depressing. I have a weakness, and I just can't walk by a shoe store and not look and not be tempted. It's sickening. It's a sickening disease. You know why? They're so reliable. Feet never change size. They don't squeeze into things, either. They fit or they don't. They're never gonna change on you. They're stable things in life. I like to invest in stable things.
Who is your dream love interest on-screen? Seeing Diego and Gael back on-screen together again --
They're foxy, foxy guys.
In "Y tu Mamá También," I was like, "Now, kiss!" Yeah, so who is your dream love interest, living or dead, on-screen?
It really is a personality thing for me. They could be so good-looking, but if they're just a little bit into themselves, forget about it. I don't even -- nothing.
Is everyone asking you about the Will Ferrell butt scene [a love scene in which there is a lot of butt-groping by the fire]?
Yeah, you wanna talk about it?
If you're not tired of it.
No, no, no. We can talk about it.
Will Ferrell seems to show his butt in everything. Which I don't mind -- I think he's hilarious.
He's so awesome, right? I mean, he's made such incredible characters …
So, you knew -- you were like, "Okay, I know what I'm getting into. He's gonna be wacky and crack me up and show his butt" ...
Definitely. Definitely. Though he was such a gentleman. Any other actor in his place would just have grabbed everything and not asked permission. For sure. They go for it! Oh, you know, they're acting. Quote unquote. They're just grabbing things they're not allowed to, but there's rolling action, they go for it!
Oh my goodness!
But he would ask permission. He was like, "I'm going to put my hand on your shoulder …"
Wait, so that wasn't a body double?
No, there was a body double for the butt, you know? Because I didn't want to be the girl who showed her butt in her first movie, but then in my second movie, I had an underwear scene, so that totally defeated my purpose. [sighs dramatically]
So, what is your role in "What to Expect When You're Expecting"? Are you expecting or expecting to expect or …?
No, I’m supporting … It's a small cameo. I just really wanted to be a part of that movie because everyone's doing it now. Everyone is in an ensemble romantic thing, and I thought it was really cute and light, and it's kind of cool that you could be a leading lady in one and a cameo in another, and that's the kind of career I want to have. I just want to surprise people, and I want to entertain. I don't take myself too seriously, as you can see, and I like to do all kinds of movies. I like to do action. Of course, I want the thought-provoking, challenging roles, but I also want to just entertain people.
Arnold Schwarzenegger or Will Ferrell?
You know, here's the thing. Will Ferrell is always my funnyman, but Arnold is surprisingly funny. You don't expect him to be funny. You would never expect -- you would think he's so serious and so reserved, but he's actually a jokester, and everything is funnier in an Austrian accent, too, when he says it. It's kind of great. It's kind of great that he has a great sense of humor. But Will will always be my comedy love.
I'm sure working with someone like Schwarzenegger is pretty tripped out.
It's kind of cool, huh? He's the Terminator.
And he was the governor! He was the Governator!
Here's the thing about Arnold. He was Mr. Universe. He was the Terminator and the governor. He clearly knows things that we don't, clearly knows how to make it in everything he wants to, so we have to learn the ways of Arnold.