Juan Riedinger Talks The Romeo Section + A Preview of “A Rigged Game”

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

This week on The Romeo Section, Rufus dives into the multi-layered complications of acquiring Benny’s business and all his ancillary partners — personal and professional. He also finds out where he stands with Wolfgang as Fergie pays him a visit.

Wolfgang and Norman keep working their case and receive an interesting solicitation from the shooter that piques Harry’s interest. Norman also works on the witness and puts together a fairly impressive theory board. And Lily gets a little out of her depth playing Sproule and Al against each other.

When I chatted with Juan Riedinger a couple of weeks ago, we talked about Rufus’s tendency for accidental success, if you will, and looked at Red’s assassination of Benny as one instance where he’s aware of things even if he’s not instigating them. He says even he wondered whether Rufus knew what Red was going to do.

“That’s one of those ambiguous Haddock things. I asked him the same question. Rufus is a pretty shrewd guy and he’s got really good instincts; he’s really good at reading people. I feel like he’s smart enough to know what happened based on the way Red is acting,” he points out.

“I’m pretty sure that Rufus knows, but it’s an unspoken thing, and in a way, he gets off on it. It instills him with a sense of power because he’s able to make things like that happen without having to lift a finger or say anything and there’s absolutely zero blood on his hands.”

“It was a big move on Red’s part. Rufus didn’t give him permission to do that, but on the flip side, it’s something that needed to be done for Rufus to achieve what he wants. It was a huge favor, and he did it without being told. You can see it from different angles and in different ways.”

Rufus also has to navigate the job for Mei Mei, who’s representing Wing, while technically working with Tony, although neither of them knows about their shared connection to Wolfgang. “Mei Mei’s another very shrewd character. Before he knows who she is and what she’s capable of, he sort of tiptoes around her,” he explains. “I don’t think she needs or wants to know how Rufus is doing things, she just cares that it gets done. The less she knows, the cleaner her hands are.”

Riedinger has enjoyed Rufus’s evolution, and says getting the part last year was a little unorthodox, but Chris Haddock, told him at the outset that Rufus would be integral to the series. “The casting process was more of a meet and greet than an audition. I sat down with Chris and spitballed a little bit We talked about life and my experiences,” he says.

“He has a sixth sense with people and he’s looking beyond what most people can see. He’s very much about people’s energy. Once he narrowed people down, he’d put people together and we’d work the scenes. Then I met with him and Stephen Surjik, and I remember Chris said, ‘Rufus is not a small role,’ and by that point I was excited that they didn’t want me to [change my appearance]. Before I knew it, I was on set and bringing this character to life.”

At the end of the first season, Haddock gave Riedinger a general idea of where Season 2 would go. “He dropped some hints about the [movie within the movie]. We were left at the end of Season 1 with massive amounts of heroin that Rufus needed to distribute and the movie world is this great opportunity for him to do it,” he says.

“In Season 1, we were primarily dealing with the Triads. [This season], Rufus becomes involved with the bikers and that’s a whole other avenue for the distribution of the drugs. It elevates the stakes even more. It’s another moving part in this tapestry of dangerous worlds that Rufus is involved with. That becomes a major element in Season 2, which is exciting.”

Toward the end of last season, “Elephant Faces East” switched up the tone a bit with a sort of bottle episode set inside a shipping container as Rufus double-crosses Vince for Wing. “That was a very special episode for me. It was exciting to be part of this big heist. It had a different feel than a lot of other episodes,” Riedinger recalls.

“To get to do a more action-driven sequence was a really a lot of fun. We were locked in that box for two days with some pickups here and there. The container was built in our studio, and then the exterior stuff was shot in a shipping yard. Getting to use the torches and all of that stuff was one of the fun perks … things you would never do in your everyday life.”

“I’m really happy with how that episode turned out. It was well-structured and fun to shoot. It was pivotal for Rufus. He became aware of what he was capable of, and the obstacles he could overcome. He’s the kind of guy who can be put into any situation, and when you don’t see how he could get out of it, he gets out of it. It’s one of the things I admire and that makes him fun to play.”

“Rufus has a real ‘fuck it’ attitude. It’s in his bones. That is what allows him to thrive and truly embrace that mindset. There are going to be situations where he’s risking his life, but he’s got a massive pair of balls. He’s a little crazy.”

Riedinger also enjoyed the episode we discussed last week with Andrew Airlie, where Wolfgang assaults a handcuffed Rufus, essentially terminating their relationship. “It was fun to see that side of Wolfgang come out. It was a point of no return where Rufus lost a lot of trust in Wolfgang and realized he needed to branch off and do things on his own,” he says.

“We shot it pretty quickly. We had a stunt guy there for me [just in case] because I was handcuffed when I had to fall off the chair. That scariest part wasn’t getting hit, it was flying out of the chair and landing on my side while handcuffed. The [director and stunt guy] were apprehensive about me doing it myself, but I feel like it helped me get to where I needed to get.”

During last year’s hiatus, Riedinger did an episode of Motive‘s final season as the sometimes boyfriend of the murder victim. “That was such a fun episode, It was one of those golden instances as an actor where I didn’t have to audition,” he says. “I got a call that they wanted to offer me the part. It was the second time they offered me a part [but I couldn’t do it the first time]. It worked out because the one I got to play was so much fun. I got to learn to LARP.”

Now that The Romeo Section has wrapped production on Season 2, Riedinger plans to spend time with his wife, filmmaker and actress Agam Darshi, and their twins, who were born three weeks before the show went to camera this summer.

He’s game for Season 3 and hopes that’s in the cards. “I love the show so much and it’s been such a treat to be a part of,” he says. “I really hope we get a few more seasons out of it.”

So do we!

The Romeo Section airs Wednesdays at 9:00/9:30 NT on CBC. Here’s a sneak peek of “A Rigged Game” and a look behind the scenes.



Photos Courtesy of CBC and CTV; Videos Courtesy of CBC.

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