• Interviews

Ismael Cruz Córdova Is Honored to Be the First Latino Elf in a Tolkien Series

At 35 years old, Ismael Cruz Córdova is an actor who does not give up.

Born in Aguas Buenas (Puerto Rico), Ismael knew from childhood that his profession would be an actor.

When he was 15 years old, he was already appearing in commercials in his native country and was part of his high school’s drama club. He started college in Puerto Rico until he decided to move to New York. He graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Little by little, Córdova made his way into showbusiness by getting roles in short films, television commercials, movies, television, and streaming series. He was recognized as one of the 25 leaders of the future by the publication Latino Leaders Magazine.

The Puerto Rican actor is known for his recurring role as professional boxer Héctor Campos in the fourth season of the Showtime police series, Ray Donovan, playing Mando on Sesame Street, and was in the third season of Berlin Station as Rafael Torres, a paramilitary operative. Ismael’s film credits include Settlers, Simple Little Lives, In the Blood, White Alligator, and The Golden Record.

He has also worked on the television series The Undoing, The Mandalorian, The Catch, The Good Wife, Citizen, and Divorce.

Cordova is living one of the best moments in his career since he got an important role in the series, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The first chapter premieres in September on Amazon Prime. In our interview on the red carpet of the show’s premiere in Culver City, California, Ismael tells us about his new production and his future plans.


Happy that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series is about to debut?

That’s right. It’s been a busy few months in New Zealand during the pandemic. It was a great challenge for the entire production but luckily, everything went as expected. We became a big family and now, it is a pleasure to promote the series.

What is your character in the series?

I play the character, Arondir, who is in charge of patrolling the southern lands where something forbidden happens. He meets a human and falls in love, which is a forbidden romance.

My character is a warrior, a being that nothing defeats – neither fear, nor vicissitudes, nor obstacles. He continues with what his heart dictates.

What has your experience of being part of this production been like?

The experience has been incredible. In addition to being in the series as an actor, there is the work to get here, which means representing my people, Latinos, Afro-Latinos, and Caribbean people. This franchise had not had people like us acting, and I have the honor of being the first Latino elf in the series.

Everything has been due to my perseverance. I have never given up. I keep working day by day because I know that this career is long and I have to work nonstop.

How easy or difficult has it been for you to break through as a Latino in Hollywood?

The obstacles have been countless. The industry is changing little by little but it can change much more. We have had to fight and fight for this. Even in this production, I had several rejections but I continued to do what I had to do and I had to visualize what I wanted and where I wanted to be.

For me, representing Latinos, our people, is a source of pride because we are here to stay.

What can we expect from this series?

A lot of love, hope, action and as I say, there are many changes in the story and that is what makes the production different. I really feel blessed and honored to be a part of this world.

Who is your favorite character?

There are many interesting ones but I could tell you that it would be Stranger.

What is next in your career after this series?

After this work, I am in an anthology with Guillermo del Toro called Cabinet of Curiosities. Then I will shoot a film, Finestkind, with Ben Foster and Tommy Lee Jones, something that also makes me very happy.

The truth is that I can’t complain because one by one, opportunities have come to my career but this is only the beginning.

What was it like working with Guillermo del Toro?

It was fantastic. For me, he is an idol and the experience was tremendous. It was a dream come true. Guillermo is truly a genius. It is a privilege to work with him as he is also an excellent person.

Translated by Mario Amaya