"Nothing Like the Holidays" was filmed right here in Chicago, a city that Bucktown native Freddy Rodriguez knows like the back of his hand.
Rodriguez decamped for Hollywood not long after high school, and the roles have come ever since—on television ("Six Feet Under," "Scrubs" and "Ugly Betty") and in film ("Bobby" and "Grindhouse," among others).
Most of the year, you'll find him at his five-bedroom, five-bathroom Mediterranean-style house in Woodlawn Hills—"the Valley," as Rodriguez puts it—that he shares with wife Elsie (his Lincoln Park High School sweetheart) and sons, Giancarlo, who turns 14 next month, and Elijah, 10.
"My wife's an interior designer, so it was all her doing. I would say it's, what does she call it, I guess, modern, ya know? But it's not like cold modern. It's a very warm, contemporary modern style."
What sold Rodriguez on the house? "When you first walk in the living room and the dining room are connected together and it has really high ceilings, so it reminded me of a Chicago loft. It's kind of nice every time I walk in my house, it reminds me of a Chicago loft."
Sometimes he doesn't need a reminder. The family also has a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in the Gold Coast. "I try to spend about four months out of the year in Chicago. I live [in Chicago] in the summer. It pretty much revolves around the kids' schedule—when they are off in summer, the three weeks in the winter, Thanksgiving, spring break, all of that we try to come back home."
Rodriguez wants his kids to feel like Chicagoans. "You know, they're growing up here to a small extent. They're obviously not here all year-round, but I feel like they're establishing a connection to the city they were born in, the city their mother and father grew up in, and they're spending a lot of time with grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins. That was the whole point of getting the place, actually, so the kids could be familiar with who their family is."
In fact, they were all home for Thanksgiving last month at cousin Charlie's house in Bolingbrook, where the turkey dinner included pasteles, a Puerto Rican tradition. "It's the equivalent of a tamale, except we use grated plantains. You stuff it with meat and potatoes and whatever else you want. It's almost like a meat pie. Then it's wrapped in a banana leaf and aluminum foil and you cook it. It's really good."
What is the most luxurious feature in your home? I think that would have to be, I have a home-theater system in the family room. I have a 65-inch LCD screen.
What's one thing hanging on a wall in your living room? I have, there's these four—how do you describe it? You know how when you go somewhere and there's a guy sketching—he'll sketch you, kind of cartoony? We had a guy do all four of us, and we have them hung up over the fireplace. Those were done in '05 at Universal Studios.
One thing in your house from your childhood? I have a photo up in my office of me in my first play when I was 13 years ago. It was with the Whirlwind Performance Company at the Blackstone Theater downtown.
If we looked in your fridge or freezer, what's the oldest thing we would find? Nothing really. I think my wife is pretty good about throwing out anything old. As soon as anything gets moldy or old she tosses it out.
What are three food items you have to have in the house at all times? Hot sauce, milk and frozen breakfast items like French toast sticks—the kids love that stuff, so we always have to have that on hand.
What item in your home most reflects your personality? I don't know if there's an item, but my office is like a gigantic hurricane hit it.
How important is "green" living to you? I don't know how green I am. I recycle. Actually, we just started to bring our own bags to the grocery store.
What exercise equipment would we find in your home? A Pilates machine and an elliptical machine. I don't use them, my wife does.
What do you see when you look out your bedroom window? My swimming pool.
How is your home similar or different from your childhood home? Well, I didn't grow up in a house. The home I own now is the first house I've ever lived in my life—I've always lived in apartments. So it's not similar to my childhood at all!Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times