With a countenance that seemed to express street-smart grit, Hispanic-American actor Rick Gonzalez might have easily fallen into the trap of playing toughs time and again, as did many of his contemporaries. With an exception here and there, Gonzalez defied these expectations in the first several years of his career, racking up small roles in laudably unpredictable projects such as the wonderful Disney sports drama The Rookie (2002), the dance-themed comedy drama Roll Bounce (2005), and the Christopher Guest mockumentary For Your Consideration (as "Chillaxin' Host").
Born in Manhattan, Gonzalez reportedly sought out stardom from a very tender age, and made his cinematic debut in 1999, with a bit part in the movie Mambo Café. A steady stream of supporting turns followed over the next several years, with an average of two or three per year; Gonzalez hit a high point when he played the womanizing Primo in the coming-of-age drama Biker Boyz, starring Larry Fishburne and Luke Wilson. Gonzalez teamed with Steven Spielberg for a supporting role in the helmer's colossal sci-fi opus War of the Worlds (2005), and shifted gears slightly -- to the thriller genre -- for the movies Pulse and Illegal Tender. The latter gave Gonzalez his first major lead; in that film, he played a Latino man fleeing from thugs who murdered his dad.
On television, the actor first made viewers take notice when he played a student with a troubled family life on the David E. Kelley series Boston Legal. He went on to make one-episode appearances in such popular shows as ER, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Shield, but it wasn't until 2007's Reaper that he scored a regular small-screen role. On that quirky comedy drama, Gonzalez played slacker Ben, a friend of lead character and supernatural bounty hunter Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison).