It has taken only a few short months for most of us to love ‘Modern Family’s’ 11-year-old Colombian-American schoolboy, Manny, an intrepid, huge-hearted romantic following the, er, passionate footsteps of his mother.
So it’s no surprise that a brief interview with the 11-year-old actor who plays Manny, Texas’ own Rico Rodriguez, quickly reveals a charming, playful extrovert who loves just about everything that goes into taping a series.
Growing up in College Station, Texas with his mom and stepfather, Rodriguez was a shy 5-year-old, looked on as his sister, Raini, started booking roles in shows like ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody’ and ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop.’
“I was like, I want to meet some stars, too,” he explains. “So I started enrolling in acting classes and found an agent.”
These days, Rodriguez tells Fancast, he’s having the time of his young life, hanging out with the other young actors on set, while learning a thing or two from experienced pros like Ed O’Neil.
Here’s what else he had to say:
So how did you wind up as Manny?
I went through audition after audition after audition. Finally I went to the directors call, and I guess they thought I could play a good Manny.
How excited were you when you found out that you got the part?
I was like, “Oh my god. Actually, my agent called me. We were driving home from the directors call. He asked my mom, “Can I talk to Rico real quick.” And he said, “You booked the pilot.” And I was like, “Oh gosh, no way!
Watch a clip from tomorrow night’s episode below:
Were you nervous?
I’m just ready for whatever is going to come at me.
How old were you when you got your first gig?
I was in an NFL promotion. I played a football player. I was five when I did that.
Do you like being on camera?
I just really like being filmed by a cameraman, and have the director say, “Action!” and “Cut!”
You’re a long way from College Station, Texas. Where do you stay when you’re filming ‘Modern Family’ in Los Angeles?
We have an apartment here in Sherman Oaks. It’s not too far from the set. You get right onto the freeway, and you’re there.
Now you have a school set up in trailer on the set, and all the kids on the show go there. What’s that like?
We have our own school room. It has four desk plus one big desk for the teacher. It has boards and everything. I think it’s kind of fun.
Are you friends with the other kids?
It’s actually bizarre but also cool. The kid who plays Luke Dunphy (Nolan Gould), we went to acting class together before we started doing the show. And the one who plays Alex Dunphy (Ariel Winter), we did a movie together (‘Opposite Day’). We all know each other.
What do you guys do together?
Me and Nolan, we have this thing. We have 45 minutes for lunch. We get done eating, and I have this flip video camera, and we film ‘Nolan and Rico’s Stunt Team Show.’ I’m a pretty good cameraman.
Sounds like you might want to be behind the camera when you grow up.
It’s be cool to be a director. Yeah, I can do it. Action! Cut! Do it again!.
What are your favorite shows?
I like ‘SpongeBob,’ ‘The Fairly Odd Parents, ‘Penguins of Madagascar’… and of course ‘Modern Family,’ ‘Hank’ and ‘The Middle.’ My mom won’t let me watch ‘Cougar Town’ yet.
What’s your favorite episode of ‘Modern Family’?
My favorite episode that’s been shown so fare is the one where Manny fences. I thought that was so cool. I never really fenced before.
How often do you go home to Texas?
We’re actually on hiatus and I’m going home Sunday. We’re going to drive my dad’s new car home.
Are you going to have a big party when you get home?
There’s this pizza parlor we go to where we eat pizza and spaghetti and play videogames. My cousins and my family will be there. That’s pretty much going to be our celebration.