Guillermo Rodriguez Has Been on Jimmy Kimmel Live for 20 Years — Here’s the Surprising Way He Got His Job
If you’re a fan of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” you’re probably aware of the bombastic, hilarious, Zacatecas, Mexico-born Guillermo Rodriguez. The Mexican-American started appearing on the late night show since it launched back in 2003, making notable appearances as the host’s sidekick. That being said, Rodriguez first got on the show for a very unexpected reason.
As Rodriguez explained it himself in an ABC special for the channel’s Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month series, his start on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” was nothing short of random— and incredible. Alongside fellow Mexican-American Cleto Escobedo III, the show’s musical director and band leader who counts Kimmel as a childhood friend, the two TV personalities discussed their heritage, and how they got started on the show.
As the story goes, 51-year-old Rodriguez started out as a parking lot security guard for the show in 2003. At the time, he was actually juggling three jobs at once, including a gig as a hotel room server. It makes sense that Rodriguez was dead-tired from working, so he decided to do something just a bit insane: “I was in the parking lot, and I was sleeping in [Dicky Barrett’s] car.” With Barrett holding the role as the official announcer on the show, there’s no doubt Rodriguez’s move was pretty risky.
Then, the worst happened— which actually turned out to be the best possible scenario. Barrett caught Rodriguez sleeping in his car, opened the door, and asked him, “What are you doing here?” Rodriguez replied, “I’m trying to sleep, I’m so sorry.” When Barrett told Kimmel about the situation, he immediately said: “We’ve got to put this guy on the show.”
As the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Actor explained to Jon Finkel, he actually first turned the position down. “The very first time they asked me to be on the show I said ‘no’… One of the producers said that the writers were thinking of putting me on the show and I told them that I’d never been on TV and that I was very shy, but they told me to give it a try.”
Once he completed his first skit, Rodriguez got paid and thought that was it— but the writers continued to include him on the show. “After the first skit I thought it was funny… I went back to my security job. Then the writers came back and said that they were going to use me again.” And the rest was history!
Almost two decades later, the Zacatecas-born actor is still going strong on the late night show, and has a wide variety of skits and roles that have become truly iconic. For one, he famously delivers celebrity gossip on “Guillermo’s Hollywood Round-Up,” and is also known to interview tons of celebs on the red carpet— such as Nicole Kidman and Will Smith at the Oscars. Rodriguez is always hilarious, such as when he asked Jada Pinkett Smith to guess what he was wearing, exclaiming, “Spanx!” LOL.
Rodriguez has also chatted with Emmy winners on a special Kimmel segment, and taken to the streets to prank people on the street. One prank we’ll never get over? Tricking people into eating spicy CinnaFuego Toast Crunch by telling them it’s regular Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Coining the catchphrase, “You’ve been fuego’d,” we’re obsessed with all things Rodriguez— and now we need to try the new cereal, too.
There’s no doubt the 51-year-old’s career trajectory is unusual, but that just makes it all the more special. With Kimmel naming his son “Billy” after Rodriguez, and the Mexican-American making Kimmel the godfather of his son, there’s no doubt the friendship will go down as one of the most legendary in the history of television.
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