Adam Rodriguez talks Magic Mike

(L-R) Adam Rodriguez as Tito and Alex Pettyfer as “The Kid”

Ladies, if you haven’t already, make sure to plan a Girls Night Out at the movies this Friday, because Magic Mike will finally be in theaters. Ridiculously good-looking men like Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, Joe Mangianello and Adam Rodriguez shirtless and dancing onstage for two hours is just too good to pass up.

Magic Mike is a film based loosely upon Tatum’s experience as a male stripper. Tatum plays the titular character, Magic Mike, who is trying to get out of the stripping business and become a furniture designer. Like Mike, the other guys at Exquisite have big dreams that they have put off to make good money dancing.

One of these men, Tito (Rodriguez), dreams of becoming a real estate mogul. Rodriguez admits it was a little scary being practically naked on screen, a completely different experience than his time on the set of CSI: Miami as Detective Eric Delko, but he channeled his nervous energy into intense dedication to preparing for the role.

ADAM RODRIGUEZ as Tito in Warner Bros. Pictures’€™ dramatic comedy €œMAGIC MIKE,€ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Claudette Barius.

AG: Can you tell us a little bit about your character, Tito, in Magic Mike?
AR: Tito is one of the guys that’s been dancing at the club for years. This is a band of brothers that exists there. All of these guys, they’ve been working at that club, Exquisite, for many years. They all started out there with dreams of doing something else. Tito’s dream is to go on and be a real estate mogul kind of guy, like you might see in an infomercial on television, and he’s got big plans and dreams about how he wants to do this. He actually has some really interesting ideas. The problem is that, even with all these interesting ideas, he’s still there dancing in the club after all this time. It’s really what the movie is about. It’s about these guys who have big dreams and want to be somewhere else doing something else, but life is sort of happening while they’re making a living as strippers. I think that happens to a lot of people, whether they’re strippers or they end up doing a job that they didn’t intend to do for the rest of their lives. Sometimes it does become their lives, and really what they want to do is get out of there, so that’s where Tito is at and where all of the guys are pretty much at.

AG: Is there any personal connection between you and Tito?
AR: Yeah, for sure. I can understand what it is to have dreams, of doing something. I can understand how easy it is to get caught up, become side-tracked. In that sense, I had a similar experience. I was just starting out as an actor, or actually just starting out deciding I wanted to be an actor. I was 19 years old and working as a stock broker. I was sitting in the office one day – I had been there for a couple of months – and I was watching a motivational speaker speaking to everyone at the office. Listening to him, I’m looking around the office, looking at everybody that’s miserable and not really happy to be there doing what they’re doing. It dawned on me, like, “What am I doing here? This could end up side-tracking me from what I really want to do, which I know is to be an actor, so why am I here? Just to make a couple bucks so I don’t have to starve as an actor? I would rather starve doing what I want to be doing than get stuck here.”  So I can understand how Tito got stuck. I couldn’t relate to the fact that he did get stuck, because I made a different decision, but personally, I can see how easy it is to get stuck. That was definitely a personal connection to the role.

Adam Rodriguez as Tito, performing for a birthday party at Exquisite

AG: How did you get involved in this project?
AR: I got a phone call from my manager and my agent, and they said, “We’ve got a movie.” I cant remember if they said it was a stripper movie or it was a Steven Soderbergh movie. I don’t know which came first, but it was in the same sentence. In that moment, I was like, “Yes, I absolutely want to work with Steven Soderbergh, without a doubt. I don’t care what the movie is.” Then, the next thing was just sheer terror, knowing that “wait a minute, holy shit, I’m going to play a stripper.” I knew I needed to be in incredible shape, have to probably be wearing a thong, which of course ended up being true, and that I was going to have to dance. All of these things were things that I wasn’t exactly prepared to do when I picked up the phone call.

AG: How did you prepare for taking off your shirt and dancing throughout this whole movie?
AR: As you can imagine, just intense exercise, a commitment to maintaining a very strict diet, and putting in a lot of time at the gym between cardio exercise and weight training. Just a 100 percent commitment to getting prepared. There were a lot of dance rehearsals, and doing all of that while still filming CSI: Miami and mentally preparing Tito for who I saw him to be. It was a really intense six weeks of preparation and really the most committed I have ever been to a job. It was really rewarding and felt great to show up on set and be with these guys, for everyone to have been as prepared as they were, and of course to have a chance to work together and make the movie that we did.

AG: Speaking of working with the guys, what was it like working with Channing Tatum? He obviously has worked as a male stripper before he started acting, so did he offer you all any pointers or tips?
AR: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there was no question that from day one, Channing was the best dancer there by far. He was really supportive of us, and encouraging. He would give pointers along the way about just working your body from certain angles and what looks better from other angles, and then just in general, like to be a supportive friend. He really was the leader, it was his movie. I have to say, he did a great job setting a comfortable tone for everybody. I met Channing years ago – he did an episode of CSI: Miami as one of his first acting jobs – and we spent a day together there down in Miami. It was one of the times we were filming in Miami, actually, and I got to know him a little bit, liked him, but didn’t see him again until this movie. I followed his career, though, and I noticed him, when things started popping for him, and always remembered him from the day that we spent together. He was just a genuine down-to-earth guy, and it was really great to see he hadn’t lost any of that. He really came across the way that he played the role as the lead in the movie and the leader of setting the tone on set. Him and Steven both were just really cool, really wonderful, made everyone feel really comfortable and safe to go out and give it their all.

AG: Obviously, this movie is really big with the ladies, so how does it feel to be a sort of sex symbol?
AR: You know, I am excited to see what becomes of it. I mean, it feels good, definitely, it feels really good. At this point, I’m like, “No holding back now, my ass is shaking on camera, on that big screen.” More than once you’re going to see it shaking up there, so the damage is done, whatever is going to be is going to be. If that means being a sex symbol, then bring it on.

The boys of Exquisite

AG: What would you like for people to walk away with from this movie?
AR: First and foremost, I would like for people to walk away feeling like they had a great time watching the movie, that they enjoyed the characters, enjoyed the story, enjoyed the style with which Steven told the story and the performances that help bring the story to life. I hope they realize that we don’t have forever here. Time is precious, and if you have a dream and want to fulfill that dream, don’t allow yourself to be side-tracked. Don’t get caught up being half-happy with your life. If you have a dream, go all the way with it, and don’t let anything get in the way of getting it.

AG: Now that you’re a sex symbol, what sort of advice do you have for men out there to attract women?
AR: Genuine confidence. Not cockiness, not arrogance, just genuine confidence. Be sure that you know you’ve got something to offer, because everybody does. Everybody has something to offer to the world, and if you know you’ve got something to offer, feel good about what it is. The girls that get it, they get it. The ones that don’t, well, don’t waste your time on them.

AG: Delving a little further from the movie, I understand CSI: Miami is in its final season. What is like saying goodbye?
AR: Yeah, it’s a wrap on the series. It was a bit of a surprise, you kind of have a moment of shock, like “Wow, it’s over, I can’t believe it,” but I am actually excited to be moving on. I am excited to see what’s next,  to see what’s waiting for me in the wings, and really just see where my career is going to progress. CSI: Miami was a great place to spend the time that I spent there. I learned a tremendous amount, like being able to work on a set every day. I got a chance to write and direct, all of those things, but it was definitely time to move on. I am excited to have the freedom to go out there now and explore other options, get a chance to tell other stories, and hopefully get to continue to work with the kind of people I worked with here on Magic Mike.

The main attraction at Exquisite

AG: So what do you have coming up next?
AR: Right now, don’t have anything lined up that is set in stone. I’ve got some things that are in the works, and I am excited about those things, but I don’t have anything locked in. I’m kind of excited about the unknown. I really love the feeling of just kind of free-falling and waiting to see where I’m going to land. That’s the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.

AG: Well thank you so much for your time. Good luck, and I can’t wait to watch the movie!
AR: Yeah, I hope you enjoy it. I know you will, actually. It’s a really great movie, so have a great time.

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