10/24/2013 11:14 am ET

Rosie Perez On 'The Counselor' And Reminiscing About 'White Men Can't Jump'


If you've never peeked at Rosie Perez's Twitter account, here's a brief breakdown of what you'll find there: zero mention of her new movie, "The Counselor," starring Michael Fassbender and directed by Ridley Scott; a lot of tweets about boxing. Actually, it's pretty much entirely about boxing. Which is kind of weird, until you realize that nothing from Rosie Perez comes as it's expected. (But, be careful if you block her on Twitter -- she will remember.)

In "The Counselor," Perez plays Ruth, a convict who is represented by Fassbender's title character, whose real name is never mentioned in the film. Ruth makes life difficult for The Counselor after he's involved in a drug deal gone bad. Cheetahs are involved, too. (In a nutshell: "The Counselor" is a very bizarre movie.)

Speaking to Rosie Perez is, frankly, a delight. She's dynamo of energy and just seems like someone who is genuinely pleased to be doing what she does for a living. As she admits, though, she's picky about choosing her roles. Perez doesn't want you to have any idea what you might see from her next. It's a career blueprint that has guided her from "Do The Right Thing" to "White Men Can't Jump" (which she says Wesley Snipes predicted, "This shit is gonna be big") to "Pineapple Express" and beyond.

You just tweeted from NBA headquarters. Is that where you are right now?
I just left! I'm new on Instagram and I didn't realize that you had to turn the volume up on your phone to record.

Your character in "The Counselor" is a badass.
Yeah, I'll say.

Did Ridley Scott call you for the part?
No. I fought for that. My management office called me and said, "There's a script and everyone is saying that you're not right for it, but I think you're going to like it." So, I read the script and I loved it. He said, "Rosie, do you want to fight for it?" And I said, "100 percent." And I had to do it quickly, too, because they were about to hire somebody ... and I already had it in my mind that she's a badass and she's a boss. They just said, "She's in charge." And I said, "Got it."

Who was saying that you weren't right for it?
They say that all the time. And it's so funny because people say, like when "Fearless" came out, "Oh, that was such a different role for you. That's so crazy." And then I do "The Take" with John Leguizamo and it's, "Oh my God, that was such a different role for you." Then I do Broadway, "Oh my goodness!" So, it happens to me all the time and I don't take it personally. If I took it personally, I would be cuckoo and have a pity party -- and that's not who I am. So when I hear that, I just go, "OK" -- and if I want it I fight for it and if I don't, I let it go.

Wouldn't it be worse if people thought everything you did was the same? That you're not pigeonholed?
Well, that was very calculated on my part. I was just talking to someone and he said, "I just have a feeling you say 'no' more than you say 'yes.'" And I said, "Yes, that is very true." I do say "no" more than I say "yes." There's a ton of stuff that comes down the pipe my way and I'm very grateful that people want me in their projects and stuff like that. I'm very fortunate. And, in the same breath, you go, "Really, people? C'mon, no, I'm not going to do that." And I'm not trying to be calculating because I don't want to be pigeonholed -- no actor wants to be pigeonholed -- but it's more that I want to be part of things that are good. Maybe a movie comes out and it's not that great, but I did my best work. I always try to do my best work.

Are there any parts you turned down that you regret?
There was only one, as a participant in... oh, what was the movie? I guess it's not that important [laughs]. I don't remember the movie, but, I remember when it came out, sitting in the theater going, "Ugh."

Who was in it?
It was Drew Barrymore, she was the lead. I forgot what it was. It was a long time ago.

With the movies you do say "yes" to, when you're on the set of "Do The Right Thing" or "White Men Can't Jump" or "Fearless," can you tell right them that these are movies we'd still be talking about years after their release?
On "Do The Right Thing," I felt that. On "White Men Can't Jump," I thought it was going to be big, but it was Wesley Snipes who kept saying every single day, "You know this shit's gonna be big." Every single day. I'd say, "Yeah, it will be big." He'd say, "No, no, no, no. This shit is gonna be big. Like for-a-long-time big." So, sometimes I know and sometimes I don't know.

Was Alex Trebek nice?
Yes, very nice. He was very nice. I thought he was very funny and very personable.

I enjoyed what you had to say in the Entertainment Weekly "Do The Right Thing" reunion. I didn't realize how much you hated your haircut.
I haven't read it yet. Oh my god, that's so funny, I don't even remember what I said. But I do remember how I felt and, man, was I angry.

I would have never have guessed a few years ago that you would run a Twitter account dedicated to boxing.
And I would have never guessed that I would be on Twitter. I use it only for boxing because I was watching Showtime, because they have boxing, and they were showing tweets. And I had never seen that before. And I looked at my now husband and said, "I want to tweet something!" and he fell out laughing. I asked what was so funny and he said, "Your management is dying for you to get on Twitter and now you want to get on Twitter because you're watching boxing." That, I have to say, has been a big joy for me. And the exchange that I have with the Twitter people-- What do you call them? Twitter people?

Twitter users?
Yeah. You know, people can be really mean and nasty on Twitter. They have that shield -- that Twitter shield. And I say, "Say it to my face!" But when I'm tweeting about boxing, I swear to goodness, I would swear that 98 percent of the exchange and the feedback are positive. And it blows my mind. I did get one person who was following me, he tweeted at me, "I love you so much. I'll still watch everything you're going to be in. But you tweet too much about boxing. I'm unfollowing you." I laughed so hard. And I remember I tweeted back, but he had already blocked me! He unfollowed and blocked me. I thought that was the funniest thing in life. I thought it was hysterical.

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

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