Rudy Martinez
Rudy Martinez stars in NBC's "Heartbeat." (David Muller)

Rudy Martinez, actor and activist

Rudy Martinez, who plays young intern Marty in “Heartbeat,” won’t have difficulty finding a new project now that NBC’s freshman medical drama has been canceled.

When Martinez isn’t acting, he might be creating puppets or writing for the theater. Or he might be busy with an eclectic mix of hobbies, including playing ukulele or restoring his furniture finds from antiquing. He’ll definitely be working to make Hollywood more diverse.

I recently spoke with Martinez about “Heartbeat” and its “Permanent Glitter” episode, acting and his other interests. We also talked about the diversity work he’s doing with his husband, Ryan Slattery, VP of production and development at Collab.

“Heartbeat” ends its run at 8/7c May 25. This interview was completed before the cancelation was announced.


Did you ever think that while playing a doctor on TV you’d have to dance like you did in the “Permanent Glitter” episode?

That’s so funny. I usually end up in situations like that. I’m not a trained dancer but I’ll get cast in a play or in this case a show where there’s a dancing episode, so I have to spend all night learning how to do this dance. But to answer your question, no, I didn’t expect I would end up dancing.


It looked like a lot of fun.

It was. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Once you get it down and you can do it over and over again—because you do take after take after take—it actually becomes a lot of fun. And everyone’s doing it so if you mess up a little bit, you can kind of blend into the crowd. There’s a little bit of leeway because we’re [playing] interns. We’re not the best dancers anyway, so we can afford to be kind of silly with it and mess up a little bit.


I like the fun vibe of the series along with serious topics.

Yeah, definitely. It’s not your standard medical procedural. It’s really heavy on the character development I think.


What do you like about playing Marty? What’s cool about Marty?

I think he’s a little bit of a wild card. In this show there’s the love triangle going on between the main three doctors and so that’s like heavy on the romance.

But then I come in and it’s usually a surprise as to what I’m going to be doing. In the last episode I’m hopping on this bouncy ball thing. I didn’t expect to be doing that. Or I’ll be helping out on an operation or something so the writers kind of use me for a little bit more fun. I get to play around with my part and basically ham it up.


I interviewed Dave Annable in your home town, Pasadena. What is it like for you to work with these very experienced TV actors?

When I first found out I got the part I had to be on a plane pretty much the next day to go to Canada to film the pilot. It was such a fast process. All of a sudden I find myself at the table read with these well-established actors like Dave Annable and Melissa George. There were a lot of nerves for me. But they’ve been so welcoming and so kind. The star-struck feeling kind of goes away immediately because they are just so friendly. That’s been one of the most wonderful things about the show—everybody kind of just becomes a big family. I’ve made some lifelong friends on this show and it’s been such a positive experience. Even the crew has been so wonderful. I don’t know if that’s something that you see on every show, where everybody just develops such a good rapport. After the first couple of days it was really easy to feel like one of the family.


Somebody once told me TV actors become successful because they show respect for everyone else. They’re nice to everyone else and are not divas. That leadership makes everything so much better.

Oh yeah, it definitely does. I just love watching their process, too. Seeing how they prepare and seeing what they do in the morning before a shot and how they handle a long day on set. There’s a lot to learn there and it’s just really inspiring.

Rudy Martinez (far right) with his "Heartbeat" castmates. (Photo courtesy Rudy Martinez Twitter)
Rudy Martinez (far right) with his “Heartbeat” castmates. (Photo courtesy Rudy Martinez Twitter)

Your background is in theater?

I went to college and I got a BFA in theater and then once I graduated and started doing work in LA full time. I did a lot of theater. I actually still do theater. I recently did a play with East West Players. They are committed to producing diverse plays. That’s also one of my personal missions, to seek work that promotes diversity in LA and Hollywood and theater in general.


You must be happy on this show because this is a really diverse cast.

I am. It’s nice to see the diversity in this show and knowing that I’m a part of it.


The “Permanent Glitter” episode we talked about shows that, too. For a new show to tackle a storyline like that is impressive.

I’ve noticed that the writers are really striving to branch out and find different perspectives. We’re bringing this show to a general audience and we don’t know who’s going to latch on to what storyline. Even though somebody might not like a certain storyline, it’s important to bring a new perspective and to bring many different viewpoints to the general audience. That episode guest starred Candis Cayne, a trans actress and activist. We have some episodes coming up that are also going to provide an interesting perspective. I’ve been really enjoying the writers and how they strive to do that.


That episode seems so timely because of the current freakout about all-inclusive bathroom policies.

Exactly. It is timely, especially now with this bathroom thing in North Carolina. But I think what this episode is doing is it’s just giving you a little piece of something that you might not have known about and giving you a look into somebody else’s shoes.

In the long run it might just start to hopefully change the kind of collective consciousness and just get people to realize that other people might be living a different life than you. That’s just one of the things that this episode hopefully will have achieved.


Tell me about meeting Dr. Kathy Magliato. The show is based on parts of her life and experiences.

She’s wonderful. She’s charismatic. When you meet her she doesn’t seem like a doctor; she seems more like a rock star. She has a really energetic personality.

