Versatile actor Armando Riesco, whose already achieved critical acclaim for his work in both film and television recently took on one of his most challenging roles yet in the Scott Coffey directed film “Adult World.”
Adult World stars Emma Roberts as a recent college graduate who believes she’s destined for greatness but instead winds up working in an adult book store. While there, she meets one of her favorite poets and becomes his assistant at Syracuse University. Riesco plays the role of Rubia, a transgender who takes Robert’s character under his wing and helps her transition to life in the real world. Originally premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in April of 2013, Adult World also stars John Cusack and Cloris Leachman.
Riesco’s acting prowess is not limited to just film, but also to the theater world as well. He’ll soon be reprising his role as troubled Iraq war veteran Elliot Ortiz in “The Happiest Songs Play Last”, the final installment in a trilogy by Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes at Second Stage in New York City. Riesco has previously portrayed the real life veteran twice before in “A Soldier’s Fugue” and “Water by the Spoonful.”
I had the pleasure of speaking with Riesco about Adult World and his other upcoming project.
Tell me how your role in Adult World came about?
It was a bit strange because I generally don’t get auditions for transgender characters [laughs]. In fact, when I first got the call about it, I passed on it immediately. At the time, I figured “This is crazy! There’s no way I’m right for this!” I remember I went home that night and told my wife about it and then later to my very conservative, Cuban, republican father and they both told me that I should should go for it! It was a huge challenge and something that I wanted to get right. I didn’t want it to come off as a caricature. It had to be real.
Did you have to do a lot of research prior to filming?
Absolutely. That’s my favorite part about acting. Immersing myself in whatever world the character is in. It takes me outside of my cocoon and lets me switch into overdrive. It was fun to think about what it would be like being a transgender living alone in an apartment in Syracuse and making a living through “nefarious” means [laughs]. It was a fun character to work with.
What’s the story of Adult World and how does your character fits into it?
Emma Roberts’ character (Amy) is a recent graduate who can’t find work and takes a job at a porn shop. She then ends up moving in with my character Rubia, who also works in the porn shop as well. I function as sort of a fairy godmother to Amy and lead her into becoming an adult.
What was the filming process like?
I’ve never had so much fun. Scott Coffey (Director) trusted me with the character and it was a responsibility that I gladly took on. It was so playful and there was a lot of improvisation involved. It really gave me the opportunity to take chances and see what would happen. As a result, we got a lot of great stuff that made it into the movie.
What was it like working with a cast that included Emma Roberts and Cloris Leachman?
Emma is lovely and was super-fun to be around. I think the relationship we got to develop together both on and off-screen really shows up in the film. And I loved working with a veteran actress like Cloris Leachman. You can tell that she really understands that life is bigger than just a movie. Her performance is so uninhibited and loose. It’s exactly what you want to see on camera.
What made you decide to be an actor?
There were several things, but one of them was seeing the movie “Shadowlands”, a story about the life of C.S Lewis. I saw that movie and then I saw it again, and again, and again. I thought the entire project was connected to a higher power in a way that made me want to be a part of. It was almost like a religious experience. It really inspired me to pursue the feeling of making people connect with life in a way that’s a little bit deeper than what they’re normally accustomed to.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m working on the last part of a trilogy of plays in New York. It’s been an amazing ride. The second play won the Pulitzer prize; the first one was nominated for one and now we’re on to the last one. I play an marine veteran who comes back from Iraq and has to deal with PTSD and getting back into the civilian world.
What advice can you pass along to other aspiring actors?
Acting is an endless process. There are always new things to learn and the moment you stop learning is the moment you should quit. In a way, it’s almost like the way muscle confusion is when you work out. You constantly have to be on your toes and try new things. Remain excited about acting and life in general. You have to be curious and if you are, you’ll have that spark that hopefully you can pass on.
Adult World comes to theaters and VOD February 14th.
For more on Armando Riesco, Check out his Facebook page by Clicking Here!