Philip Anthony-Rodriguez [Interview]

Today’s interviewee is another amazingly talented on screen and voice over actor working today. Philip Anthony-Rodriguez has had regular on screen appearances on TV shows like Grimm, The Secret Life of an American Teenager, 24, and so many more! And in the world of video games, Philip is a voice you will all surely know and love in projects like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Halo: Reach, and so many more.

But as many of our regular readers will know…if we are have an acclaimed voice over artists featured on the site, there is a 110% chance, they were also a part of a dearly beloved video game series here at Trainwreck’d Society. And you all would be absolutely correct. Mr. Rodriguez is the man who was responsible for bringing to life the smooth-talking, hard-working, name-reminiscent of a biker town in South Dakota, the great Sturgis! His Sanctuary’s own handy helper is with us today, and we could not be more excited to have him. And as an added bonus, Philip has also appeared in episode of the TWS acclaimed television series Becker, so you know we had to ask him about some of that magic. If there is one thing you could call us here at TWS, it is persistent. We know what we want, and we know what we love. And we love the work of Philip Anthony-Rodriguez!

So please enjoy some great words from the amazing actor and voice over artist, Philip Anthony-Rodriquez. And as he mentions in the interview itself, find Philip when you are making the rounds at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Enjoy!

 

When did you realize you wanted to become an actor? Was it a passion from a young age or did you just sort of fall into it? 

It was a little bit of both. I’ve always been a fan of TV and film. But when I was 9, a woman named Jeanne Niederlitz came to my hometown community center in Brooklyn with a summer theater troupe for kids. It was called Acting By Children (ABC) and we’d put on original musicals all performed by kids: costumes, rehearsals, audiences, the works!  I was instantly hooked! Later, Jeanne went on to be my very first manager. I then went on to do commercials, small parts in movies, TV shows …and the rest, as they say, is history.

What was the first film/television show you can remember having your name appear in the credits? Do you remember what you were doing at that exact moment when you first saw it?

I was cast as the lead guest star on one of Dick Wolf’s early hit shows called New York Undercover. This show had the actor credits at the beginning of the show. My heart skipped a beat and I got choked up seeing my name up on the screen. And it was even more special because I believe I was on screen when my name appeared.  I felt like I had finally “made it” as an actor (hahaha). It was a dream fulfilled!

You had a solid run on the hit television show Grimm. What was it like working on a show like this? And how did you enjoy my homeland up there in the Pacific Northwest?

Oh boy! This was a real treat working on for many reasons. It reunited me with my uber producer David Greenwalt from my days starring on Jake 2.0, which incidentally was a GREAT series that wasn’t given the chance it deserved to remain on the air. ;). But with Grimm, I was joining an established hit show and I got to have in on the fun and be a part of something really special. I also got to play a reeeaally slick but evil, Bond-esque, “Euro-Villain” name Marcus Rispoli. This was awesome for a few reasons. A) I wasn’t pigeonholed into being (solely) a Latino character with a Latino surname (nothing wrong with that, by the way) so it was nice to not be “Latino Phil” for something. B) He was an absolute badass that wore expensive suits and could kill you with his steely, death stare! Lol. And C) It gave me the opportunity to perform the character with the quasi-British/Mid-Atlantic accent I had worked on for years and SO wanted to “unleash” it onto the world. 🙂

The show’s cast and crew were top-notch as well as was your “homeland”. They and the city of Portland welcomed me with open arms…and sometimes a hug as well!   I always looked forward to flying up there from LA to work. And can I just say, “Portland, man! SUCH an awesome foodie town!!” I mean it, I had some of THE best food while I was there. So much so that I’d often find myself saying, “Eat your heart out, Paris, New York and L.A.!!” Portland is on the map for food glory these days!

I know it has been a long time, and it was only one episode, but you appeared on one of my favorite television sitcoms of all time, the amazing Becker. So I am obliged to ask, how did you enjoy being on that set? Was it a memorable experience in any way?

Oh wow, that is going back a bit! But hey, Becker…what can I say? Got to work with the legendary Ted Danson as well as the rest of that stellar cast. It was a short but sweet gig. But it was also special because it was a Christmas episode…those are ALWAYS fun! It also has the virtue of being THE first sitcom I worked on. What better way to get your feet wet than by being on a winner like that?

What would you say are the pro’s and cons of voice over work as compared to your on-screen work? Do you have a preference between the two?

