Born in the Windy City on January 17, 1975, the prolific Puerto Rican-American thespian Freddy Rodriguez cut his acting chops at Chicago's Lincoln Park High School, where he headlined a number of time-worn stage classics, including The Crucible, Twelve Angry Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird. He married his high school sweetheart, Elsie, and slid effortlessly into a cinematic career soon after graduation, taking his first official onscreen bow at the age of 19, as the younger version of Billy Wirth's prison parolee Terry Griff in the sobering and gritty 1994 drama The Fence. That feature lacked wide distribution and slipped by many, but no matter, for two highly coveted spots in A-list features followed the next year. Rodriguez portrayed Anthony Quinn's son, Pedro Aragon, Jr., in Alfonso Arau's lush 1995 romantic melodrama A Walk in the Clouds, and Vietnam vet Jose in The Hughes Bros.' period piece Dead Presidents, the Menace II Society follow-up about a young African-American man who drifts casually into a crime-infested life in the late '60s.
Countless spots in films of equal weight followed, including Can't Hardly Wait (1998), Payback (1999), and Chasing Papi (2001), but Rodriguez made his most enduring mark on the small screen, where he became a familiar face on a number of hit series. He appeared in three 1999 episodes of Party of Five, as Albert, the man who mugs Sarah and later rips her off, despite her vain attempts to befriend him. The spot was short-lived, but productive; the added exposure eventually led to Rodriguez's most prominent role. He entered the mind's eye of cable devotees everywhere by becoming a permanent fixture on the HBO/Alan Ball production Six Feet Under, a jet-black comic series about the Fisher family, proprietors of a Los Angeles mortuary. As Federico Diaz, a gentle, emotionally sensitive mortician-cum-partner, Rodriguez proved popular with audiences and helped to sustain the series throughout its five-year run. He followed this up with yet another minor role, on the Emmy-award winning NBC series Scrubs, as Nurse Carla Espinosa's (Judy Reyes) brother. The part entailed only fleeting, intermittent appearances, but left a memorable impression nonetheless.
Rodriguez temporarily reemphasized his silver screen work beginning in 2006, with tertiary roles in several prominent features. These include Valentin in Poseidon (2006), Wolfgang Petersen's disappointing remake of the 1972 Irwin Allen disaster pic The Poseidon Adventure; Reggie, a character restricted to only using half of his body, in M. Night Shyamalan's seventh feature, Lady in the Water; and a fleeting role as Jose in Bobby, Emilio Estevez's docudrama on the assassination of presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan in 1968.
In 2007, Rodriguez returned to television in a recurring role as sandwich vendor Giovanni "Gio" Rossi on the enormously popular Ugly Betty. He stayed on with the show into its third season in 2008, while also starring in and executive producing the holiday comedy Nothing Like the Holidays. Regular television work continued with a featured role on the short-lived CBS series Chaos and voice work on the animated sci-fi series Generator Rex.