Talking ‘Mitty’ and Being a Character Actor with Adrian Martinez


adrian martinezI’m fascinated by character actors, as I’m sure many of you are as well. I’m especially fascinated when they start showing up in higher profile roles and begin to edge towards the cusp of going from “that guy” to an actor whose name you know immediately. For Adrian Martinez, 2013 was certainly one of those years. He’s in two of the award season’s highest profile releases in American Hustle and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which certainly can help out any actor. With over 80 other credits on his resume, he’s been around the block, and it was a pleasure about a week or so ago to hop on Skype and chat with the man for a bit. Below you can see the transcript of my interview with Martinez.

Here you go…

Adrian Martinez: Hi Joey! I was waiting for you to call me!

Joey Magidson: My mistake, I was actually waiting for you to call me…go figure. Oops!

AM: (laughs) Okay, what’s up man?

JM: First of all, I just wanted to say that I’m fascinated by your career.

AM: Oh good, you’re the one!

JM: You seem to pop up everywhere…

AM: I do, I’m actually behind you now?

JM: I should put on pants then! (Full disclosure, I was wearing shorts…the perk of working from home)

AM: (laughing)

JM: You know, there’s this really interesting mix of very small films, and then this year you have two huge films in American Hustle and Mitty. One is a potential Best Picture frontrunner and the other is a high profile remake…

AM: Yeah.

JM: And then there’s Piranha 3DD, but you’re someone who can say that you’ve worked with David O. Russell, Ben Stiller, Kevin Smith, Sidney Lumet, etc. A lot of people would kill for that. How does it all come about?

AM: Well, my career is all about just proving yourself every single day. You just have to go out and audition. You know, you just work. I’m not pretty like Jennifer Lawrence! It’s been a great ride and I’ve loved it every step of it though, so I’m not complaining. I’ve worked with extraordinary actors and directions…I’m feeling blessed today.

JM: What was the spark to start doing it?

AM: I’ve always had a fascination with movies, and even as a kid I’d look at performances and wonder why they were doing what they’re doing. Eventually, in High School I got the opportunity to audition for Unsolved Mysteries. At the time, I was a sprinter and the whole audition was to just run 100 yards, and whoever won the race got the job. I left everyone in the dust, and had one line “Open the door”. I screamed it out, got my SAG card, and off I went.

JM: Yay health insurance, right?

AM: (laughs) Right!

JM: Even early on, you were in notable movies like A Perfect Murder and In America, so you’ve been in front of us for a long time now…

AM: I really enjoyed that, it was my first studio movie and it was so interesting to me. I was actually raised two blocks from where we filmed my scene. I had sworn to my mother that I was going to get out of it all and be an actor and never see all the drug dealing and crime again, but lo and behold, my first movie I’m playing a drug dealer two blocks from my house. It was kind of like fate telling me never to forget where you’re from.

JM: I definitely know what you mean.

AM: Just today, I was on the subway and someone came up to me and said “Hey, you’re that actor guy” and I went “Yeah, I am that actor guy”, you know? He had no idea what my name was, but he knew the work and wanted to take a picture. Those are the little pats on the back that I get that keep me going.

JM: You do have a talent to be kind of a chameleon.

AM: That’s part of the fun for me. Who I am in American Hustle is different from who I am in Walter Mitty, which is completely different from who I am in Focus.

JM: You should have told him you were just Christian Bale in character.

AM: (laughs) Okay! I’m Jonah Hill!

JM: I’m a big Kevin Smith fan, so when you popped up in Cop Out, I enjoyed seeing you having a good time in that one.

AM: Some of us had a good time!

JM: We all know who you’re talking about…

AM: Right.

JM: To then go to something like American Hustle, where somehow you’re one of the most normal looking people in the film.

AM: The makeup room was like a wax museum, except they all moved! You know, right to my left was Jennifer Lawrence, and right to my right was Christian Bale and Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and I just went “hi”! You know who was really invested in getting to know me?

JM: Who?

AM: Christian Bale, every morning. He’d go “Adrian, how are you?” And I’m like “me?”. He took an active interest in me, and I won’t forget him for that.

JM: That’s always the best, even with what I do.

AM: It’s really all about being civil. Little acts of kindness go a long way.

JM: Being nice certainly goes a long way, indeed. Even for you, it doesn’t hurt to make a friend and be in the Christian Bale or Ben Stiller business.

AM: No, it doesn’t. What a guy Ben Stiller is too. I hope he gets recognized for all his hard work. I’ve never seen someone work harder on a movie. His work ethic is just off the charts, how tireless he is.

JM: It certainly comes out in the project.

AM: Yeah! It really is a beautiful film and I was really humbled to get the part. I had met him years ago while we were both doing plays and he had said he hoped we got to work together one day, and seven years later, we did!

JM: What about you? Any interest in stepping behind the camera?

AM: I’m actually doing it. I’m doing it in 2014, I’ve written it and gotten financing and I can’t talk to much about it, but it’s gonna happen. While filming Walter Mitty, I was just watching Ben, how he managed to do it all, so it was just like the best film school ever.

JM: Congratulations. Did you at least give yourself a good part?

AM: You know what, it’s pretty good.

JM: Excellent. I’m glad you did.

AM: At a certain point in your career, you just want to be able to say what’s in your heart. I’ve served the plot a lot before, and now I want to say a little bit about how I see the world.

JM: I look forward to that and I’m excited to see how that turns out. I’m a big fan of both of your films this year too.

AM: Thank you Joey!

We then actually chatted a bit about his role in Casa de mi Padre before saying our goodbyes. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this interview and pretty much whatever theater you head to this month, you can see Adrian Martinez in something, so make sure that you do…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!