Elijah Rodriguez chats with DAMAN about his big screen debut in “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”

DRAMATIC DEBUT. Up-and-coming actor Elijah Rodriguez talks about working with some of Hollywood’s legends

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So far, Elijah Rodriguez only has two movie credits to his name, with one more still in production. But the first two was for the 2014 animated hit “The Book of Life” and this year’s “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.” In the latter, he played alongside Benecio del Toro and Josh Brolin, and there are strong hints that he might appear in the third “Sicario” title. And the next time we see him, he will be acting opposite action legend Jean-Claude Van Damme in “We Die Young.” Now, that’s certainly an impressive start to what we hope will be a solid career.

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DAMAN: Hi, Elijah. Great to have you with us. How are you doing?
Elijah Rodriguez: I’m doing great, thank you for having me.

DAMAN: So, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is currently running in cinemas all over the world. How excited are you about your big screen debut?
Elijah Rodriguez: I’m excited for people to see the film and hope they walk out having seen something that blew them away and kept them on their feet.

DAMAN: What do you remember the most about your time on set for the movie?
Elijah Rodriguez: I remember working with Beni and Josh [Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin], and them making the long days there on set interesting and fun. But when it got down to business, they would give me tips and they’re just phenomenal actors who I learned a lot from.

DAMAN: Critical response to the movie has been positive. What do you think is the movie’s strongest points?
Elijah Rodriguez: The film’s strongest points are the realistic depiction of the innocence of children slowly fading and the stark reality of life at the border as well as the intimate relationships between the characters.

Outfit by Slate Denim
Jacket by A. Tiziano; jeans by Slate Denim

DAMAN: “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” ended with a big question mark for your character. And in June, producer Trent Luckinbill stated that a sequel is in development. Is there anything you can tell us about this third “Sicario” movie?
Elijah Rodriguez: I don’t know much yet but I hope they continue with my character Miguel and his story.

DAMAN: By the way, can you also tell us a bit about how you got the role of Miguel in “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”? What was the casting like?
Elijah Rodriguez: I went in to audition and the casting director seemed to like me. I came in again and read with the director. For the final audition I did a chemistry read with David who played my cousin and everything else is history.

DAMAN: If there’s one thing you learned or discovered from working on a movie project of this scale, what would it be?
Elijah Rodriguez: It takes the whole crew being in sync and working as one to accomplish such an ambitious project.

DAMAN: You’re also set to appear in “We Die Young,” playing alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme. Can you give us a short intro to this movie and your role in it?
Elijah Rodriguez: The story takes place in the slums of Washington D.C. over a span of 24 hours. My character, Lucas, who was inducted into a gang, has decided that he doesn’t want his younger brother to go down the same path. He has 24 hours to get out of D.C. with the help of Daniel—Van Damme—before his gang lord catches on.

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Coat by Mitchell Evan; T-shirt by Slate Denim
Polo shirt by A. Tiziano; jeans by Slate Denim

DAMAN: Looking back, most people first heard of you—quite literally, that is—through “The Book of Life” where you voiced the young Joaquin. What do you remember the most about working on that title?
Elijah Rodriguez: I remember being shown Joaquin for the first time and he looked just like me. It was fun recording and getting into character.

DAMAN: Are you still interested in doing more voice acting in the future?
Elijah Rodriguez: I had so much fun in the past and would definitely love to work on more cartoons. There is just so much more imagination and no limitations to what can be drawn to life with animation.

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Pullover by Mitchell Evan
Outfit by Elly Pistol

DAMAN: On that note, what kind of movies or perhaps TV shows would you like to take on next?
Elijah Rodriguez: Next, I’d like to work on a comedy- adventure flick and sitcoms.

DAMAN: One final question: What is it that drives you or motivates you in pursuing your passion for acting?
Elijah Rodriguez: I always liked telling stories and through acting I’m able to tell characters’ stories, as well as my drive to be one of the best actors in the film industry and wanting to leave my mark on the world.

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Turtleneck by 22|7; jeans by Slate Denim

Photographed by Jalen Turner
Styling by Ty Headlee
Grooming by Robert Bryan at State Artist Management