The 31-year-old actor, who played embalmer Frederico "Rico" Diaz on the HBO hit "Six Feet Under," has two movies opening this month.
Rodriguez plays the best pal of a former Army ranger gone wrong in the gritty crime drama "Harsh Times." In "Bobby," about the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, Rodriguez plays Jose, a compassionate busboy who came to the aid of the fallen senator. Both films are in theaters now.
In his next role, Rodriguez plays a tattooed bad guy in Quentin Tarantino's "Grindhouse," due next year.
The youngest of three sons of first-generation Puerto Rican immigrants, Rodriguez says it's important for him to mix things up and not play into stereotypes.
"As long as there is truth, there's going to be stereotypes in films, and actors who are going to play them. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that," he said. "But I always felt like my game plan was different. There just needs to be somebody who stands up and says, `I'm going to take a stand and not be that dude."'