“Bounty Hunters” is a new comedy series that follows book-smart Brit Barnaby (Jack Whitehall) who gets a worldly wake-up call when a deal goes bad and NYC tough girl Nina (Rosie Perez), rocks up to help with trouble not far behind. G-Rod plays a series regular character “Cousin Pancho”, who is Rita’s cousin.
In addition, G-Rod can next be seen in the scripted anthology series “Tales” on BET, which is a series of song stories that weave classic and current hip-hop songs into visually stunning narratives. G-Rod will play lead character Detective Emilio Sanchez on an episode titled “All I Need”, based on Method Man and Mary J. Blige’s classic song. The episode served as the season finale.
G-Rod also guest starred on the CBS series “NCIS: New Orleans” as character Mateo Hyder on November 14, 2017.
How did you get the nickname G-Rod?
A couple dudes at the gym, back in the Bally’s days, gave it to me and it stuck around. I’m cool with it because it’s pretty easy to remember but somehow the baristas at Starbucks still manage to mess it up and call out “G-Rod”.
How did you get started in entertainment?
After growing into this tough looking mug, random people that I would interact with on the day-to-day would ask me if I was a boxer, MMA fighter, cop or firefighter. I say I grew into it because if you were to look at any of my younger pictures, even in my 20’s, I don’t look that mean or tough. I would even go as far as saying I look harmless. I started working out harder and somehow that changed my whole physical appearance. So I thought to myself, what line of work can I be all those things and make money? Acting! I can go from being a boxer to a cop to a criminal all in the same week and get paid for it.
Tell us the story about your audition for ‘Bounty Hunters’. How did the role come about?
I remember getting the email to put myself on tape for the role of Pancho who was described as this fat socially awkward lovable idiot that likes to eat waffles and thinking my agent had to send this to me by mistake or they didn’t look at the breakdown too closely –which does happen! I shot her an email and she’s like, yep we know it’s not your typical role but we presented you and they are interested. At first, I was a bit nervous because this was new territory for me as an actor but then I reminded myself I’m more like Pancho than the other deadly dudes I read for. One of the scenes called for Pancho to be listening to Al Green, bopping his head down the street, and dancing while eating a greasy hotdog. I know most dudes just dropped a blue screen behind them and recorded themselves kind of dancing with no music but well I killed it! I hired a camera guy, went to a hotel and played out the scene in the middle of the hotel lobby as guests were looking at me like I was some crazy dude…hahaha. It was hilarious! When I look back on it, I knew right there and then I’m going to London.
What was your favorite part of filming ‘Bounty Hunters’?
The whole experience was great but working with Jack Whitehall was definitely one of my highlights. He is so damn funny! He has this awkwardness about him that is hilarious. There were times when I actually had to hold my laughter back on-camera. Of course, experiencing the U.K. for the first time was also a blast. Except for the part when I decided to fly to Amsterdam one weekend and then was denied entry back into the U.K. They told me they would have to ship me back to the U.S. to get my visa resolved and I still had a few weeks of filming. I had to call production to get it worked out and man was that embarrassing. I’ll tell you, there were times in the past when I thought I was going to be deported before I got my green card. It was conceivable but in the U.S…hahaha..no, true story.
For BET’s ‘Tales’, who do you play and why is each episode special?
Tales is like Black Mirror in the sense that each episode is a self-contained plot and cast. Everything gets resolved in that one episode. The storyline to every episode is based on a different Hip-Hop song and the one I’m starring in is titled “All I Need”, which is tracked by Method Man and Mary J. Blige. I finally get to play a cop which I’ve been wanting to do -knowing all along it would be a dirty cop. I play the role of Detective Sanchez who happens to be an a-hole, which I felt very comfortable doing even though I’m a really nice dude if you ask me. The concept alone is a great winning recipe. Irv Gotti came up with gold here and it can transcend into different genres around the world. I’m hoping he decides to do a Latino version and I will be knocking down his for a part…hahaha.
What was your favorite thing about filming in New Orleans while shooting NCIS: New Orleans?
I had a great time filming NCIS. I had the chance to work with James Whitmore Jr. who has one hell of a resume and I had the great pleasure of working with Scott Bakula. That was special to me because my dad and I watched Quantum Leap for years when I was growing up. I’m a big fan of his work and when I met him, I remember thinking, man I hope he’s a nice dude and he was! It was great working with him. My favorite part of filming NCIS was them allowing me to perform my own stunts. Some stunt coordinators are funny about letting actors perform certain stunts but Jonathan Arthur was kind enough to let me get my hands dirty and throw down –you’ll see!
What actor or actress would you love to work with in the future?
I would love to work with The Rock. I mean like get into some serious stuff like bodies going through windows, heads going through walls and at least one broken bone. No joke. I have to get him before his AARP card arrives though because he’s inching up there…hahahaha. I worked on Ballers opposite Rob Corddry. My character sold him some drugs and I remember meeting Julian Farino, the director, before my scene and seeing The Rock in the next room thinking…”hey man I got my sides and it’s cool and everything but can we somehow work in a throwdown between you and I? What do you say?” Hahaha –of course, I didn’t do it. No seriously, I really want to do an action scene and throw down with the Rock. If you see him, let him know!
Do you have a favorite saying or motto? If so, what is it? Why is it your favorite? How does it encourage you in trying times?
Listen, the way I see it…you have to make sure you’re doing something every day to move closer to your master goals and level of fulfillment. As of right now, I got another 20-25 active years ahead of me before the time comes to really start slowing down. That’s not a lot of time! I’m going to crush obstacles, accept defeat as something that gets me closer to success and continue to push myself outside of my comfort zone in my pursuit of ultimate achievement. Not exactly a motto but more of a philosophy.
Which role has been your favorite to play so far in your career?
Detective Sanchez on Tales was an amazing ride. I went in, not on a Jared Leto level where I’m sending dead pigs to people on-set, but I was that a-hole cop until the last day of filming. I remember some family members couldn’t stand me; I would explain to them the way I work mentally but they wouldn’t listen and tell me to simply stop being mean. Yeah, some people I just avoided altogether until I was done. My kids though for some reason, always seem to break me.
How do you train for the stunt work?
It all depends on the stunt gag but most of the time you don’t really know what the gag will be until you’re on set and they tell you “oh by the way, we’re going to have that dude throw you through a window…you good?”, and your response has to always be “yes, let’s do it”. And, when you are done…you give a thumbs up and say “I’m ready to go again”. True story! So what I try to do is put myself through most of the situations that might come up as a gag. My background is fighting, so I’m pretty much have practiced every scenario that might involve a fight. I’ve also been run over by a car, shot at and thrown…listen I’m sure the time will come when I will say “yeah I can’t do that” but until then, I’ll keep going.
Gabriel Rafael Rodriguez aka G-Rod additional acting credits include: “True Memoirs of an International Assassin”, “Orange Is The New Black”, “Gotham”, “24: Legacy”, “MacGyver”, “The Walking Dead”, “Ballers”, “The Red Road”, “Constantine”, “Graceland”,Starz series “Power” and “Burn Notice”.