Radek Lord, 20, was born in Costa Rica and lived here until he was eight years old; after living in both Belgium and the United States (Ohio and California), he is now beginning an acting career in Hollywood. The actor, who first appeared onscreen at the age of four, has had several small roles in movies such as “A Kind of Murder” and “Girlfriend’s Day,” in which he worked with Bob Odenkirk from “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad.”
On a warm, sunny morning, The Tico Times sat down and spoke with Lord about his life and work. Excerpts follow.
Why did you choose acting?
Maybe it was because my mom made me act in a commercial when I was four years old. It was just one time, and I fell in love with it. It’s fun to act out another person. You can transform yourself. I like the challenge, the thrill. Before acting, you get a bit of nervous energy. It’s the same feeling that you get when you’re doing bungee jumping or skydiving. It’s the adrenaline that you get and being able to make other people laugh or cry. I haven’t yet been given a role that’s very challenging, but I’ve had small roles that are fun. I’m still waiting for that role that’ll put me out there.
How are you able to evoke those emotions in people through your acting?
I’ve taken a lot of different acting classes in Los Angeles, but it’s something that you feel in the moment. When you’re filming, it’s something that just happens to you. You can’t practice it; it just happens within you. Humans empathize with what’s happening to other humans. If you see something that you feel is true, that is actually happening, then you’ll laugh, cry or feel what the character’s feeling onscreen because humans naturally empathize.
When you watch “The Hunger Games,” you know the actors aren’t really feeling those emotions, but then you watch something like “Interstellar.” There’s a part in which Matthew McConaughey doesn’t say a thing: he simply just starts crying, and you start crying without even noticing it because you truly think it’s happening.
What is your process to create a character?
There are different schools of thought for that. Some people who say you should completely immerse yourself in the character, and others say you should just keep a distance from the character. I haven’t played such a deep character in whom I can lose myself, so I like to keep it light. When I get into character I think about how I can help everyone else look good, and that way they make me look good at the same time.
I like to read the script many times. If it’s a big character I read the script five times through to see what purpose he has in the script, what he does in the story, why he does certain things, and make up a backstory if he doesn’t have one already… so that when people look at me and see someone who’s a full character and doesn’t have anything missing when you see him. But you can do a lot of work and research and have someone in mind until you actually get there on set and you’re working with everyone else. For the audition for Peabody for “Girlfriend’s Day,” I had a different character in mind until I actually got to the set and started working with Bob [Odenkirk]. I completely threw that character out and started from scratch in front of them and kind of found the character through everyone else while I was working with them.
Is acting an excuse to have multiple lives?
It’s super fun! I’ve played bullies. I’ve played nerds. I’ve played really energetic kids. I’ve had characters who cry on camera. It’s so much fun living a life different than yours because you get to look at the world differently. You learn a lot more about yourself as a person. You get bits and pieces from all of these different characters that make you into who you are and define you as a person, which is cool.
Playing bad guys is fun. That’s my favorite… I get to stretch myself so much more. I think it’s easier to play characters who are not like you, because that way there’s a complete distance between you and the character.
How has living in different countries influenced your acting process?
Costa Rican culture is completely different culture than Belgium’s; Belgium’s is completely different from Ohio and California. It’s as if you have a third-person view of each. In Los Angeles the culture is more relaxed compared to Costa Rica. In Belgium, people are living life more easily. I can use all these different cultures to get inspired. It’s like character hunting. If you meet a person who’s very different, as an actor you think of him or her as a great character for a movie. You save them in your pocket for later. Living in different places has given me different perspectives from distinct people that I can use for acting.
Our “Weekend Arts Spotlight” presents Sunday interviews with artists who are from, working in, or inspired by Costa Rica, ranging from writers and actors to dancers and musicians. Do you know of an artist we should consider, whether a long-time favorite or an up-and-comer? Email us at [email protected].