From Nov. 7 through Dec. 5, AMC is airing select episodes of Breaking Bad Sundays at Midnight | 11C following new episodes of The Walking Dead. As part of the Breaking Bad encore experience online, AMCtv.com will be posting interviews with the show’s talented supporting cast. This week, Rodney Rush a.k.a. Combo theorizes on the origin of his character’s nickname and relates how Bryan Cranston broke the news to him about Combo’s fate.
Q: How did you go from playing “Chubby Stoner” in Season 1 to Combo in Seasons 2 and 3?
A: I had never acted before. I was approached by a friend and he told me that his grandmother wanted us to go to try out to be an extra. The next day I was filming. It was pretty wild. That was for Chubby Stoner. And then they contacted me the next year to come and meet with Vince Gilligan. He had decided to make me a bigger character.
Q: Were you nervous that first day of shooting?
A: I’m not a person that gets nervous. That’s what they saw in me when they first had me audition. I went in there and read with Aaron Paul and went through it without any problems. People always told me, since I was young, you should be an actor. I’d actually sit in front of the mirror and make funny faces. My mom would walk in and catch me talking in a different voice or making a character up. She always told me, “If you got locked in a room with a mirror you’d be happy for hours.”
Q: Do you know how your character got the nickname Combo? Or what it means?
A: I’m not exactly sure where that comes from. They always kept Combos around the set — the little pretzel and cheese things. It could have been those.
Q: How did you find out, having gotten the bigger role, that you were going to get killed?
A: To show you how much I really would know, I come in for my dress rehearsal for the episode where I was going to die and I’m trying on my clothes and someone comes in and is like, “Oh man, it’s crazy that you’re going to get shot.” And I’m like, “Oh yeah,” pretending like I know what he’s talking about. And I see Bryan Cranston and he’s like, “Man if you gotta go out, that’s the way to go out.” I hadn’t read my script. I’m like, “Alright, I don’t know what’s going on. Tell me.”
Q: How did he feel about being the bearer of bad news?
A: He was actually a wonderful person. He explained to me that that episode was really what pushed me up there and got me noticed. Had I not been killed off the show, I’d be less memorable.
Q: Right before Combo gets shot, he seems to know something is wrong. Have you ever had that feeling?
A: I’ve had a gun pulled on me a couple times. It goes so quickly.
Q: What happened?
A: One time this guy got his bike stolen and since I had a truck with a cover on the back he thought, I guess, that I had it. I hop out and he comes up and pulls this gun on me, out of nowhere. I said a few things and took off. I hope nobody has to go through that. You really have no control. I just took off. If he would have shot me, he would have shot me.
Q: In the Season 3 flashback, it looked like Combo was having a really good time partying at the strip club with Jesse. Was that as much fun to shoot?
A: By this time I’m thinking I’m one of the luckiest people ever. I actually got about three or four of my friends to get paid to be extras that day. So I got to hang out with my friends and we were talking to all the girls. Of course, I was really professional. I had such a great time. I have to say I’m kind of good in that atmosphere. Been there a few times.
Q: In addition to acting, you also rap.
A: Yeah, I produce music now. I have a record label called Five Star Records. I do everything from recording them to doing their graphics and CD covers and putting them out there and marketing for them. There is a lot more to come from me.
Q: And who knows, you might even be back on Breaking Bad?
A: You never know what happens.