Inside Hollywood there is an array of young actors that dare to be different, try to find their niche, and master their craft. You can definitely put 25-year-old Rick Gonzalez into that category. A native of New York, Bushwick to be exact, Rick definitely does his thing on the silver screen. From playing Timo Cruz, a high school basketball player in the film Coach Carter, to the hyper motorcycle guy Primo in Biker Boyz, Rick always seems to take his characters to the next level.
Following his performance in Coach Carter which debuted in January, he is set to star in two highly anticipated movies this year. Rick will play alongside teenage heart-throb Bob Wow in the movie Roll Bounce, which is set in Chicago during the 70s. Youll also be able to catch him alongside superstar Tom Cruise in the 2005 adaptation of War Of The Worlds.
Rarely do we get to see films that have Latino characters that get to shine, so Rick, who is Puerto Rican and Dominican, plans to put his work in and show us that there is so much more to come. Rick took some time out to talk to Allhiphop.com Alternatives about his work, a few personal things, and the finer aspects of his very recognizable hair.
Allhiphop.com Alternatives: Tell me about your family life - who inspired you to want to get into acting?
Rick: Nobody really inspired me to get into acting. It was just something that I always wanted to do since I was younger. I always asked my Mom to try and find places where I could act. She was very supportive in the beginning in making phone calls and making sure whatever school I attended had an acting program.
AHHA: Whats it like being a Latino actor in Hollywood?
Rick: Honestly, Im getting a lot of love from the African-American community, and the Latino community is definitely starting to take notice and show love too. Im very proud of who I am and what I represent. Its a good feeling to see people respond to the work that I do because I take it very seriously. To be Latino and doing what I do it feels good because its like Im a pioneer. People approach me and tell me that Im one of the few doing it for my people right now. I say to myself I want to be a star and do things on a big level, but at the same time Im just humbling myself to do good work.
AHHA: Do you think that youve been turned down for any roles because you didnt fit a certain mold?
Rick: Yes, of course. That comes along with being an actor. Its all about looks in this business. If it were based purely on just talent there would be a lot of roles you wouldnt see people do. But I have been given a lot of roles because of my look, its a two-way street. You have to take the good with the bad and make the best out of the situation.
AHHA: I saw one of your first movies, Mambo Café a few years back. How do you think youve grown as an actor since then?
Rick: Ive grown a lot because I was kind of naïve then, I really didnt know my position as an actor then. I had to find myself and figure out what I had to offer and what I could bring different to the game.
AHHA: What do you consider to be your most challenging role thus far?
Rick: Theyve all been challenging to me. I try to make them all different in a way where people get a different vibe from each character. Certain roles require more of you emotionally than others. When I did Coach Carter that was a lot of work because emotionally I had to tap into things that I didnt even know where there. If I have to say one role though, it would be playing the character Timo Cruz in Coach Carter.
AHHA: You have two new projects coming up, War Of The Worlds and Roll Bounce
Rick: Yes I do, and I also finished an independent film featuring Guy Peters that will hopefully appear at Toronto Film Festival. In the role I get to change my look, my style, and show my range.
AHHA: Whats the name of the movie called?
Rick: Its called First Snow.
AHHA: Whats your character like in First Snow?
Rick: I play a guy who has a wife, a kid, and a job he wants to maintain but ends up getting fired by Guy Pierces character. Its a different look for Rick Gonzalez and how people see me as this young thug kid or young comedic kid; you get to see a more mature side. Its the total opposite of doing a movie like Roll Bounce where I play a 14-year-old.
AHHA: What was it like transforming yourself to be a 14-year-old?
Rick: It was real challenging for me because I didnt know how to skate, and the movie takes place in Chicago in 1978. I had to get rid of the New York accent and the Hip-Hop attitude; I really had to strip myself down. The skating and the music helped create a vibe though. It also helped us think what it was like to actually live in 1978 and be a kid from that era. I know Bow Wow really concentrated on that and all the young actors in the film wanted to make sure we made an impression on all the grown folks from the 70s. I never skated before the movie, so of course I was a horrible skater!
AHHA: Youd never skated before?
Rick: You know Im from Bushwick.
AHHA: Yeah, I was wondering about that. Im from Chicago and skating is pretty familiar here. How popular is skating in New York?
Rick: Well we have Empire which is in Flatbush, but thats a certain underground core of people. And from what I remember guys wouldnt even go there to skate, they went there to pick up girls. Nobody skates in New York.
AHHA: I guess its more of a Chicago thing.
Rick: Yeah, I notice that people in the Midwest are sick wit it. On the set I saw people skating with only two wheels.
AHHA: How many times did you fall before you got the hang of it?
Rick: Man, I dont have enough fingers to count all that.
AHHA: When you did Biker Boyz, what was that like? Do you ride a motorcycle?
Rick: I had to learn. I really rode the bike, but obviously I didnt do the stunts. That takes years of practice which we couldnt achieve in just a month. Shout out to the Ruff Ryders because they took care of us in that department.
AHHA: When you did Coach Carter, Ashanti was one of the main characters. How do you feel about singers and rappers that get into acting? Do you feel that they take roles away from actors that have more experience like yourself?
Rick: I dont have a problem with it because Ive enjoyed roles that artists like Tupac and Mos Def did. Pac was a good actor, Mos is a good actor. I have respect for it, it doesnt bother me. What bothers me is when people who dont have the integrity for it and dont bring it to the same level as they do their music. It almost becomes a waste of time. When they do a good job though, you cant knock someone for doing good work.
AHHA: Whats the circle of people like that you kick it with? Do you have Hollywood friends or just people you grew up with?
Rick: I dont really hang out with too many Hollywood people. I hang out with family and friends and people that were always close to me. You see a lot of people on TV who make Hollywood friends, but I aint on that.
AHHA: So are you single?
Rick: Nah, I got a girl.
AHHA: Is it hard to maintain a relationship on such a busy schedule?
Rick: I take her with me wherever I go. We just roll.
AHHA: What kind of music are you listening to?
Rick: I listen to strictly Hip-Hop. Im excited about Commons new joint and Im really loving what Kanye did for him. I was really hoping that NO I.D. was going to do something on his CD, but I see that didnt pop off.
AHHA: I love your hair. How long have you been rocking the Afro?
Rick: For a minute. Im glad you asked that. Ive had my hair like this for a while, way before a lot of people starting wearing the style. Id like to think of myself as a trendsetter.
AHHA: What do you do to maintain it?
Rick: Nothing. I just get up and put on a headband and keep it moving. The reason I did it was because in between getting my hair braded I would want my hair off my face so I would put a head band on. After a while I started liking it and would go to auditions with it and people told me they liked my hair.
AHHA: Whats in the future for you? You have any other plans outside of acting?
Rick: Nah, I just want to master my craft and make sure Im doing it to the best of my ability. Everybody should look out for U-Krime and Bushwick because were here and gonna make it pop.