Well, the pros are many with voice over work. I do it with just as much frequency as I do with my on-screen work. And it is the “bread and butter” work for me…from said frequency perspective. But you’ve also heard other voice talent mention the obvious perks: You can just roll outta bed in your jammies and into the recording booth if you want…because no one can see you. But that’s kinda gross. I like to at least wear jeans and a tee shirt! 😉 But seriously, doing voice over work is typically more “exotic” work for me. As in you typically perform unusual characters that you don’t often get to play on screen. With voice over work, I’ve gotten to play a “Spartan” super-soldier in Halo Reach, a homicidal super-cyborg in Metal Gear, an immortal shaman and rebel leader in Rise of the Tomb Raider and a member of an alien races of all shapes and sizes countless times. THAT’S pretty cool, in my book. There’s also that extra special goose-bumpy feeling that occurs when you see YOUR voice put to an animated or computer generated image of your character. It is…fascinating, to say the least. Some of the cons are that voice work CAN put a strain on your voice. Especially when we’re working on high octane, action-filled, single-shooter type games. Nothing that a couple days’ rest can’t fix, though.

And then you have screen work. Which can be a totally different beast altogether. That has its merit and uniqueness to it too. I know for me, I still get a kick out of seeing myself on the screen. Especially if, as I’ve said before, I’m doing something cool I don’t always get to do in real life. Again, I think it’s pretty cool. How many people get to say that?? That’s why I don’t buy it when you hear some actors say, “Oh, I don’t watch myself on screen!” Why the heck not?? That always sounds a little pretentious to me sometimes. Enjoy it. Revel in it! Be proud of it. You can do that without making it seem like you’re gloating or full of yourself. 🙂

How was your experience working on Fallout 4 as the go-to fixer of Sanctuary Hills, Sturges? Was it exceptional to other projects you have worked on in any way?

You know, it’s funny how the whole Sturges thing panned out for me. This was yet another situation where I got to go “against type” for me. A rockabilly, Elvis-inspired, do-it-all Mr. Fixit with a southern drawl for the ages! I mean, I’m a Puerto Rican kid…from Brooklyn, for cryin’ out loud! And here I am, suddenly thrust into a hit game AND franchise. Actors never see the forest for the trees with regard to how well a video game is going to be…or how popular. We just go into the booth and once there, the sessions are very methodical–in the sense that there is a lot of information and words you must dole out. BUT you also have to create and instill the performance aspect to it and bring that character to life. That’s why gaming and performances are SO “cinematic” these days. With the advent of CGI, motion and face capture, designers are always looking for solid and experienced actors to work on these games. That’s why you have stars like Kevin Spacey showing up on your most recent version of Call of Duty. You would’ve never seen this happen say, 25 years ago. Again, Sturges for me was exceptional in the sense that I got to play someone I’d probably never get to play on screen. And that,in itself, is special.

What has the fan reaction been like since Fallout 4 was released? Do you find Fallout fans to be a bit more fanatical (no pun intended) than other projects you have worked on?

The fan reaction has been unprecedented… at least for me. Like I said before, actors don’t know how well something is going to be until it’s released, gained some momentum with fans and then has that snowball effect in popularity. I LOVE how fans react to a game’s success (or failure). It’s always cool to read official fan Twitter feeds and how fans always refer to you by your character name when asking questions or posting game related tidbits. They really are savvy enough to know when something works and is clicking for them. If it’s entertaining enough and whether it holds its own as compared to other games, the buck ALWAYS stops with fans in terms of how successful a game is going to be…critics and game magazine reviews, be damned.! So, as a game designer, you better make sure you’re putting out a great product. Fans and true gamers can smell out a stinker. lol. It’s strange though what fans zero in on with characters on projects I’ve worked on. I’ve been on a few GTA series and it’s hilarious to me that I always get recognized for Maurice Chavez…a radio personality and voice you ONLY hear on the radio during game play. Too funny.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Well, for the immediate future, ComicCon Conventions. So, check out a ComicCon and gaming conventions near you. I’ll be attending the mother of all conventions in July, San Diego ComicCon with a signing booth! I am stoked, to say the least. I’ll be signing photos, memorabilia and action figures from Star Wars Rebels, Grimm all game projects I’ve been a part of over the years. Sooo, if you plan to be around for the festivities, I’d love it if fans would drop by and say, “whassup!?”. I also have a Guest Star role coming up on the Season 2 of Queen of the South for USA Networks. For the long term, I am super proud of the fact that I am a dad again! My wife Cindy and I are the proud mama and papa of a beautiful and totally awesome baby boy! So, that for me is my greatest adventure. But I’m sure you’ll be seeing me up on the big screen and/or the virtual world in the very near future! 😀

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Seeing my baby boy being born! And when he looks up at me…and smiles. (sniff, sniff!) Gets me all the time! 😉

Check out this video courtesy of Luridus for a great example of Philip’s work on Fallout 4 as Sturgis:

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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