Makes Her Stand In Run All Night
by Brad Balfour
Actress Génesis Rodríguez Pérez shares a determination to survive and succeed with Gabriela Conlon, the character she plays in Run All Night. That action thriller stars 62-year-old Liam Neeson as estranged dad and former Irish Mafia hit man Jimmy Conlon. When his son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) — husband to Gabriela and father to Catelyn and Lily — witnesses the son of boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) executing two Albanian drug dealers he becomes a target of Danny (Boyd Holbrook) until the elder Conlon kills him. Once that’s done Jimmy becomes an avenging angel defending his son and family while avoiding cops and a hired assassin (Common) through the night.
Born in July, 1987, in Miami, Florida, Génesis Rodríguez Pérez — daughter of famous Venezuelan singer and actor “El Puma” (José Luis Rodríguez) and Cuban model Carolina Perez — embarked on acting since she started at Miami’s Carrolton School of the Sacred Heart when 2½ years old. That determination drove the young actor so she did school productions and, as a teenager, acting classes, dance and vocal studies.
When her parents saw this motivation, they enrolled her in more intensive training, attending summer classes in New York’s Lee Strasberg Theater and Film institute. Once she moved to Los Angeles, she studied with Marjorie Ballentine.
Upon her return to Miami, she continued private lessons, leading to work both in Spanish-language telenovelas such as 2004 ‘s Prisionera, Dame Chocolate the next year and Doña Bárbara in 2008. Then, the American daytime soap Days of Our Lives won her a recurring role — Becky Ferrer — from November 2005 through January 2006. She also was a repeat special guest on the Bravo TV’s Top Chef and appeared in three episodes of the hit show Entourage as Sarah.
The 5′ 7″ actress moved onto appearing in such films as 2012’s Man on a Ledge, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, The Last Stand and director Kevin Smith’s very weird Tusk, as well as Run All Night. In 2012, Rodríguez had a substantial role as Will Ferrell’s love interest in the comedy Casa de Mi Padre — a spoof on ’70s-style Mexican soap operas.
Her personal love life brought her attention as well. In 2004, the then teen Rodriguez was involved in an underage sex scandal with Prisionera co-star Mauricio Islas, who was then 30 years old and married. The case was settled out of court, allowing Islas to avoid jail time; Rodriguez was awarded millions in a payout from Telemundo.
In 2008, the brunette beauty met Peruvian actor Christian Meier while they did Doña Bárbara together. They dated for 15 months; when she was 22 and he, 38 years old. They broke up in 2010 but remain friends.
She also provided the voice of Honey Lemon in the futuristic Marvel/Disney animated feature Big Hero 6 — an award nominee which subsequently won the Oscar. With all this going for her, Rodriguez has been hitting the circuit as a representative of the new generation Latina.
The following Q&A was edited from a roundtable session held in The Ritz Carlton Hotel just before the film’s New York release.
You’ve gotten a lot of press as the quintessential new generation of Latina. Does that put too much of a burden on your shoulders or are you glad to been seen as an example?
I feel like I have a mission. I’ve had it since the moment I landed in LA. I’m trying to do something for the Latino population and to break stereotypes. Latino women were sometimes only objectified. Only put into movies for people to look at us. I want the Birdman roles. It’s just going to take me a very long time to get there. The only way that I have planned it out is that no movie that I have done is alike. They can’t say, “Oh that’s the girl that always does those cop roles” or “That’s the girl that’s always a lawyer.” They can’t and they won’t. At least if it’s in my control, it’s not going to go down that way.
Well, Run All Night is definitely not Tusk.
This is definitely not Tusk. This is definitely not Big Hero 6. It’s just another facet. I’m trying to creep in without realizing it.
Since you did the Oscar-winning animated film Big Hero 6, did you get to go to the Oscars since you voiced one of the main characters?
I did. I went to the Oscars, and won an Oscar.
Did you see your fellow Run All Night actor Common there?
I saw Common at the Critic’s Choice Awards. I said hi to him. I was so excited. He won the Golden Globe too, right? We didn’t win the Golden Globe.
Big Hero 6 was great.
It was so special. We were so surprised that we won. We totally thought How to Train Your Dragon 2 was going to get it because of the Globes. The Disney team really had fun that night. It was like a blur after a certain point.
It’s probably going to have a sequel at some point.
I hope. It’s number three in grossing of Disney animation, so I hope so. It’s going down in history. It did lead to that ending with the team getting back together and fighting some more stuff. I just love that cast. At the Oscars you saw that group, and it was the only multi-racial group in the Oscars. Half white, half Japanese, African American, Latino, Korean, and there was only one token white guy. It was perfect. Here we are making noise, and people are seeing us, and this is how it should be, this is how they should see us. This is a new generation and our multiculturalism represents the United States. So Disney did a really solid move in hiring that cast.
Big Hero 6’s animation is not done with motion capture, but somehow it really seems to have you in it.
Because they filmed us. All the expressions are ours. The characters are drawn, then they’re animated after our acting. So I saw all of my mannerisms in there. My hands, my walking, everything that was me was in there. It was shocking. That’s the character that’s the overly caffeinated energetic version of me.
Run All Night is certainly a highly caffeinated journey. Were you ever worried that in the script you’d find out something like your kids died?
[I had to ask,] “Why didn’t she go into labor?” The stress level was unreal and she was running, she was picking up kids and backpacks, and running. This baby is going to come out real stressed out.
