Hollywood actor credits Brownsville Camille Playhouse for his start in the industry

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A Brownsville native has made his way to the big screen in Hollywood, acting alongside Johnny Depp.

From a young age, he said he knew he had a passion for the arts. In high school, Rodriguez was in band, track, cross country, and president of the National Art Society. At Saint Joseph Academy, Rodriguez was in a drama class that exposed him to stage life.

“I loved to paint and draw but there was a particular sort of calling that I felt when it came to acting,” he said. “And then I remember, to this day, some of those early performances in that class, whether or not the acting was good, I could feel those eyes on me, and I could feel that being present for that work.”

Rodriguez also credits the Camile Lightner Playhouse in Brownsville for instilling a longing and desire to pursue acting.

“Community theater, I think is often overlooked as this quaint staple of a town,” he said. “But the reality is, it is such an opportunity for people who want to fulfill that aspect of their life, who yearn to be on stage, to be involved in acting or directing or are passionate about writing plays.”

Rodriguez said Camille is where he got the confidence and opportunity to play bigger roles.

“You’re young and no one knows you,” Rodriguez said, recalling his time at the Camille. “You haven’t earned the right to play Macbeth in Macbeth, but you’re at the Camille Lightner Playhouse where they let you play. They give you that opportunity.”

In his most recent film Sea of Dawn, Rodriguez plays a 16th-century bill collector who becomes enchanted by a mysterious man, played by Johnny Depp, while trying to collect money owed.

Depp’s character ultimately convinces the bill collector to go with him on his next adventure rather than pay him the money.

Rodriguez said working alongside Depp was smooth and though he had never met the A-lister before the movie, he describes their chemistry as acting alongside an “old friend.”

“He is so good at what he does,” Rodriguez said. “He just moves off impulse and he gives you so much. It’s incredible.”

His advice to local artists and creatives who want to make it to the big screen is to put in the work. Rodriguez said the key to his acting craft is finding a balance between organically existing in front of the camera and also doing the technical work.

Despite having a bachelor’s in Theater and Dance and a master’s degree in Fine Arts, Rodriguez continues to take singing and dancing classes. He encourages all creatives to never settle and never stop learning.

“You never stop learning,” Rodriguez said. “Because I think the moment you do is the moment you start getting stale. Yeah, your talent is alive, but it’s only as alive as you feed it.”