Twitter Facebook Instagram Google+ Tumblr YouTube E-Mail WhatsApp Sign In Check Close snapchat
Search
Exit Clear

Who’s That Guy: Will Smith’s ‘Focus’ Sidekick, Adrian Martinez

Who’s That Guy: Will Smith’s ‘Focus’ Sidekick, Adrian Martinez:

Adrian Martinez is approaching Samuel L. Jackson screen saturation – albeit without the name recognition. For the last 20 years, the New York-based character actor has quietly appeared in all manner of films from unsung indies to major studio releases, making the most of characters with names like “Young Tough,” “Wancho,” “Beer Drinking Guy,” and “Male Nurse #1.”

“It begins with the script,” says the humble performer who also boasts a lengthy and prestigious theater resume. “I really break down the script and try to add my own sensibility and esthetic to it. Every script is different.”

Bearing out the fact that there are no small parts, just really big actors to go toe-to-toe with, Martinez has worked with some of the greatest directors alongside some of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood. He recently added yet another luminary to that list, playing Will Smith’s con artist cohort, the lewd and clever Farhad, in this past weekend’s release Focus. (Martinez has just as many small screen credits, but let’s save his tales of guesting on Louie and Gotham for a follow-up piece.) For now, he goes back through his filmography with Playboy to revisit his more – and less – celebrated roles.

“Man in the Mohair Sweater” - Pieces of April (2003)
“That was the first time I worked with Katie Holmes who was really sweet. It was one of those weird funky neighbors who has a lot of cats in his apartment. And she’s trying to get this turkey cooked. Her oven breaks down for the big Thanksgiving dinner. So she knocks on my door trying to get help and I kind of freak her out with my sense of oddness and a whole lot of cats in the house. It’s one of those slice of life people that you see.”

“Wolfy” - Planet Brooklyn/Men Without Jobs (2004)
“That was one of those indies you do, just trying to keep [your career] going and make relationships with people. What was the directors name? Mad Matthewz. He was a good guy. Mad, if you’re reading, give me a call. Let’s do something. He’s a hip-hop director kind of guy. He reminded me of John Singleton, just with better shades and outfits.”

Martinez Taxi

“Brazilian Man” - Taxi (2004)
Taxi was notable because it was a chance to work with Jimmy Fallon before he left acting to do his show. I remember Jimmy Fallon had to pull my hair in this one scene. I was like, ‘Jimmy, you don’t actually pull my hair. Just hold it and I’ll do the reaction to my hair being pulled.’ Because he was pulling the hell out of my hair and I was screaming in pain, 'This is not an actual hostage situation.’ My character was in this gang of robbers led by Gisele Bundchen. I remember her trying to teach me some Portuguese. I was in this car with her and she was trying to say, 'Abregado, abregado’” She kept mouthing the word. And I just kept asking her to say it because I just wanted to see her mouth the word. She is so gorgeous, it’s crazy.“

"Security Guard” - Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
“I don’t know if I’m still in it. I worked with Sidney Lumet more on an HBO TV movie called Strip Search. It never got released, but it was about 9/11 and the Freedom of Information Act. It had a great cast. He was terrific as a director: very understated, he shot very fast. A true genius. Just look at Twelve Angry Men. Twelve Angry Men was his first movie!”

Martinez Pelham

“Cabbie” - The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
“I play the cab driver that John Travolta is using to get away. I didn’t have a license to drive. And I still don’t. First of all, they bugged out: 'You don’t have a license? Really?’ – I think it was an all-LA film crew. It was supposed to be me driving the guy around. Instead of me driving around, they had the car stuck on the bridge in traffic, like, not moving at all. That’s when Denzel comes up to me like, 'Where’d he go?’ They had a double wear a curly wig for all of the b-roll stuff on the highway. I gotta get a license. It’s getting ridiculous.”

“Ginger Goon” - Kick-Ass (2010)
“It was supposed to be a reference to my ginger hair, which they dyed. I had a much larger role initially. It was a storyline where I was kind of like the security guard for Mark Strong’s character, as well as his cook. I’m based in his apartment. I’m arguing with his wife about how I cook. It’s funny and it’s irreverent, but it didn’t make the final cut. If you remember in the Godfather, he calls Michael Corleone over and he’s like [in full-on Brando], 'I’m going to show you how you make the soup. First you add a little sugar. You grill your sausages and your meatballs…’ Remember he was cooking this meal? The scene isn’t vital, but it adds a texture to the movie that’s really informative, making these mobsters into human people. I feel like, today, everything is about plot and slickness, and 'Let’s not bore the audience.’ But these scenes actually bring life and vitality to the movie. We need more of these nuanced scenes that are just about human behavior.”

Martinez Funny Story

“Johnny” - It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)
“That movie deserved a better fate. It was really a pleasure working with writing-directing team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Zach Galifianakis is a good guy. When I was in LA, he invited me over to Bradley Cooper’s house. They were just about to go to Thailand to do The Hangover III. And he just kept telling people, 'Have you seen [2004 indie Martinez-starrer] Mail Order Wife? You have to see Mail Order Wife.’ He kept trying to plug me to his high-end friends. He was really cool that way.”

“Big Dave” - Piranha 3DD (2012)
“I’ve retitled that movie Paycheck. There was absolutely no other reason to do that movie. My kid was in private school and I was paying alimony. So, I was like, 'Why not?’ I went down there with the best of intentions and the next thing you know, they were like, 'Hey, put this piranha in your butt.’”

“Julius” - American Hustle (2013)
“David O. Russell is a gentle sweet man who… [laughing] Sorry, I just got caught up on my own bullshit. Listen, it was a very difficult shoot. I did the best that I could under the circumstances. I got cut out of most of the movie. I was there, like, I dunno, six weeks. It was at the time of the bombing of the Boston marathon, so we were sequestered in Cambridge. No one could leave the hotel. I remember being in the make-up room and to my left was Jennifer Lawrence. To my right was Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, and Jeremy Renner. And I’m just, like, this guy that got lost in the wax museum.”

Martinez Walter Mitty

“Hernando” - Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
“Nobody works harder than Ben Stiller. He’d star in the movie, direct it, produce it, then go off and look at the editing, then come back the next day. Off the hook discipline and a work ethic that’s on another level. I met him eight years previously when I was doing Judas Iscariot at the Public Theater in New York, and he was doing a play by Neil Labute with Amanda Peet, and we were sharing the same dressing area. 'I hope to work with you one day. I love your work. Blah, blah, blah.’ Eight years later, we’re at the Kaufman Astoria Studios doing Walter Mitty.”

Martinez Spiderman

“Bodega Cashier” - The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
“I love the comic book genre. Andrew Garfield would come on and not be wearing the mask. We would rehearse and block the scene. Then it came time to shoot and the camera’s rolling. Then he’d pull the mask on, and I’d get chills, man! Whoa, it’s Spider-Man! He’s right in your face. It was trippy because of all of those times as a kid reading the Spider-Man *comic books and here he is. It took me a bit to shake that off and just be in the scene. Then I decided to just use that energy because that was my character; he was overwhelmed that *Spider-Man had come in and saved him.”

“Farhad” - Focus (2015)
“You know that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy is in black and white and she opens the door and everything is fantastical and in color. That was kind of it. Will Smith is a larger than life person. He really is. But at the same time he’s very grounded and genuine. He let me do my thing. That’s the most important thing as an actor. Every 20 million people, someone gets everything: looks, talent, intelligence – and that’s me. Over the next 20 million it’s going to be [Smith’s co-star] Margot Robbie.”


Playboy Social

Never miss an issue. Subscribe and save today!

Loading...