The first feature from writer/director Nicole Gomez Fisher "Sleeping with the Fishes', staring Gina Rodriguez, is a Latino comedy which captures one girl's journey of self-discovery and the dynamics of her zany family. With it's fair share of "ay dios mio" and "oy vey" moments, the film comes to life with colorful characters and one liners that can only be found in a Latino Jewish home in Brooklyn.
Gina how has life changed since 'Filly Brown' came out? Gina Rodriguez: It’s interesting because the struggle doesn’t end you just kind of fight a different fight and you have to keep trying. You’re only as good as you’re next job and hopefully I make my family and my friends proud.
Gina when it comes to taking on new projects do you try to find something different? Gina Rodriguez: Well first I look for an amazing script. It’s difficult to come across scripts that are empowering and inspiring one that’s going to be outside of the box. There’s nothing more exciting then finding a script that is challenging and for me ‘Sleeping with the Fishes’ came half a year after ‘Filly Brown’ and it was something different and it was an opportunity for a challenge and to play a character that is outside of my body type. I had to put on weigh for the role, I was outside my comfort zone because who like to be vulnerable and be a girly girl. Nicole Gomez Fisher: Gina would remind me everyday that she was fat cause of me but once we wrapped she went on a diet!
Nicole how much of this film was inspired by true events? Nicole Gomez Fisher: Well it was loosely based on my life, on my struggle with my mother and that mother daughter relationship. My Mother converted to Judaism when she married my father but still help on to her rosary. You write what you know because it's closer to home and it's a bit more intimate. My sister was thrilled about it, my dad was happy but it did take my mom a bit to warm up to it. She was a little disturbed about the character thinking it was a little to close to her but now it doesn't bother her and she couldn't be prouder.
Gina you also play a Latina Jew. Gina Rodriguez: Having Jewish ancestors myself it was so interesting to play a Latina Jew and we don’t see that very often. My Grandfather is a French Jew and my sister and her kids are fully Jewish. For me to play a Latina Jew I was like this is awesome, this is revolutionary, this is different and it’s also a beautiful story of a young woman’s struggle. It was just an opportunity to really stretch my wings. Nicole Gomez Fisher: There's so much of that side we don't see in Hollywood being half Jewish we grew up with christmas trees but had Jewish ornaments and my father would dress up as a hasidic Santa Claus it was a joke but it made us more comfortable .
Nicole how did you come to cast Gina? Nicole Gomez Fisher: I didn't know her but when we met in New York I just thought she was perfect, she was just like me. There was this dorky fun quality abut her that just knew the story and at moment knew I had taken the right person. She just has that thing and she's adorable and quirk and easy to work with.
This being a comedy was it easy getting into the humor of the story? Gina Rodriguez: I love comedy, comedy is where I get to be outrageous and make faces that I normally wouldn't because they aren't very attractive. I love, love, physical comedy I'm a huge fan. Growing up I used to watch Jim Carrey 'Ace Ventura Pet Detective' is my jump off and I love how much he was able to express himself and for me this film gave me the opportunity to do that.
How was it working with Ana Ortiz? Gina Rodriguez: I learned so much from Ana she's phenomenal actress and woman and her heart is so strong and so big. She so humble on set, she's so gracious and she made me feel like a star and makes me feel like a sister. Working with her is like being in a master class and Pricilla Lopez is such a goddess. I saw her in 'The Heights' about seven years ago and I said I'm going to work with that woman one day. Then when I found out that Pricilla Lopez took the role of my mom I was like "What!". The whole cast was super, super lovely and c'mon I got to make out with Steven Strait.
How was it working with Nicole Gomez Fisher? Gina Rodriguez: Nicole is wonderful. Nicole is a very talented writer and it's always a little nerve racking I can't lie but I've worked with first time directors before so I knew how to support a first time director. When before I was so lost in their hands because I was just learning. It gave me an opportunity to work hand in hand with Nicole sand allowed me to put my input when it came to being on set. I feel I was really blessed to be at the place I was at that time, I just can't wait to work with her on her next film. She's unstoppable, she's unstoppable now.
Nicole what can we expect next from you? Nicole Gomez Fisher: I have an action/comedy called 'Good Eggs' which is also loosely based on my life about an egg donor and their stalker. I can't wait for it.
'Sleeping with the Fishes' premieres at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival October 11th.