POPULAR GUY: RHENZY FELIZ
Aug 28, 2020
In the new Netflix film ‘All Together Now’ a teen virtuoso learns the importance of hope, friendship, and leaning on her community. Based on the YA novel ‘Sorta Like A Rock Star’ by Matthew Quick, Rhenzy Feliz plays Ty, a close friend of Amber who helps to get things back on track and is even their for some of the musical moments.
Previously seen in Marvel’s Runways, the 22-year-old actor rose to fame as his portrayal of Alex Wilder and before that appeared in he last season of Teen Wolf and the Hulu original, Casual. The young actor spoke with Popular TV about ‘All Together Now’, the Cloak and Dagger crossover event, and what some fans may not know about him!
What are you watching right now?
These days, I mean literally maybe a couple days ago, just finished binge-watching Dave. I saw it in two days. That’s an FX show, which is actually really, really funny. I don’t know why I didn’t expect it to be, maybe because he’s a rapper and not necessarily a comedian. But I laughed hard a few times. Another show, I guess a more dramatic one, I’m sort of more than halfway through Ozark now, which I also started binging during the quarantine, and oh my god is it amazing. My roommate that I have is super into anime, and he got me into this new show called Demon Slayer. It’s relatively new, it’s like four years old. I loved that, so I’m sort of now starting to get into that world. But I don’t know, maybe. So yeah, those are the few things I guess.
Your new film ‘All Together Now’ looks amazing. What can you tell me about the film right now?
I can tell you I’ve seen it 72 times, neurotically, and I like the movie. Now, of course I go through and I nitpick every single blink and every choice that I made, and second guess everything. But, the film as a whole, because I’m not in the entire movie, I can sort of sit back and watch that easier than I could maybe Runaways that I’m a little bit more in. I think that the movie is genuinely such a beautiful film. I think it’s shot beautifully. I think Brett Haley, our director, did an amazing job. I think it’s written really well, it takes its time but it also moves. I mean, the movie’s short, I think it’s an hour 20 without credits. It’s a short movie, it moves, but at the same time I don’t feel like it rushes, and that’s something I guess tough to do when you’re trying to tell a story, explain who these people are, have an arc of people, and arc within the people, and it be and hour and 20. I think Brett did an amazing job. I think it’s a beautiful movie.
Is there a difference when you’re on the set of this film where it’s more almost romantic for you than being on Runaways?
Oh definitely. They’re very different types of projects. Runaways has a lot of other aspects to it. We’re telling a huge story with a lot of different people in it. There’s a lot happening, so we have to sort of let the audience know in a way, “All right, this is what’s happening, this is what’s happening,” because it can get confusing if you don’t explain it. Whereas in the movie we’re following one girl’s story, and it doesn’t have to do with superpowers, and it doesn’t have to do with saving California from cracking into the ocean. It’s something that’s so human and so real, it’s just she’s going through a tough time. She has a community around her, but it’s sometimes hard for people, especially specifically her character, but people in general, to accept help from other people. You sort of want to go through it on your own and prove to yourself that you can do it on your own. I think this movie shows that there’s beauty in accepting help in your community, in the people you surround yourself with.
Do you think that Ty is at all like you?
I always try to do a version … Well, not always, but I tried to do, with this, a version of me with a whole different life. He sort of talks the way I talk. Not necessarily the things he says, but the voice, maybe the cadence he uses is the same way that I sort of break up my sentences. But he’s a much shyer version than I am I think. I grew up moving around a lot, so I sort of had to learn how to make friends quickly and get out of my shell a little bit. It’s not that I’m super extroverted, but I can have a conversation with someone, whereas Ty can too, but I think in general he’s a lot more reserved of a guy than I am. He’s also more thoughtful than me I think. I don’t want to spoil the story but he’s a real nice guy.
When did you decide you wanted to act?