You didn’t get to pick up a gun?
They didn’t give me a gun, but I was ready to pick up a gun.
Do you have that sense of danger from protecting yourself and all these people?
That was horrifying. It was protecting them first and make sure they don’t realize they are in danger. Keep face and try not to stress out. Stay calm, while freaking out inside. Did I get their coats? Run to the car, make sure their seat belts are on. A million things were running through my mind before I even said a line. Why wasn’t my first mom role like Family Ties, or something with a beautiful family? No, I had to get this super-stressful role.
Everyone was worried for Gabriela’s brother. It looked like he was going get it any minute!
I know, my poor brother! I got him into that mess.
Was it hard pretending to be pregnant?
The [fake] belly weighed down on me so much because it weighed 15 pounds; it took a toll. It was like a real pregnancy, it affected how I walked and ran and picked up things.
How was it shooting at the cabin with all that fog? Was it a machine?
It was a machine. There was one day we did have actual fog. On reshoots we had a fog machine, because we actually had too much fog. We shot this in the dead of winter and on reshoots we had to match that look. That’s when we were using that fog. But it was so beautiful in that cabin. I had never seen anything like that before, I had never been outside the city. It was upstate, it’s so beautiful. I had no idea you guys had that here. You’ve got to utilize that.
You grew up in the warm weather.
I was at the beach two days ago. I was doing some Miami press and when I landed I was like, “This ain’t right.”
Have you done much work with kids before? Those kids seemed to have had it down.
Jaume was really good. He would talk to them, know when to cover for them, give them a different take. They were just little actresses. One of them was so small, she was three at the time and turned four. They get tired. They get cranky. They don’t want to do 15 takes. They’re like “I already said it, I don’t want to say it again!” It was cute, but at the same time we were like “Come on, please say it again!” It’s always hard, they’re just kids, they just want to play around. Working at night they’re sleepy, they’re cranky, it’s not easy. So that was the struggle.
I thought the adults were hard.
There’s a lot of humanity in this movie, where she opens the door to the estranged father.
Family is family at the end of the day. We’re raised in that culture, Latinos especially. If you don’t like or get along with a family member but you’re in trouble, you better believe they’ll be there for you or you’ll be there for them. It’s an unspoken thing. That’s the way I was raised, and I’m glad that they got that into the movie. Blood is thicker than water. You don’t have to get along with your family members, that’s not the point. It’s about accepting them.
What was your favorite scene in the film?
I guess it was the [one] where Mike walks in and tells me I have to go get the girls. That was the toughest one. We did that about four o’clock in the morning to eight o’clock in the morning and I was exhausted. So what you saw that day was just pure exhaustion, and it was coming off my gut. I’d like to see that.
The bathtub scene where various gangsters are looking for all of you was pretty intense. Not to give anything away…
Well I shot it, so I know how it ends. I know what happens.
How did you keep the girls playing your daughters so quiet?
They were good about that.
You were very invested in these characters. What did you take away for yourself from this character? You’re not a mother, so what did you learn?
Gabriela was just the coolest wife even if she got pissed off. I would not have moved without an explanation. I would not have moved a muscle, some disastrous thing would happen and I’d get shot. It’s a hard thing to see your husband on the news all night and then say, “Hey, let’s call the cops,” and he’s not letting you call the cops and he’s telling you you need to run away. “No no no, I need to know because if I don’t know I can’t help.” So she was cool. She was pissed, but she was cool. At some point I’m sure she got an explanation. I would have loved to see that scene.
It’s a great action movie — the pace never lets up.
I know, everyone tells me the same thing. I’m so excited because first off, Jaume [Collet-Serra] is such a visual and actor’s director, so I’m so excited to see the shots. I’m dying to see the restaurant scene between me and Ed because when I read it I was like, “Oh man, that’s master class acting right there.” But all in all I did see some dailies and the dailies looked fabulous, and I’m going to see it tonight with everyone and it’s exciting.
What’s coming up that contrasts with this?
I play a pissed-off Canadian PE teacher in my next movie. In that one I hate kids. It’s called The Yoga Hosers and it’s from Kevin Smith. It’s the sequel to Tusk and I just [have] a cameo in that one. In the third movie we’re shooting soon, I reprise my role of Allison in Tusk. You see her now as an exotic animal specialist — this character is like Richard Dreyfus in Jaws. So you know there’s going to be lots of monologues and lots of weirdness in that one too. I have Home coming out next year with Topher Grace, Callan Mulvey, and Patty Clarkson. It’s a psychological thriller about this guy that’s released in a psyche ward and everything that goes down in three days — you don’t know if he’s imagining it or not.
You did the Comic Cons for Big Hero 6; did you also go with Kevin?
I did. That was like I was with a Beatle. People were just screaming, I was like oh my gosh, this is serious. I’m in nerd central with the god of the nerds, this is not normal. I wouldn’t want to do San Diego Comic Con without him. We were in the big hall, Hall H, he had everyone’s attention for three hours. He is something else to watch, he’s hypnotizing.
He was also quite a presence at New York Comic Con 2014.
I loved New York Comic Con. I hope to come back to that one because it’s less chaotic. Lot more organized.
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Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 13, 2015.
Photos 1 ©2015 Brad Balfour. All rights reserved.
Photos 2-6 ©2015. Courtesy of Warner Brothers. All rights reserved.