When I first met her I realized that’s where this character came from, this Alex Pantierre character. Just really energetic and she’s great. We’ve been having live tweet sessions at her house every week. I’m going over tonight to live tweet the East Coast feed. She’s just opened up her house to the cast and producers and crew members.

This has no doubt been an incredible experience for her having her life kind of opened up. This show is loosely based on her and has a lot of the characters and storylines based on real people in her life and real things that have happened in her life. I think she’s just enjoying the experience and I’m enjoying being along for the ride.


Have you had to get medical procedure tips from her?

If she sees something wrong she will immediately tell you that’s not how you hold that tool or something. One thing Kathy told us, and you’ll see this across the board in every medical show: Even when in the operating room there will be a doctor with a stethoscope around his neck. Now why do you need a stethoscope in an operating room? The patient is hooked up to several machines that can tell you the heart rate and stuff like that. It’s just a thing that actors like to do to seem official. Kathy will tell you—in the nicest way possible—don’t do that. A real doctor wouldn’t do that.


You have puppetry experience, play the ukulele and restore old furniture, among other things. That’s quite a diverse set of hobbies. Tell me about each.

[Laughs.] Well, I studied some puppetry in college. It was kind of a self-study because my college didn’t offer classes on it. But I got a grant to do an undergraduate research project. So I did a lot of research into puppetry and I ended up doing my own show, which involved shadow puppetry and other types of puppets as well. After college people just started asking me to build puppets for their theater shows. So that kind of became my thing for a while.


That’s so cool.

I recently did a full production of a modern retelling of Pinocchio where I basically operated a puppet and provided the voice for this Pinocchio puppet. It actually takes three people to operate one puppet, so it’s very intricate. The end result is that people kind of forget that there are humans there and you just focus on the puppet. It’s kind of a magical.


These are the big puppets that you did and not the hand-up-the-skirt type of thing?

[Laughs.] When I tell people I do puppets I think they kind of get this image of me like being at home in my bedroom paying with my sock puppets. It’s not that at all. I would hope that people can kind of get to see some of the really cool bigger puppets. They’re really cool.


Rudy Martinez
Rudy Martinez holds the Pinocchio puppet from Rogue Artists’ “Wood Boy Dog Fish.” (Rogue Artists Instagram)


What got you interested in the ukulele?

It kind of goes along with my college experience. We did some clowning in college and my dad bought me this ukulele because he thought it would be a funny little instrument to learn. So I ended up getting cast here in LA in the Independent Shakespeare Festival in Griffith Park and they wanted me to play the ukulele. I kind of taught myself how to play it over that summer and I’ve been playing it ever since. It’s just kind of a hobby of mine. It’s something that I do when I’m bored or if I have a little song idea I’ll write it down and play.


That’s great. It’s just another creative outlet. You write plays as well?

I do. I’m working on a play right now. I recently had a meeting at a small theater with some friends and I’m working on finishing that. Hopefully getting it on its feet and we’d be doing a full production of it. 


That’s awesome. I don’t restore old furniture, but I like to hunt for antiques. I’m right with you on that hobby.

Oh, awesome. I love doing that. I love going to estate sales and flea markets. It’s really fun. I feel like Indiana Jones or something if I find a really cool thing. If I find a really cool end table or an antique of some kind and get to take it home for like practically free. 


We talked a little bit earlier about diversity, but with the current beef in Hollywood being the “bury our gays” issue, I wanted to get your take on that in relation to this scholarship you and your husband have set up to help LGBT writers.

We’ve set up a scholarship at UCLA. It’s for writers in TV, film, theater and the scholarship goes to a piece of work that portrays representations of LGBT people positively or issues in a positive way. We read a lot of scripts and plays and we pick one that kind of advances themes of social justice and equality and just portrays the LGBT community in a unique and positive way. It’s great because, like I said, we get to read a bunch of scripts every year and we get to meet the recipient and that’s always an honor just hearing their story, seeing what inspired them to write about LGBT issues and issues of equality. It’s always a joy and an honor to do that every year.


Rudy Martinez
Rudy Martinez stars in NBC’s “Heartbeat.” (David Muller)

What are some of your career goals?

I love TV. I just love being on a show where you get to go to work every day and see the same people. So I think I want to continue doing that. And then in terms of like the type of TV, I don’t know. I think I really love comedy. I’d love to keep doing that and develop that. I’d love to get on a show that kind of showcases really quirky people, offbeat types, geeky people. I’m kind of a little bit of a geek myself. I love “Star Wars” and “Game of Thrones.”


I saw on your bio you like Power Rangers.

Yeah, definitely. I think I’d just like to do something like that. I haven’t really done a lot of films so I’d really love that. I’d love to go to Sundance or South by Southwest and be in a really great independent film or a film circuit film that can showcase me well.


Have you found a best bud on the show?

I think that would be my counterpart intern Lynn, who’s played by Caitlyn Larimore. We’re always in the same scenes together, so we tend to have a lot of fun on set. In between scenes we will steal an NBC golf cart and go exploring on the Universal Studios backlot, which is always fun.


That’s great for a guy who’s a self-professed geek.

Oh yeah, definitely. We’ll take pictures at the “Jaws” attraction or we’ll run from the trams—the studio tour. It’s a lot of fun.


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