I think in my head I’ve always sort of wanted to do it. It’s never been a possibility for me. No one in my family in the arts. No one sings, no one acts, no one watches movies that way. No one says, “Wow, look at the acting in this,” but it’s just sort of… Well, I grew up playing sports, that was my thing. We’re Dominicans and in order to be a Dominican, you have to play baseball at one point in your life for you to call yourself one. And so that was sort of my life all the way up until I was about 15. My family, we moved up, my mom and my stepdad, we moved out here to LA when I was 15 years old, my sophomore year of high school. And even then, I didn’t know I wanted to act. They visited it, LA once, they loved it and said, “Hey, do you want to move?” And since I had just gotten to a new high school with a bunch of people that I didn’t know, I really didn’t care. Like, “Absolutely, let’s go to Los Angeles.” And so we came over and it wasn’t until about a year after that, that I started acting. I was 16 years old, 16, 17ish when I started acting. And I just fell in love with it. My friend who I met on the baseball team brought me to a improv class and that when I was 15 years old and I was like, “Oh my God, this is so much fun.” And I realized that in LA, there wasn’t such a stigma behind acting, guys doing acting. In Florida, I was very scared to because socially it’s weird if you’re the acting kid, you’re a guy and you’re acting at the theater. I quit the baseball team. I joined the play my junior year. And I literally that year, within the first week of rehearsals, I decided this is what I want to do the rest of my life. I love this thing and so I don’t look back since.
Do you ever see yourself in the characters now that you play from high school to being playing high school characters?
Interesting. I guess in a lot of ways there is. I had such a unique experience in high school where I got there, I struggled a bit with the academics because I think it was a little bit different from Florida to LA. And both of the people that I’ve played so far have been pretty smart in that regard in terms of book wise and stuff. Life is so different, but in a way, I do sort of see myself just in the trying to figure it out that all these kids are doing. Everyone’s trying to figure themselves out at that age. And I think acting was the thing that propelled me to find out who I was and what I loved and gave me a real sense of confidence in order to figure out what I like and what I want to do.
Do you ever take home pieces of your character with you?When we first started doing Runaways, I got super into Otis Redding and stuff like that, because they told us to make a playlist for our characters [the director of the pilot did]. So, I sort of made a lot of music and in finding music that I thought Alex would like, that’s when I found a lot of music that I ended up liking a lot too. So, I guess in a way, yeah, music tastes of the things I imagined for my characters, I sort of inhabit as well into my own life.
As Hulu released the third and final season a bit ago and knowing that you read the comics, is there any storyline that you wish you would have gotten to see in the show?
We sort of left some things on the table in the finale that I wish that we would have gotten to explore, yeah. There’s a whole Victor Mancha arc of the character that would come in, and that would have been really cool to play out. We did our own version of what was in the comics where in the comics, Alex turns, spoiler alert, on the gang and he sort of had this evil plot inside his head the entire time. And in the show we did this version where I get inhabited by one of the aliens, who’s a very evil being, and that was so much fun to get to play out. Seeing the reactions online of people was also super fun when that twist sort of happened. I had calls in from my cousins and Sam’s like, “Oh my God. Did not see that coming. It was so crazy.” So it was fun. I love it when people sort of freak out about this stuff because we put a lot of energy to it as cast and the crew, and everyone puts a lot of energy into these shows. You spend six months, it’s 13, 14 hour days you’re sitting there, and you’re thinking of ways to make things interesting and cool and alive and present. And it’s cool when people really get into it.
And how was the filming of the Cloak and Dagger crossover episode? What was the dynamic like on set?
Oh, that was so much fun. We actually got to spend a lot of time with them. I got to spend a little bit less because I was sort of out of those episodes, in terms of what the storyline was, but I got to really get to know Olivia and Aubrey a lot more, which was super cool. They’re such nice people. Such good humans.
Was there any Marvel film or show that you would have liked to see a crossover with?
