[Exclusive] 'Peppermint' star Randy Gonzalez on working with Jennifer Garner: "She has a strong and positive presence"

Randy Gonzalez says 'Peppermint' is a great addition to the new wave of female empowerment, calls for more action films with strong female leads.


                            [Exclusive] 'Peppermint' star Randy Gonzalez on working with Jennifer Garner: "She has a strong and positive presence"

After a what seems like eons of playing second fiddle to her heroes, Jennifer Garner is making a statement about female badassery in her latest, ‘Peppermint.’ From love, revenge, and violence, the September 7 release has everything you look for in an action flick, and like every great action flick, ‘Peppermint’ too, has its fair share of bad guys, standing tall among them is Curly, played by Randy Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, best known for his work in ‘Bloodline,’ gives one of his best performances in this film, and stands out in ‘Peppermint,’ despite Garner’s spectacular performance. The actor speaks to Meaww about working with Garner and Pierre Morel, his journey as an actor and the wonderful charities he supports, among other things. 

‘Peppermint’ has all the making of a blockbuster film, along with being one of the most poignant films especially in the wake of this new wave of female empowerment. What attracted you to the project? Could you tell me a little bit about the audition process?   
 
I auditioned for Pierre Morel,  the director. I was already a fan of his since he had directed the film 'Taken,' so I already knew he's more than capable of making the action look good on screen. The audition itself was pretty straightforward. There was a lot of guys auditioning for the same part, so I came in thinking my chances were slim for it. But once I got in the room, it seems like Pierre and the producers liked what they saw because I got a call a few days later telling me I booked it. I think the film is coming out at a great time in regards to the wake of female empowerment. I think there should be more action films with strong female leads.

 

Randy Gonzalez plays Curly in 'Peppermint' Picture credit: Morgan Newton
Randy Gonzalez plays Curly in 'Peppermint' Picture credit: Morgan Newton

What was working with Pierre Morel like? What is his unique mode of directing – is he very hands-on and a stickler for the script or does he let his actors experience the scene and allow room for improvising? Of the two, what do you, as an actor, prefer?     
 
Pierre was pretty laid back for the most part which I like. If a director is stressed out and tensed up on set, it carries over to everyone else which doesn't make for a great work environment. He was pretty hands on. If he wanted you to react to a certain line or to look at a certain mark off-camera during a take, he would tell you, but he did allow some room for improvising, which I always like. I feel like that gives you more room to bring some of yourself on camera.

He did something very cool for some scenes where he shot them with an old film camera, and I'm talking old enough, where he would be hand cranking the film. He used these in the scenes where Riley North (Jennifer Garner) is having flashback scenes, and this gave the scenes a grainy, disorientated look.  

You play a very scary hitman in the film. Face tattoos aside, what were some of the things you did to get into character? Do you have any rituals before you begin shooting?   

The face tattoos and the wardrobe definitely helped with getting into character. For a role like this listening to Chicano rap in my trailer before going to shoot my scenes would help. I would listen to some Mr.Criminal or King Lil G.  

What was it like sharing screen space with an actress like Jennifer Garner? Did you feel like you learned or imbibed anything - regarding acting, a career in general or even just on a humane level – while working with her? 

She has such a strong and positive presence, so it was great sharing the screen with her. She really pushes for doing a lot of her own stunts, so that's always inspiring to see. I really learned to be a team player from her. We had to shoot a fight scene in a tight space, and it was hard for the makeup department to get to us, but they wanted us to look sweaty during the fight. So, between takes, Jennifer would just mist herself and then mist me; so we'd have the sweaty look. So, the make-up department wouldn't have to waste time coming to us; I thought that was really cool of her.

Does the theme of such an intense film seep into the sets as well, or was it a fun and jovial environment? Could you tell me a little about something funny or silly that happened behind the scenes? 

For the most part, it was fun and jovial. Even during the intense scenes, there was still a playful attitude on set. There's a scene we shot at a Christmas Carnival, and me and two of the other bad guys on the film, had a photo shoot on a carousel while wearing our full-blown wardrobe face tattoos and all. We also filmed a little music video of us dancing to 'Everybody' by The Backstreet Boys. 

How would you sell ‘Peppermint’ to your potential audience?  

Go and watch this if you want to see a gritty violent action flick with a strong female lead. It's badass and entertaining, and very fun to watch with a group. 

What can you tell us about ‘David Makes Man’? What is the most exciting aspect for you regarding that project?  

'David Makes Man' is a new series for OWN I'm working on created by Tarrell Alvin McCraney, who won an Oscar for writing on the film 'Moonlight.' Its Executive Producers include Michael B. Jordan and Oprah Winfrey, so some very talented people are involved with this project. The most exciting aspect for me is that it takes place in Miami, which is where I'm originally from. So, it's cool to be a part of a project that represents my hometown.

Randy Gonzalez is best known for his role as Manny in 'Bloodline'. picture credit: Morgan Newton.
Randy Gonzalez is best known for his role as Manny in 'Bloodline'. picture credit: Morgan Newton.

 

You have come a long way since the uncredited camp survivor role in ‘The Walking Dead’ to awaiting your memorable role as Manny on 'Bloodline' and now being part of some of the most anticipated projects in the near future. How has this journey been? If you could tell your younger version who was envisioning a career in showbiz anything, what would it be?   

The journey has been slow and steady, but gradually I've been making progress, which is great. I've gotten to work with some amazing actors and directors so far, and I hope I continue to do so. If I could give my younger self some advice is, don't be impatient. I would also tell myself to start writing and directing. I wish I would have started doing both of those when I was younger. 

What are the things you cannot wait to check off of your career bucket list? Any directors/actor you want to work with, genres you are looking forward to explore, etc?   

As far as directors go, I would love to work with Guillermo Del Toro. I think he is such a visionary. I also really want to work with Taylor Sheridan. I think he's an extremely talented writer/director. For actors, I think Bryan Cranston would be really cool. I was a big 'Breaking Bad' fan, so that would be fun. I want to book a superhero franchise soon, so hopefully writing it down here speaks it into existence. 

 

Randy is a huge supporter of the charity Young Storytellers. Picture credit: Morgan Newton
Randy is a huge supporter of the charity Young Storytellers. Picture credit: Morgan Newton

I understand that you are involved with many charities. What are some of the charities that have been some great work in recent times according to you? Why do you support them and propose that people support them?  

Young Storytellers is a great organization. I've worked with them for two years as a mentor. You help a fifth grader write a short screenplay for a few weeks. Then once it's finished, they bring in actors to act out the screenplays the kids wrote in front of their entire school. It's amazing to see the kids light up when they see what they wrote come to life. Also, the stuff they come up with is insane and hilarious usually. Kids have the best imagination. You can check out their website at Youngstorytellers.com.