Martín Rodríguez Plays a Killer in 'Griselda' and Found Inspiration in Shakespeare's 'Othello' (EXCLUSIVE)

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Jan. 31 2024, Published 12:58 p.m. ET

Martin Rodriguez attends the Miami premier of 'Griselda' at The Fillmore Miami Beach
Source: Getty Images

To be the kind of woman who rises to the top of the Miami drug trade in the 1970s, you'd have to have a smart and suspicious head on your shoulders. Griselda Blanco, who would later be known as the Cocaine Godmother, was that woman.

In Netflix's Griselda, we meet the titular Griselda (played by Sofía Vergara) as she is fleeing Colombia after murdering her husband. What she brings with her says a lot about Griselda: her sons and a single kilo of cocaine.

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She immediately dives into the Miami party scene and tries to get a proverbial foot in the door. One person Griselda encounters is Jorge "Rivi" Ayala (Martín Rodríguez), a lieutenant of sorts to drug kingpin Rafael “Amilcar” Rodriguez (José Zúñiga). From the moment we meet Ayala, it's clear he respects what Griselda is attempting, but it's Martín's choices as an actor that telegraph who Ayala is.

Martin Rodriguez in Netflix's Griselda
Source: Netflix

Martin Rodriguez as Rivi Ayala in 'Griselda'

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Martín's posture is particularly riveting throughout the show. While he slouches at times, suggesting relaxation, it's a trap that is given away by the actor's eyes. They are calculating and searching until they meet Griselda, a woman he holds to high esteem.

In a conversation with Distractify, Martín said he "took a lot of care to create a character with perspective because as the character makes his way through the series, every moment or gesture has to do with a sense of unity."

To dive deeper into the mind of Rivi Ayala as Martín Rodríguez saw him, read on for Distractify's exclusive interview with the actor.

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Distractify: How hard is it to bring a character to life when said character is a real person, and that person has done terrifying things?

Martín Rodríguez: The “bad characters” or those who did the scariest things are more difficult and the most interesting, and that's why we can learn in depth the human nature. While I was crafting and playing him, I was reminded of Iago from William Shakespeare's play Othello, because he had a certain evil but at the same time, he was always connecting reality with a higher force between light and darkness.

D: The real Rivi Ayala approached being a hitman as "just business." You treated him like a guru of sorts. How did you reconcile the two?

MR: The beautiful thing about fiction is that we can recreate the characters with artistic freedom so that our work makes sense. The script was very well written and the director was very clear about that. He becomes a spiritual advisor to Griselda, like a voice of deep conscience and that allowed us to show the complexity of the character and his relationship with Griselda in a unique way.

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Martin Rodriguez as Ayala in Griselda
Source: Netflix

D: What did you do to try and exorcise the demons that might have followed you home from work every day?

MR: Acting is an act of freedom, no matter how macabre your character is. The important thing is to give yourself to the artistic act, and to go as far as you can to look inside yourself for that human nature and lend it to the character. That is the most beautiful thing an artist can do.

D: Speaking of the macabre, did you and the cast do anything on set to sort of break up darkness?

MR: The cast was wonderful, excellent actors and excellent people. We really felt like a family so we had fun, and the atmosphere on the set was very collaborative. We were lucky to work with a director who really loves the actors and who is a great connoisseur of the genre, which really helped to make the atmosphere between the whole team and all of the actors super creative and exciting. So at the end of the day, I was going home with a super positive feeling.

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