Cristina Rodlo hit the TV trifecta over the past year: starring roles in “Too Old to Die Young” (Amazon), “The Terror: Infamy” (AMC) and now on breakout hit “68 Whiskey,” Paramount Network’s “M*A*S*H”-type ensemble war dramedy that premiered to 2 million viewers.
Rodlo, who grew up in Mexico (Terreon) and studied acting in New York at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, plays Sgt. Rosa Alvarez, a tough Army medic stationed at a multicultural NATO Coalition Base in the Laghman Province of Afghanistan. Facing deportation back to Mexico (like her father), Alvarez and her medic pal, base troublemaker Cooper Roback (Sam Keeley), decide to get hitched so Alvarez can remain in the Army.
“She’s Mexican but she’s also an American — she’s a dreamer, basically, and her family is being deported while she’s in Afghanistan fighting for her country,” says Rodlo, 29. “We need people to see stories like hers and connect to them. People like Rosa come to this country to have a better life, not only for them and their families but also to make this country better.”
Over the course of the first three episodes Alvarez refuses to let her guard down, though there are indications that won’t last for too much longer. “She definitely wants to keep everything to herself and she’s afraid of being deported by the country she’s fighting for,” Rodlo says. “She doesn’t want to show too much … and have it taken away from her. She needs to have a mask, to show everyone she’s OK and is going to be fine and get this solved.
“I think she tries to be positive even though everything is falling apart.”
Rodlo says that her familiarity with “68 Whiskey” director Michael Lehmann, who directed her on “The Terror: Infamy,” helped her snare the role, though she was kept waiting for quite a while after auditioning. “I was the first one to test for the role and they said, ‘We need to see more people. We’re not going to go with our first option,’” she says. “They kept seeing people for three months and finally got back to me and said, ‘You’re the one.’”
As the season progresses — shooting is scheduled to wrap this week in and around Santa Clarita and Chatsworth, Calif. — Alvarez will definitely evolve as she and Roback go forward with their marriage plans.
“She’s going to have a hard time and there are going to be a few things with Roback that you don’t expect,” she says. “They do get married and … a marriage is not easy, and when you’re pretending to be married it’s definitely harder. There are going to be a few funny moments; she’s going to grow up a lot during the season and will have a relationship you don’t see coming.”
Rodlo says she thinks the show — co-starring Gage Golightly,Beth Riesgraf, Derek Theler, Jeremy Tardy and Nicholas Coombe — is striking a chord with viewers because of its diverse array of characters. “These characters are so different from each other and people are able to connect with all of them,” she says. “People are like, ‘That’s what I would do in that situation.’
“Even though they’re in Afghanistan, which is so far away, the show is about love and how these people relate to one another.”
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