Boiled down to its most basic components, acting is simply a matter of pretending to be someone else until the director yells "cut." That said, some actors have a knack for tapping into very specific characters and very specific sensibilities. One such performer is Rico Rodriguez, whose role in the new animated film Americano draws ample inspiration from other characters in his filmography. I recently had the chance to chat with Rodriguez about how his animated hero Cuco compares to his signature role of Manny on ABC's Modern Family, and he explained that both characters share a deep-seated love of family, as well as a dash of the actor's own passion for life as well. The 18-year-old performer explained:
If you have ever seen an episode of Modern Family, then you can pretty much already get a sense of the type of young hero that you will see in Americano. Like Manny, Cuco is an optimistic, warm-hearted, and generally family-oriented protagonist who can see the best in any situation. No one will ever accuse either of these characters of lacking passion in their lives, and it seems that this particular quality is actually derived from Rodriguez's own personal philosophy.
Getting a character like Cuco right is a relatively important task for a young actor like Rico Rodriguez. Americano represents a significant moment for the film industry, as it is the first major animated collaboration between the United States and Mexico -- and as such, a far cry from the typical offerings of Walt Disney Animation or Pixar. There's an inherent amount of pressure that goes into crafting a film with such historical ramifications, and the ability to draw inspiration from a beloved character like Manny (plus a lot of Rodriguez's own personality) helped to create a character that feels authentic and believable.
At its core, Americano seems like the type of film that needs a protagonist like Cuco. The film centers on the young Mexican parrot as he journeys to Hollywood to find a superhero named El Americano when his family is threatened by a gang of local thugs. Along the way, he undergoes a series of valuable life lessons, and figures out how to become his own unique superhero. In that end, that's not the type of story that can thrive with a dispassionate hero, and Rodriguez delivers the performance with all of the necessary gusto.
Americano is now available (opens in new tab) on Digital HD, DVD and On Demand. For more information related to the films that are set to debut in theaters this year, make sure to check out our comprehensive movie premiere guide!
Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.
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