Actor Adam Rodriguez has experienced little downtime since “CSI: Miami” ended its 10-year run, on which he played the high-profile Erik Delco.
The native New Yorker recently starred in the much talked about film “Magic Mike” and recently wrapped filming the indie movie “Lovesick” opposite Matt LeBlanc and “About Last Night,” a film scheduled for release next year.
After a rambling half-hour conversation on everything from economics to politics to music, Charleston Scene spoke with Rodriguez about his prominent role in CBS’s upcoming (and somewhat controversial) TV show “Reckless,” which is currently shooting in Charleston, and his time in the Holy City.
Q: What did you want to be growing up?
A: As many other boys, I wanted to be a baseball player. I probably had a shot at it as I had some college scholarship offers, but I broke a bone in my back and didn’t have the discipline to make a comeback, so it fell by the wayside.
Q: What led you to acting?
A: After my injury, I started acting classes and liked it. I was sending out mass mailings of head shots to casting directors but I also had to support myself financially. I had been very good at mock stock contests in school, so rather than waiting tables I was training to be a stockbroker while taking acting classes at night.
Q: What was the deciding factor between the two?
A: We had a motivational speaker in the office. I looked around and no one was happy! It was one of those epiphany moments, and I knew right then that wasn’t the life path for me and I quickly focused on acting.
Q: What was your mind-set before “CSI: Miami” came along?
A: I had to continually hustle. At that age (18 to 22), some structure was paramount. I was having a great time doing this and being on the set whether it was TV, movies or music videos. My thought was to treat this as schooling: Observe who did what well and who didn’t and learn from this.
Q: Your first significant role came on “Brooklyn South.” How was that experience?
A: There were 200 people competing for the job. I got the part and the show had a guaranteed pickup for a whole season. Unfortunately, it was canceled after that. The other actors were nurturing and experienced. I still keep up with them.
Q: What did you learn and what effect did it have on you?
A: Many things. Timing means a lot as it was a good show and it pushed boundaries but was ahead of its time. For me personally, it was validation that I was on the right track and it gave me confidence in myself. It was also an invaluable lesson, as I didn’t think it would be canceled after one season. Fortunately, I saved most of the money I had earned, as I didn’t work after that for a whole year. I also learned I would never be bored doing this.
Q: Were you scared at all during this drought?
A: I had no doubts at all. (It was) just the ups-and-downs of the business.
Q: “CSI: Miami” was obviously your big breakthrough. How did this come about?
A: My father was in New York homicide and was hired as a technical adviser on “NYPD Blue.” While watching the Emmy Awards in 1996, I saw the executive producer from “NYPD Blue,” and with a phone call my foot was in the door for a new show he was involved with. The competition was very heavy and it came down to three finalists. I was offered another show on NBC, which actually bombed, but that timing seemed to push them to make a decision to hire me for the “CSI: Miami” part.
Q: After seven seasons, you left. What is the behind-the-scenes story?
A: There was a contract issue; compensation. They very abruptly cut me loose, which I did not expect. I was involved in the prior-season’s cliffhanger. Given the longevity of my character, I asked them to bring me back and make the plot right and not have it end without explanation, which could have alienated viewers. They agreed to bring me back for three episodes and an option for seven more.
Q: But then you came back after that.
A: Yes. In the meantime, I wanted to do comedy and booked a part in “Ugly Betty.” The “CSI: Miami” audience didn’t respond favorably to my Delko character not being there. The ratings dropped and I was asked to come back.
Q: On the same terms?
A: Well, I was able to leverage this into writing and directing as a further incentive. I really enjoyed this aspect and look forward to doing in the future.
Q: Then you were in the movie “Magic Mike.”
A: That ... was an experience. The scariest and most challenging thing I have ever done. I did a lot of weight training and took dance lessons; I had to! There was a lot of pressure given the other actors I was working with and director Steven Soderbergh.
Q: Sounds like a lot of fun and a lot of pressure.
A: Yes! It’s amazing how a Speedo will strip you of inhibitions! It says a lot about Channing (Tatum) and Steven (Soderbergh) to lead the casting and picking the personalities. It was a group with no drama, no divas. And we’re looking to do a sequel soon.
Q: Do you prefer television or movies?
A: I love to do both mediums. However, it has to be a great story.
Q: Have you turned down a good or bad part?
A: Well, let me say I haven’t turned down a part that turned into something good ... yet. I’m sure it will happen.
Q: Which brings us to “Reckless.” Please describe the show.
A: The show breaks new ground for CBS. I see it as bad behavior by good people, scandal and deceit; all that you loved in “Dallas” and “Law & Order” with more drama, rolled-up with the cop/lawyer element, and really sexy.
Q: How would you compare or contrast “Reckless” to “CSI: Miami”?
A: “CSI: Miami” had so much more structure to it: a murder, clues, twists and a solving of the mystery at the end of each show. “Reckless” is more serialized and there is no “who done it” moment at the end each episode. It will matter to watch it in sequence.
Q: How is this different for CBS, also known as “the Tiffany Network”?
A: The show will push the envelope. It is CBS’s first MA (Mature Audience) rating. We’re looking to do more than what is done on network television. The competition is now not just the other network shows but also programs on cable and Netflix. It has to push the envelope to be relevant. The network ordered 13 episodes, so there is a very good probability for a second season.
Q: Given this, the show has raised eyebrows at City Hall here, particularly with how the Charleston Police Department is depicted.
A: It should really be a non-issue. It’s just the backdrop for purposes of drama. It’s fictional and there’s no personal vendetta. We’re not trying to paint anything as fact in real life.
Q: Please describe your character.
A: I’m a homicide detective who appears to be involved in a sex scandal. I came down from New York City for reasons unknown and by the request of the chief of police. I know the ins-and-outs. I have a girlfriend relationship that is somewhat of a love triangle that raises the tension element.
Q: How has your time off the set been in Charleston?
A: It couldn’t be nicer. The people are so friendly and proud to live here. There is a take on this in the pilot. I had heard nothing but great things about the city, and it’s nice to see that it is true.
Q: What about the culture?
A: There is a great sense of culture here. It is a hip place, a city on the upswing. I can see in five years it is going to blossom even more. I hope it doesn’t expand out of control, though. It’s exciting to be here.
Q: Have you been to any of the beaches?
A: For some unknown reason, I have not made it to a beach yet, but I will.
Q: Charleston is well known for its cuisine scene. Have you had the chance to experience it?
A: Some, but not enough! I loved Husk. It’s important to me to have locally grown options. I also want to go to FIG and Halls (Chophouse), among many others.
Adam Rodriguez as Tito in “Magic Mike.”×
Adam Rodriguez (from left), Kevin Nash, Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello in a scene from “Magic Mike.”×
Production crews set up at The Battery while they film scenes for the new CBS pilot “Reckless.”×
Production crews set up at East Battery to film scenes for the new CBS pilot “Reckless.”×
Cam Gigandet walks across East Battery recently while filming the new CBS pilot “Reckless.”×
Production crews set up at the East Battery and asked drivers to participate while they filmed scenes for the new CBS pilot “Reckless.”×