Vincent Rodriguez III on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Diversity in Hollywood — Exclusive
We have a crazy crush on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The CW's delightful new lead-in for last year's biggest surprise, the also delightful Jane the Virgin.
Like Jane, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend suffers from a title that turns some viewers off sight unseen. Also like Jane, this musical comedy — about a woman named Rebecca who ditches her job to follow a summer fling from her teenage years across the country — is smart, creative, and unabashedly feminist, despite the unlikely premise.
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Wetpaint recently chatted with Vincent Rodriguez III who plays the aforementioned summer fling, Josh Chan, a chill California dude who, as Rebecca is upset to learn, already has a girlfriend. Vincent dished on what we can expect from the show, the importance of diversity on TV, and how Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is really about the crazy in all of us.
Josh is Asian, and he was written to be that way — a fact Vincent really appreciated when he first heard about the role.
"When I got the breakdown [for the audition], one of the first things I noticed was one, it was an Asian male,” the California native said. “And two, the breakdown described me, which I'm not used to — having it say, oh, here are the attributes of the character, and they preferably want an Asian guy ... It was really refreshing to be a part of an audition process where the character who I'm auditioning for reflects who I was growing up, and what my life was like."
"It was very very surreal for me at that time," Vincent recalls. "When I got my final audition, I asked [show creator Aline Brosh McKenna], so, why is it Josh Chang — because at the time it was Chang — and not Josh Smith, or Josh Pitt, or something obviously not ethnic.
“She said she and [co-creator and star] Rachel [Bloom] had grown up in Southern California near the beach, and saw the surfer dudes and the skateboarders, and definitely saw a high population of Asian dudes ... and she realized there wasn't anyone representing them on television."
Vincent added that, as his character's been fleshed out, we've gotten to see how his background influences him. "It's been very fulfilling from that standpoint, to feel like my family and heritage is being represented."
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On Rebecca and Josh
We're three episodes into the show, and while there is a spark between Rebecca and Josh, the road to romance isn't exactly clear — in part because Josh has a girlfriend already, the stunning Valencia. Plus they hardly know each other! That said, Vincent does think there's reasons to root for them.
"I think Rebecca is in love with love," Vincent explained of why she'd go chasing across the country after a dude he describes as "an everyman...[not] the the smartest, or the sexiest." But he does "bring out a happiness in Rebecca that she didn't really get when she was younger. Josh lives his happiness every day, because that’s how he was raised, and that's his energy."
"You see how compatible Rebecca and Josh actually are," he added. "But [it's a situation] millions of people have experienced: there's that person you're friends with, and maybe you have feelings for them, but you don't pursue it for whatever reason. There's that compatibility —like Hey, we could be a thing, but we're just friends, because I'm with someone else."
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On Everyone's Crazy
Plus, while Josh is a genuinely nice guy, he's not without his flaws, which we'll find out more about as we go forward.
"We're also going to explore Josh's mind, and his background, and what his hangups are," Vincent teased. "It has to do with his past. We'll find he loves his past so much it can actually ruin parts of his present."
He added, "Each of us has our own crazy on the show. The show's called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but we're going to explore the craziness of everyone on the show... That's one of the attributes of the show I love so much. I feel like everyone can look at the characters and go Oh my gosh, I've done that. Or, my brother is like that, my friend is like that. I think there's a lot of truth to the way the show is written.
"It's us saying to the world, ‘We know people have problems, but you can get through it.’ That's the hidden message behind the songs, or the genres we parody. There's that element of ‘It's OK, we know you're crazy, but it's going to be fine.’"
For more from Vincent, follow him on Twitter @vrodrigueziii.
Catch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Mondays at 8 p.m. on The CW.