DJ Sixsmith

Rick Gonzalez grew up reading any Marvel comic book he could get his hands on. He was a comic book collector and loved Wolverine and Punisher. After dreaming of being a super hero, Gonzalez finally got to play one when he got the part of Wild Dog on “Arrow.”

“Being apart of this show is a dream come true,” Gonzalez said in a recent interview with CBS Local. “I’m fulfilling a fantasy and I always wanted to play a bad a**. Wild Dog is similar to my favorites Wolverine and Punisher.”

The role has been challenging in a number of different ways for Gonzalez. “Arrow” is one of the only shows out there shooting over 20 episodes on network TV, which means that Gonzalez spends eight months of the year in Vancouver. The 38-year-old also has Crohn’s Disease and that makes his physically demanding role of Wild Dog even more difficult.

“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was 17 and I wasn’t always responsible in taking care of it,” said Gonzalez. “Medicine has gotten better for it and I’ve been able to do a better job of managing it and controlling it. I just never let it try to get me down.”

While Gonzalez is known today for his work on television, it was his roles on several big movies that changed his career forever. Gonzalez played basketball player Timo Cruz in the hit film “Coach Carter” with Samuel L. Jackson and he says that people still come up to him over a decade later asking about Timo.

“I’ve had countless people from different parts of life come up and tell me how profoundly Timo impacted them,” said Gonzalez. “The characters we portrayed really connected with people. Timo had this huge arc where he was on the team, leaves the team, loses his cousin and comes back on the team before he realizes he has to find a way to get to college.”

Samuel L. Jackson is just one of the big stars Gonzalez has shared a set with. Gonzalez sprung onto the scene back in 2002 with Dennis Quaid in “The Rookie” and then a year later worked with Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson in “Old School.” Rick has even been in a music video with Lady Gaga. While the star of “Arrow” has done some great projects, he’s excited for what’s still to come.

“I’d like to produce some of my own projects. That’s definitely in the pipeline and I have my ideas,” said Gonzalez. “For me it’s all about identity. I’m 38 year old and I realize the most powerful thing that we can use to express who we are is identity.”