Oh, man. I guess paycheck-wise I would have liked to be in the Infinity War movie. That would have been cool. That wouldn’t have been bad. If you were asking me and I had a genie in a bottle kind of thing, yeah, get me into Endgame. Let’s see what Alex can pull off.
Were you a pretty big Marvel fan at all before the show started shooting?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, such a huge company. They had already made so many of the movies. I was definitely a big fan. I had already been following. I’d been watching all of them. Because initially what came in for the audition was untitled Marvel project, and I knew it was TV and I knew it was for lead. And that was like, wow, imagine being the lead of a Marvel TV. That would be insane. And so just off seeing untitled Marvel thing, I was incredibly excited. I was a big fan of the company beforehand, of the production company beforehand. Yeah, it was like a dream to get to be a part of that world.
Now I have to ask, how did you feel about the ending of Endgame?
Well, that was painful, wasn’t it? That took the soul out of you. I’m interested to see where they’re going with it. I know they haven’t got to put much out and they have probably stopped filming a lot of what they were filming. But I know they always have a plan, those guys. I mean, if they were able to make the last 10 years of movies that they made, I know that they’ve got something up their sleeve for the next 10, too. But yeah, Endgame left me pretty ruined.
Outside of acting, what are you passionate about?
Oh, I did this just before I got on Runaways. We did the pilot and then I went traveling around Europe with my two best friends. I haven’t traveled since. That was the most amazing experience I’ve ever been on. We went all over. We went to Stockholm, Barcelona, London, Florence, and Greece. It was just such an amazing time. It was three weeks. We’d spend three or four days in each place. The thing is that my two best friends are the only people I want to travel with, because that’s what they say. I’ve never traveled with anyone else, but they say if you travel with someone, make sure that you’re compatible, that you guys can travel together. So if I could do anything, if you gave me a couple months off, which now technically, but they’re not letting any Americans in anywhere on the planet, and so I can’t. I wish that I could. If I’m passionate about anything else, it would definitely be about experiencing new cultures. It’s crazy just how different these places are. They’re still people, they still dress like us, they still eat like us. It’s just the way that they are, the way that the streets look, everything is so different. I love that. I love getting to experience something new like that.
Where would you want to go back if you got the chance?
Oh, that’s a tough one. We’ve already sort of planned out our second trip back, but we outlined it. We only did a rough outline, so I have to go back and do some edits. But if I had to pick a place to go back to out of all the ones that I went to, that’s tough. I don’t know. It’s a tie between Stockholm and I had a lot of fun in Greece. And Florence, the food. I love Italian food so much.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I speak Spanish. My first language was Spanish. I don’t know if people know that or not. I didn’t start acting until I was 16. I know I said that, but I don’t know if the audience will know that. It was before this interview kind of thing. My first car that I got was a stick shift, so I know how to drive a manual transmission car. For the movie, I had to actually drive a stick shift and it helped out a bunch because the director calls me right before we start shooting, like a week. He’s like, “Hey, do you know how to drive stick shift? And I know you probably don’t, but what are the odds? Do you?” And I was like, “Actually, yeah, I do. It was my first car.” And he was like, “Oh my God.” And so he was super excited because they had to either pick a car that he really wanted, he loved the look of it, but it was stick shift, or one that he was going to be okay with having in the movie, but it was auto transmissions, and so he got to pick the car he wanted so it all worked out.
What’s a fan question you always get asked?
I guess the question I get asked the most is if I could have any superpower what would it be? And so I have already crafted like the perfect answer, which I think has no holes in it. It’s the power of time. If I could control time, I could do so much with that power. If I slow down time and I walk around, all of a sudden I’m super-fast. I can teleport also. If I pause time and just move and then play it again, now I’m in a different place. So I get multiple powers out of this thing, out of the power of just controlling time. You get to redo things. You know how many times do you want to redo stuff? Like, “Oh, I wish I would have said that.” Now you get to say that. It’s a power that it encompasses all.