Miami-born Genesis Rodriguez got into acting only after giving robot-building and softball a try. “Once I did acting, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is amazing, this is too good to be true,” she recalls.

When she told her father, the popular Venezuelan singer-actor José Luis Rodríguez, that she’d found her calling, he agreed to let her pursue acting only if she agreed to take it seriously. After two years of intensive lessons, 16-year-old Rodriguez landed a gig at the first audition she attended. Today, at age 24, after cutting her teeth in soap operas, Rodriguez has transitioned to the big screen with a bang. She’s in the action-adventure thriller Man on a Ledge, which hit theaters in January, and stars alongside Will Ferrell and Gael García Bernal in March’s Mexican cartel comedy Casa de mi Padre.

We caught up with Rodriguez to chat about the usual Hollywood-starlet topics: sports, food and welding.

So I was in your hometown of Miami the other day and was excited to stop at Versailles to get a croqueta preparada.

Aw, you are killing me, man. I can taste it right now. I don’t know if you had the chicken or the ham croquetas, but with a little lime and some soda crackers? Oh … so good.

Where did your name come from?

I came in the beginning of my parent’s relationship, in the first year after they were together. They weren’t planning for me, and I was the beginning of their new family and new life. It’s weird, because people ask if my parents are Peter Gabriel fans or ultra-Catholics.

Your mother is Cuban, but you’ve never been able to visit there?

Never. I’m dying to go. My grandfather used to tell me that there is this one corner where people go to just talk about baseball. They fight and they get so passionate about the players that left and the players that are there. I have to live that once in my life.

Are you into sports?

I live and die for the Miami Heat. I have been a fan since I was 3 years old, when the team started. I was there in the Rony Seikaly days, in the Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning days. I’m a real fan, not one who jumped onto the bandwagon with LeBron. But I don’t care. I love that they hate us. I love it. Bring it.

If this acting thing doesn’t work out for you, sportscasting might be a good backup plan.

[Laughs] You know, I talk to guys more passionately about sports than anything else. They’re like, “What kind of breed of woman are you? You’re not normal.”

Did you play sports growing up?

I did swimming, and my grandfather wanted me to do softball. I had to practice catching the ball. This girl didn’t realize I had no idea what I was doing, and she threw the ball to me, and it landed straight on my head. I had a mark from the stitches in my head. So I decided, forget sports. I was interested in things like science and math. I used to build robots.

Like, at home?

No, in a robotics team. [Laughs] I used to weld, and I used to work out the pneumatics of a robot. I was really good at that. But I still didn’t know what to do with myself. And then one day I was like, “Forget it, guys. I want to act.”

You’ve been busy with that. You filmed Man on a Ledge in Manhattan?

I really respect New Yorkers. We filmed in October to the end of January, and we had a really bad couple of snowstorms. Literally, it was an adventure to find food. I was on 42nd and 11th, and we went to Times Square, which was covered in snow. I didn’t want to eat at T.G.I. Friday’s, so we had to walk I don’t know how many blocks to find a decent restaurant.

Tell me about this Will Ferrell movie you have coming out.

It’s a full-blown Will Ferrell comedy. It’s kind of like a Robert Rodriguez movie with Anchorman, while tripping on acid. And it’s all in Spanish.

How was Will Ferrell’s Spanish?

It was wonderful. I thought we were going to stick to the script, like he was going to learn everything phonetically, and this guy starts busting out in improv. I was like, “What are you doing? When did you learn Spanish?” He was doing his thing. He is so amazing.

If you had a day off, what would you do?

I would definitely plan where I’m going to eat, because food is very important to me. I’d watch reality television and ... I don’t know, I’m kind of boring actually. I like food, I like sports, and I like bad TV. That’s pretty much it.

I don’t know if that qualifies you as boring or awesome.

[Laughs] You expect daring, or an intellectual response about reading a book or something. But nah, I’m just like you.

Yeah, but you could also build a robot or something.

I desperately want to get back into welding. I think I might have a career in that, too.

Did you wear one of those big masks?

Yeah, the mask, the gloves, and I did two types of welding: the one where you just shoot, and the one where you have separate copper you have to melt on there. The odor that you get from the metals is so hard to get off, but to me, it smells so good. Maybe we could think about a part for me where I’m a mechanic. Or maybe we could think about a movie part where I build robots.

Wait, in Flashdance, wasn’t she a welder?

Yeah, she was! There you go! Dancing and welding, that’s a good time.

(This story originally appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of ANTENNA.)