Cooking up a Hollywood storm, JUAN RIEDINGER has been landing roles left and right–but now, he’s only adding more fuel to the fire as he continues to build an acting repertoire of eclectic proportions.
Born and raised in the quaint town of Banff, Canadian actor and director Juan Riedinger didn’t always have his heart set on an acting career. While trudging through double degrees in Biology and English on his third year of college, Juan had taken on a Drama course as a cursory elective. But what he had hoped would be an easy class filler for a year soon turned into a lifelong pursuit. A summer after his elective, he made a home of his car and hit the road less traveled all the way to the City of Angels to audition for any role that he could. “During that period, I somehow tricked myself into believing I could make a living as an actor, and I haven’t looked back since,” he fondly recalls.
The Hollywood dream is no light endeavor, and while fortune favors the bold, only pure talent could have sent Juan into the trajectory he’s been riding through for the past year or two, gracing projects with his rugged looks and undeniable acting chops one after the other, both on the big screen and small screen–a platform divide he refuses to differentiate. “My job is simply to find truth in the scene, to breathe life into the text, and to be malleable if I need to be. That doesn’t change whether I’m doing a TV show or a movie. Television has also become such a cinematic medium in recent years, so the line has definitely blurred between the formats.”
A notable recent role that’s put his name on the map was his stint on American crime drama Narcos, based on the life of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Juan called the opportunity to play Colombian drug lord Carlos Lehder a dream job while reminiscing on his time on set located in places all over Colombia and Panama, unbeknownst to the worldwide success the show would eventually gain. “They had me fly a small airplane for one scene for what seemed like an eternity but was probably thirty seconds. And no, I don’t have a pilot’s license. So that was probably the biggest rush of my life.”
“My job is simply to find truth in the scene, to breathe life into the text, and to be malleable if I need to be. That doesn’t change whether I’m doing a TV show or a movie.”
A flurry of projects came pouring in soon after. Eager diversify his portfolio of characters, Juan landed himself starring roles on It Stains the Sands Red and Drawing Home. The former has Juan walking dead in a zombie apocalypse as Smalls, a bloodthirsty zombie who undergoes a not-so-usual coming-of-age experience when his pursuit of a woman turns into an unlikely relationship in the middle of the Las Vegas desert. “One of the biggest challenges was tapping into his human and sympathetic side without the use of words,” he says, adding to the long hours of make-up application needed for the role. Meanwhile in the latter film, Drawing Home, Juan does a 180 and dawns the trope of the romantic artist, dramatizing the real-life love story of Canadian landscape painters Peter and Catharine Whyte. Drawing Home marks Juan’s first biopic; he cites the added pressure of playing a famous individual but is also grateful for the perks attached to it acting-wise. “I was lucky to have access to a wealth of research materials, including journal entries, photographs, and even voice recordings, which were crucial in helping me get a sense of who Peter was on the inside and out.”
Although a veteran of the business, the actor points out that he likes to keep things fresh and exciting–if the wild differences of his film roles isn’t enough indication. “As
far as acting goes, the less recognizable I am (physically and/or behaviorally) from one role to the next, the better.” Juan says, stressing the importance of variety and seeing to it that he constantly broadens the range of the genres he takes on to avoid the curse of being type-casted into one role. When it comes to directing, Juan enforces the same search for diversity but reveals that despite this, he tackles the two professions in completely different manners. “I approach directing from a much more cerebral place than I do acting,” he explains. “There are so many moving parts when you’re directing, and you have to keep the big picture in mind at all times. As an actor, it’s a much more subjective experience, so I rely on my instincts and my gut more than my brain.”
Jumping from acting to directing to being a family man, Juan’s got his hands full and he’s showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. He currently has a recurring role on the second season of the seductive TNT drama Good Behavior as Teo, stirring things up for the rest of the show, and adding to the limitless bevy of characters he’s portrayed. A list that will only continue to grow as Juan continues to carve out his name on and off screen for all the world to see.