In A Christmas Proposal (premiering December 12), CBS’s first original holiday movie in more than a decade, network favorite Adam Rodriguez (Criminal Minds, CSI: Miami) leads a Latinx cast as Seattle bachelor Julian Diaz. With a promotion to managing partner at his family’s law firm on the line, he strikes a deal with his ride-share driver—an aspiring chef named Maria (All Rise’s Jessica Camacho)—to pose as his girlfriend and help make him a more “mature” candidate in his father’s eyes. Watch an exclusive sneak peek above to see their characters get to know each other.
Here, the actor dishes on the fun of filming a Christmas movie in the summer, his mother’s feelings about Bobby Diaz, the philandering politician he plays on NBC’s Ordinary Joe, and hosting the new HBO Max reality series Finding Magic Mike (premiering December 16).
What did you love about the story of A Christmas Proposal?
Adam Rodriguez: Julian is like so many people who get tunnel vision: We become immune to other things around us. This woman comes into his life by chance and awakens him and his family to what’s really important. Essentially, it’s a romantic comedy set during Christmas time.
I thought I noticed a few clever nods to Pretty Woman, whether or not they were intentional.
Well, I’d be lying if I told you that when I first read the script that film didn’t cross my mind. That’s one of my favorite romantic comedies. Even my character, just as an archetype, there are parallels to Richard Gere’s, for sure: two guys who are completely focused on work and thinking that life is only about one thing, not even realizing what they’re missing out on until somebody who seems like they have a whole lot less comes along and [shows them]. Certainly in Pretty Woman, he woke up in time, and in A Christmas Proposal, he wakes up in time.
You’re also an executive producer on the film. What kind of input did you have behind-the-scenes?
The script was written for an Anglo family initially, and CBS had the foresight to want to make it about a Latin family. There was some work that had to be done to just make that authentic. [Director Martin Wood] and I dug in on the script and had conversations with the cast, and everybody really made some great contributions, especially Jessica.
We focused on staying away from accents. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but that’s just so much of what’s presented [on TV] that I thought it was important to show something different. So many Latin families in the country are not first generation families. Plenty of people in my own family have accents, but I’m fourth generation on my mother’s side, and third on my father’s. It was just important to also show that there are Latin families that have existed in this country for generations. A distinctly American family that was of Latin descent, the same way you would watch any other family that was American, who might have German descent, or Scandinavian descent, whatever it is, and you’re not expecting to hear an accent.
Also warmth amongst the family. We tried to find places to include that naturally, while still making an effort to keep the conflict that existed, this divide between the two brothers and the father that they couldn’t quite get close to.
Maria and Julian spend a day building their dating “history.” You went snowshoeing for the first time!
We filmed in summer [in Vancouver], so we had to go pretty high up a mountain to get some real snow. It’s not as difficult as we had to pretend it was—but it is possible to stumble. It is awkward walking with, like, a size 32 shoe attached to your boot.
Let’s switch gears from Julian Diaz to Bobby Diaz for a moment. Your Ordinary Joe costar Elizabeth Lail recently told us about a teamster driving her to set who had some opinions to share about her character, Jenny. Bobby is shady. Have you gotten strong reactions from teamsters, fans or anyone else?
How about from my mother? [Laughs] Yeah. I got a call from my mother and she is like, “I don’t feel good about you right now. I don’t like what you’re doing,” as the character, of course. It’s always funny to me how invested people get. It’s a testament to how good the storytelling is. If that’s happening, you’re doing a good job.
Well, I feel like your mom is going to like A Christmas Proposal, because Bobby turns out to be a very good guy.
I think my mom’s going to love A Christmas Proposal. [She] was huge a fan of Jessica Camacho before we started. We’re in a time now where everybody could use a little smile and some feel-good, and I have to redeem Bobby Diaz. [Laughs] So hopefully Julian Diaz will redeem Bobby Diaz. And if that doesn’t work, then go watch Adam Rodriguez on Finding Magic Mike.
Yes, you’re also a host/mentor on that competition series, inspired by the Magic Mike movies. Why was that important to you?
I wanted to share the brotherhood we felt on set when we were making those movies. I really learned so much about the limits that I could push my body to, the joy of dancing. I’d never done choreographed routines before, and I had to dance in front of, well, essentially millions of people, but thousands in a room in nothing but a G-string. These things sound really funny and they are, but they’re also scary. When you push through them and you realize the freedom that you find, they’re revelatory moments. I just wanted to make sure that the spirit of that lived within the show, because I know that that is really the heart and soul of that brand—being the best man that you can be.
You think it’s going to be about watching naked men dance, but in reality, it’s about growth, about being stuck in this world that really seems at the bottom of toxic masculinity, and, in reality, it’s the complete opposite: It was all these guys that are trying to find that way to be better, and helping each other along the way. Finding Magic Mike is about these guys that really have sort of either lost their way in life, or had it at one time and are trying to circle back to it, or never had it and are trying to find it. And they’re willing to take a big chance and put themselves on national television and be really vulnerable in a lot of ways that are going to be funny and heart-wrenching and heartwarming. I just think people are really going to be surprised by how much heart the show has. There’s so much heart and soul.
Will we see a Christmas number?
No. You’ll have to watch A Christmas Proposal to get your Christmas fix, Finding Magic Mike to change your life. [Laughs]
A Christmas Proposal, Movie Premiere, Sunday, December 12, 8:30/7:30c, CBS