Seemingly coming out of nowhere, actor Ramon Rodriguez had a breakout year in 2009 when he appeared in two major Hollywood blockbusters, "The Taking of Pelham 123," director Tony Scott's remake of the 1974 thriller, and Michael Bay's big budget thrill ride, "Transformers: Rise of the Fallen." Prior to these roles, Rodriguez started out his career on series television, landing recurring roles on several acclaimed series, including "Rescue Me" (FX, 2004- ) and "The Wire" (HBO, 2002-08), both of which established him as a dramatic actor of note. Though Rodriguez had a shot as a regular performer on "Day Break" (ABC, 2006), the action series proved to be too short lived for him to make a name for himself. A true renaissance man, Rodriquez also made his mark in sports as the founder of Project Playground, a touring basketball performance group, and in music, as a member of the Abakua Latin Dance Company, making him one of the more unique and gifted performers to emerge in some time.
Born on Dec. 20, 1979 in Rio Padres, Puerto Rico, Rodriguez always considered himself to be a New Yorker after being raised by his parents in the Big Apple. After starting college at Wheeling Jesuit University, he later attended and graduated from New York University, where he played college basketball. In 2001, he formed a basketball player performance group called Project Playground, a younger, hipper Harlem Globetrotters team that entertained crowds before NBA games. Project Playground played halftime shows for the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks, as well as for NCAA champion schools University of Florida, University of Connecticut and Tennessee. An avid musician and dancer, Rodriguez also joined the Abakua Latin Dance Company in 2001, an internationally renowned salsa dance troupe that performed around the world.
While Rodriguez continued to be involved with both organizations, his acting career began in earnest in 2005, when he appeared as Kevin Vasquez in a two-episode arc of "Rescue Me" (FX, 2004- ), Dennis Leary's caustic dramedy about a dysfunctional crew of New York City firefighters struggling to make sense of their lives after 9/11. After landing an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ), he began working steadily in television from that point on, especially after becoming a regular on the short-lived thriller, "Day Break" (ABC, 2006). During the show's fourth season, he had a prominent recurring role in the acclaimed crime drama, "The Wire" (2002-08). Rodriguez played Renaldo, the lover of everyone's favorite gay stick-up artist, Omar Little (Michael K. Williams). On the feature side, he landed roles in the independently made "Ira and Abby" (2006) and "Bella" (2006) before landing more significant projects like the high-profile crime drama, "Pride and Glory" (2008), starring Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Jon Voight.
Rodriguez made the leap from supporting actor to action star with "Transformers: Rise of the Fallen" (2009), Michael Bay's bigger, louder and more incoherent sequel to his 2007 hit, "Transformers." His athletic background came in handy when it came to shooting the highly combustible popcorn film. For his audition, Rodriguez was asked by director Michael Bay to leap around his office for 90 minutes, screaming and shooting at invisible giant robots. It was the first time, the actor noted, that he left an audition drenched in sweat. Rodriguez did many of his own stunts on the often harrowing set of "Transformers," where one pivotal scene ended in injury when Rodriguez dislocated his shoulder as he was lashed to a pole and pelted with debris. Because the noise of fans required for the stunt was too loud for anyone to hear the actor's screams, the cameras continued to roll. Ironically, the take made the film's final cut. Prior to "Transformers" hitting screens, Rodriguez had a supporting role as an MTA dispatcher in the low-key remake of "The Taking of Pelham 123" (2009), starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta.