Rudy Martinez Talks ‘Heartbeat’, Playwriting and Being Away From Acting for Two Years
“As soon as I get in the part and get my costume on and get in front of the camera, I don’t know, I don’t feel any nerves at all” – Rudy Martinez
Rudy Martinez starred on the just cancelled NBC show, Heartbeat, as the young intern Marty. The series, which is based on Dr. Kathy Magliato’s memoir, Heart Matters, followed the life of Dr. Alex Panttiere (Melissa George) and Marty is “kind of the sidekick” as she takes him under her wing.
Before he got the role, Martinez hadn’t acted in while because he decided to concentrate on other things. But he missed acting so much that he got back in the game and Heartbeat was the first audition he had. “It was pretty serendipitous,” he said.
I talked with Martinez (just before the show was cancelled) about his audition for Heartbeat, on-set nerves and his other love, writing plays.
What was your audition like for the show?
Rudy Martinez: I actually hadn’t been acting for a little while when I got the audition. So it was a pretty big deal for me. It was this really incredible scene actually with the main character. It was a very dramatic scene where my character was facing a medical issue himself, but he didn’t want that to let him get in the way of becoming a doctor, so I kind of had to play this whole other layer where he was happy on the outside but trouble was brewing on the inside. It was challenging.
I did the initial audition and I got a callback and then I went to a producers session. This was all within the span of a week. I went from not really acting to being on a plane to Canada to go film the pilot.
That’s crazy. You’re there just for the pilot?
Rudy Martinez: Yeah, just the pilot shot in Canada. We were up there in Vancouver for three weeks. It was all a very surreal experience.
You said you weren’t acting for a little while what were you doing?
Rudy Martinez: I’m an actor and I’ve been acting since I graduated college but I was actually working a tech job. So, I thought I wanted to maybe take different path. I guess and I thought I was gonna do something else for a little while and I realized I missed acting too much.
I think I stepped away from TV and film for maybe two years, I called a manager friend of mine and he was happy to take me on and immediately this part came up for Heartbeat and it was for the role of Marty. I knew I was perfect for it and I took a pretty seriously. I knew I was gonna get competitive with it. So, it was pretty serendipitous.
On your first day on set, especially after not doing it for a couple years, were you nervous?
Rudy Martinez: I was very nervous and I tend to get nervous with all aspects of acting that don’t deal with being on stage or being in front of the camera. I always want to make a good impression and sometimes coming to set for the first time, I don’t want to say the wrong thing around the director or I don’t want to look foolish in any way. But as soon as I get in the part and get my costume on and get in front of the camera, I don’t know, I don’t feel any nerves at all. And the same thing goes when I’m doing stage acting. As soon as I get on stage, all the nerves go away.
I would think one of the hardest things about Heartbeat is having to learn all that medical terminology and then saying it like you know what the heck you’re talking about.
Rudy Martinez: Yeah, it’s difficult but we are actually really fortunate to have so much involvement from Dr. Kathy Magliato, she’s the doctor who the show is based on. She’s always on set with us. She comes in to check in on us and if we have any questions about how to say things or how to do a medical procedure, she’s always there to help us along with other medical consultants.
It’s kind of a blessing and a curse also because we all want to ask her about like our daily lives and medical things that we have. I’m like, “Hey, I’ve got a headache. What is that?” And by the time you get home, you want to start making an appointment with your doctor because you think you’re dying. The show is not good for hypochondriacs.
I’m a total hypochondriac. I know exactly what you’re talking about. When you first get your script for an episode what’s the first thing you do to break down your scenes?
Rudy Martinez: Good question. The first thing I do is I try to read the whole script just to get a good idea of where my character is and what might be going on in his life when the scenes happen. So, I try to fill in the blanks and really just kind of do some research and put my foot on the gas and give my character a life around that scene. And then I take the scene in context of what’s happening in the story and my character’s life and try to just apply everything to that one scene.
You write plays as well?
Rudy Martinez: Yeah, I do like to write. I’ve had a couple of short plays produced by small theater companies here in LA and in some of my friends get together and we all produce stuff too. That’s something I’m looking forward to doing more of.
How long does it take to write? Obviously you’re so busy, when do you find the time?
Rudy Martinez: It happens in little pieces, I think. I have several ideas kind of forming right now and it’s kind of like there are clouds that are looming and every now and then if I get some inspiration, I’ll go to one idea and pull a little more from that and write a little bit and then a week later if I have more inspiration from another idea, I’ll go to my other idea and start writing a little more. So it happens little by little and it does take me a while.
I’m not really great at sitting down and making myself write for eight hours, which is something I want to get better at. I want to get more disciplined but for right now it’s coming in pieces. But I think that’s good because it gives me a lot of time to mull over something or come up with some good ideas.
Before you start writing do you have a basic plot in mind?
Rudy Martinez: I usually start with the concept of something and then I kind of let that sit for little while and then eventually the characters will eventually step into that. And from there, I have some great actor friends and I usually like to cast them in my head and I can hear their voices saying the dialogue. Some I’m not struggling to write somebody else’s voice. It’s kind of like oh so-and-so would say this and I kind of just write with their voice in mind. That’s the part I love, when I can just sit back and let the dialogue happen.
Do you write parts with you in mind or are you happy to sit back and watch other actors do your stuff?
Rudy Martinez: Yeah, I’m happy with other actors saying words that I’ve written. It’s funny, I’ve never actually written something for myself. Although I do like stepping into the shoes of other people. I like picking up the script and just pretending to be that other person. That’s always fun.
What’s the worst audition you’ve ever been on?
Rudy Martinez: Well, I pretty much crashed and burned in a theater audition once. I was auditioning for a play in LA and the casting director told us to bring in a special skill that was related to Circus arts, like miming are clowning. So, I chose clowning and since I did Commedia dell’arte in college, I thought that I would bring in a mask and kind of do a Commedia dell’arte routine. I get to the audition, I start doing my routine and maybe about a minute or two minutes in, the casting director tells me to stop, take off my mask and then he said, “I never want to see that again.” So needless to say I was pretty traumatized. That was one of the worst auditions I think I’ve ever had.