No matter if it is a secondary character like Primo in 2003’s “Biker Boyz” or a more principal part like an at-risk high school basketball player in 2004’s “Coach Carter,” Rick Gonzalez takes roles as they come and only asks for one thing in return: Variety.
“I think right now I am just trying to make good strategic moves and trying to be a part of some really different types of things,” Gonzalez told me during a phone interview. “I want to be a part of things that people would normally not think of me in. I definitely don’t want to give people the impression that I am only one specific type of actor.”
In his seven-year career, Gonzalez, 25, has stayed away from being type cast, something he feels happens to many actors his age, playing everything from a frat boy who works part time at Red Lobster in “Old School,” which stars Will Ferrell, to a 14-year-old roller skater in the upcoming “Roll Bounce.”
Now, Gonzalez enters the film industry’s big leagues with a role in Academy Award winning director Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds,” a remake of the 1953 film of the same name. Albeit a small role, Gonzalez said he jumped at the opportunity to be on the set with Spielberg and actors, which included Academy Award nominated Tom Cruise (“Magnolia”) and Academy Award winner Tim Robbins (“Mystic River”).
“My agent told me it wasn’t that big (of a role) but if I wanted to go out on it I should,” Gonzalez, who is half Puerto Rican and half Dominican, said. “I was like, ‘Absolutely!’ What I wouldn’t do to have Spielberg at least look at my audition tape. It’s crazy because he picked me. It was just one of those things.”
Showing up on the set of the film without even reading the script, Gonzalez said the production was a “very hush-hush kind of thing.” The film’s title, according to some rumors, was changed to “Out of the Night” to keep unwanted people away from the set.
“It was like you were blindfolded for the experience,” Gonzalez described. “But it was cool for me because working with Spielberg was a dream. Working with Tom (Cruise) was surreal. Those guys were really nice; really easy-going people.”
Shooting for a week in New Jersey for his part in the film, Gonzalez remembers the day when one of the assistant directors introduced him to Spielberg so they could talk about his scene.
“In the beginning I was kind of like buggin’ out,” Gonzalez said of meeting the director. “I started getting butterflies in my stomach. But after that…it’s like you’re not even talking to the man. You’re just talking to a guy who is really cool and who just happens to be freaking rich and talented out of his mind.”
Currently, Gonzalez is in Romania shooting “Pulse,” a horror film starring Kristen Bell (TV’s “Veronica Mars”) and Def Jam recording artist and actress Christina Milian (“Be Cool”).
“At this point I can only control how well I do,” Gonzalez said. “I am just glad that everyone is really responsive to the characters that I have played.”