Fifteen years after Nicolas Cage and the crew reunited for another treasure hunt, Disney+ is rolling out a new spinoff series with a fresh cast and a couple familiar faces. In National Treasure: Edge of History, Jordan Rodrigues stars as Ethan Chow, Jess Venezuela’s (played by Lisette Olivera) childhood friend and reluctant adventurer. As the series starts to roll out this week, Rodrigues is working on enjoying the moment and reflecting on what the last two years have meant for him. Here, the Lady Bird and The Fosters alum shares what’s on his mind, from rediscovering his passion for acting to letting the world get to know him a little bit more.
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WM: How are you doing lately?
Jordan Rodrigues: I'm doing good. This lead-up to the show has been a whole new adventure for me, and it's come with a lot of challenges and struggles. But those are the things that help us grow as people. It's been a lot, and there have been a lot of hurdles, but I'm overall very excited for everyone to see the show.
WM: What's something that you learned about your mental health through that process?
JR: That I can do this. I think I've avoided putting Jordan Rodrigues out there for the world. I've avoided publicity and celebrity for as long as I can because I know how hard it is—I've seen it firsthand. But the ultimate thing I've realized is that I'm capable. If I maintain a really healthy lifestyle and healthy mental habits, I can really achieve anything I put my mind to.
WM: That’s a good perspective to have from the beginning, so you don’t get caught up in all the chaos and negativity that can come with this career.
JR: My goal has always been longevity. It's never been about being the center of attention or in the spotlight all the time because I knew that was going to come with time and effort put into this career.
WM: What has your mental health journey been like, if you don't mind sharing?
JR: I'm very open about it because I think we need to be. My mental health was pretty good up until 2019, when I was working a bit more than usual. I think my ego was getting a bit big. Then COVID happened, and all of it had to stop. We all had to sit in it and reflect. Work became a need instead of a want for the first time in my life, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. That just led to a downward spiral. It would be the closest to depression I've ever been.
But I knew I needed to take this opportunity to work on myself and reconfigure how I view myself and how I view the world. I went back home to Australia for about 10 months, and I reconnected with my culture, my family, and my friends. I had to have an ego death, essentially. I've had to say yes to pretty much every opportunity: commercials, short films, and projects that would get me excited about acting again. Then after falling in love with the process and myself again, I booked National Treasure. So it was two years in the making, but it really was a life journey.
WM: That can be tough and humbling when you have to rethink what success is or go back to the drawing board.
JR: I really needed to fall in love with the process again and really understand why I did this and understand that this industry can be what you make of it. I have a mindset that it's kind of like a board game, and the goal is not to fall off.
WM: Why did you want to get into acting?
JR: My why is that I love entertaining. I think the experience of collaborating with other people, other creatives, and people who are passionate about storytelling and expressing emotion is my why. … I love being on set and experiencing teamwork and problem-solving together. But the emotion is the core of it. I love expressing myself in a vulnerable way. I love psychology and [learning] why humans do the things they do.
WM: What's something that you do for your mental health on a regular basis?
JR: I meditate. I love anything physical, like going to the beach, snowboarding, surfing, going to the gym, playing basketball. I'm usually doing something very physical every day. I also play music and do some writing—those things I need to get better at. I've got a long way to go. But I always try to find something curious every day.
WM: What's the best piece of mental health advice you've received?
JR: If you're ever in a situation that’s too much or too intense or doesn't feel good, just step away for a second. Take a second, breathe, and center yourself. Then you can, if you need to, go back to the situation.
WM: If you could give yourself a pep talk right now, what would you say?
JR: Don’t be so hard on yourself. You've worked really hard to get to where you are today. Just take a second to appreciate that and the journey you've been on.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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