When he’s not catching air on a half-pipe, professional skateboarder Paul Rodríguez Jr., 25, has found other ways to build on his success.
Along with his own line of skateboarding equipment, Rodríguez Jr., who also goes by the nickname P-Rod, started an acting career in 2002 when he was featured in an episode of the Nickelodeon TV show “The Brothers García.” In 2008, he made his film debut in “Vicious Circle.” In the film he plays R.J., a skater and aspiring comic book artist who falls in love with a punk rock singer (Emily Ríos). “Vicious Circle,” which is described as a “Romeo and Juliet”-type love story, was released on DVD last month.
Most recently in his skateboarding career, Rodríguez Jr., who is the son of comedian/actor Paul Rodríguez (“Tortilla Soup”), came in second place at the skateboard competition “Battle at the Berrics 2,” this past November, where he went head-to-head with skater Chris Cole in the finals. For his second-place finish, Rodríguez Jr. won $5,000, which he donated to the Nick Mullins Fund. Mullins is a teenage skateboarder from Ohio who lost his vision in one eye after a staph infection almost took his life last year.
During an interview with me, Rodríguez Jr. talked about his donation to Mullins and what he learned as a new actor.
Congratulations for your win at “Battle of the Berrics 2.” Were you happy with your performance?
Yes because I didn’t think I was going to get that far. Obviously, I wanted to win, but you can’t be too disappointed when you lose to a guy like Chris Cole. He’s as good as it gets.
I read you donated your prize money to the Nick Mullis Fund. What was it about his story that resonated with you?
He’s a kid that was really dedicated to his skating. I knew – win or lose – I was going to give something to this fund because that story touched me. If that happened to me, I would be devastated. I wanted to do something to help pay for the surgeries he still needs.
Since “Vicious Circle” was your first film, was most of the time spent getting used to how everything works on a movie set?
Yes and no. I’m at the beginning stages of it in terms of acting. But I grew up on movie sets with my dad. I’ve been on multiple TV and movie sets. I’ve seen how it works as a bystander, but now I’m in there doing it myself.
I’ve interviewed your dad on a few occasions and he’s said he’s always been supportive of you as a skateboarder, but initially thought it might be better just as a hobby. Why did you decide to make this your career?
I always had this crazy desire to skate. My mom couldn’t even get me to come inside and eat dinner. I wanted to skate all day. I practiced so much I just started getting good. People in the skating world started noticing. It gave me hope that I could go farther with it. I felt like I could make it.
“Vicious Circle” is described as a “Romeo and Juliet”-type story. Did you revisit that William Shakespeare classic or did you want to try to make this your own?
You know, acting was so new to me at the time; I didn’t even know how to do something like that. I didn’t have any methods of teaching that I could draw from. The only thing I tried to do was make sure my lines were memorized and make them sound like they were natural. But looking back now, I would definitely go back and study Shakespeare and study the script in more detail.