You know him as teenager Manny Delgado in Modern Family, which is premiering its seventh season tomorrow night, Sept. 23 on ABC. But Rico Rodriguez has also been busy with his new film, Endgame, a drama about a young chess prodigy using his gaming skills to further the success of his school’s team and unite his own disjointed family.
To celebrate both premieres, Rodriguez was able to share his Five Favorite Films with us, and he was eager to talk about his recent movie-bingeing sessions, when he caught up on some classics and popular favorites that he felt were must-sees. Here is his list:
One of the first ones on my list would have to be Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, just because I really look up to Alfred Hitchcock and what he did as a director. What’s so funny is that I never really knew the big reveal. After all these years, I’d never known the reveal. So when I saw it, I was genuinely shocked and freaked out by what I just saw. So it was really fun to be able to not have that kind of secret be revealed to me before and let me be surprised. It was a really great film and I really enjoyed it.
RT: That’s a long time to go through life not having that revealed to you; that is really cool.
And it’s crazy because they had Bates Motel come out — which is before Norman went crazy — but I never really dived into that before so I didn’t really know much backstory or anything. So when I watched it, I was genuinely freaked out.
RT: You just saw it recently then?
Yeah. A lot last year and this year, I have been on a movie watching phase — I just want to watch a bunch of movies: old, new — kind of, like, acclaimed. And I watched it around Halloween time so that’s what also kind of creeped me out as well. A lot of fun.
Just because I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and that movie really took the movie into a turn that set up the last movie. And the big surprises and everything that happen in the movie were really kind of revolutionary. And I just love sci-fi films, so Star Wars had to be on this list. And what’s so cool about it is I went to the 30th anniversary premiere — and I had just watched them — so I had brought an old VHS tape of that movie to the premiere, and I got Harrison Ford to sign it for me, which is really, really cool. And Billy Dee Williams was in an episode of Modern Family, and I got him to sign that VHS as well. So now all I really need to get is Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to complete the actors in that movie. It’s one of my prized possessions.
RT: You must be really excited for The Force Awakens too.
I am super excited for the new movie. And that’s why I’m re-watching them now, just to get back into it and see if I missed anything — make sure I’m all caught up with everything when the new movie comes out later.
RT: The new toys came out recently.
I saw one of them and they just look so cool!
I really, really enjoyed that one just because I watched [it] around when I watched Psycho, and I’d always heard about it. They make references in some shows that I watch. I was like, “You know, I might as well watch it.” It was my first — and so far the only — silent film I’ve ever seen. It was really cool just to watch back then how they did it and, again, it was revolutionary for its time.
RT: It’s a creepy one.
It’s really, really creepy. Again, it freaked me out. You’d think a silent movie from the 1920s wouldn’t be that scary. It was actually kind of scary; the beginning sequence as it described the vampire, that freaked me out [laughs].
RT: And there’s something just creepy about silence, too when we don’t have the words. Once we add dialogue, it’s so easy to ruin the mood.
It really is, and so you get to see their faces and body language — how they acted without sound, without words — which I thought was really cool. When I went to go watch it, I was like, “OK Rico, it’s a silent film. I don’t know how I’m going to react to it. I’m not sure if I’m going to like it or not.” I wanted to see it because it’s been so long since it came out. And when I watched it, I just really enjoyed it and now it’s one of my favorite movies.
RT: Lots of classics on your list.
Yeah, like I was saying, I’ve been into that movie phase and I just want to watch a bunch of classics.
Now I’m going a little more up-to-date modern. My fourth one would probably have to be Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal. I just really liked it. It was one of those movies that’s creepy but really entertaining and just different, and I really, really enjoyed that. When I saw the previews for it last year, I was like, “Man I really want to see it.” And I never got to because — we go to the movies often, but not as much. But whenever I do, I always want to go see a good movie; I want to see a movie I’d been wanting to see. So since I wasn’t able to watch it, I rented it the first day it came out, and I thought wow this movie is really, really good.
RT: And it’s scary in a very real way. It’s like this person could exist.
Which is the weird part, I know! Jake Gyllenhaal gave a great performance and that was really great to watch.
I’m a big fan of rap music and that group kind of revolutionized that style of music. And the acting was great. It was such a great film. I thought it was awesome , though, that these people — most biopics are of people who have passed away — these people are [pushing 50] and they already have a movie made about them. That’s so cool! Ice Cube and Dr. Dre — that’s so cool — they’ve really reached, like, awesome status.