In the Loop
Alumni News : Mar 6, 2017

SOTD alumna Angelique Rivera joins Joaquin Phoenix in Gus Van Sant’s new biopic

By Asia McKenzie

Angelique Rivera (BFA Theatre Performance ‘14) is set to costar in Gus Van Sant’s upcoming biopic about cartoonist John Callahan alongside Joaquin Phoenix.

Van Sant will also be directing the biopic, which is based on and named after Callahan’s autobiography Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. The film will follow Callahan as he adjusted to life after becoming quadriplegic due to a car accident.

Rivera will play the daughter of Callahan’s employer who is housing Callahan after his accident. She said that she is excited to play this role because she was a huge fan of Van Sant.

“I am a huge fan of Gus Van Sant's work!,” she said. “Good Will Hunting is one of my all-time favorite films, and movies like Milk inspired me growing up. So when I found out he was the director I knew I had to take this on. Working with a director of this caliber doesn't come around often so there was no way I could turn this opportunity down.”

Rivera said her audition was a bit of a challenge because she was asked to act within the moment and improv.

“Francine Maisler called me in to audition,” she said. “She is the head of casting at Universal and she used to be the head casting director of Sony so she's a major player in the casting world. I've been to her office a few times and never booked anything. I went in prepared like always and worked the scene with her casting associate. They put me on tape for Francine and Kathy had asked me to improv a little and I did. I've never been asked to improv in an audition so it was a bit of a curveball but I was up for the challenge. (Shout out to my Improv teacher at UF Sean Cancellieri!) I did the scene twice and that was it. Almost a week later I got an email that they wanted to book me for the role. Totally unexpected!”

Rivera also wanted to emphasize that although her part is small, she hopes that it will help lead her to more roles.

“It's not a big role, but like they say, ‘There are no small parts, just small actors,’” she said. “Also, work begets work so you never know what this could lead to. I'm really excited to dig into this role and work alongside the best in the business.”

Rivera has three projects coming out this year; Loca, which will premiere at South  by Southwest (SXSW), and Drink, Slay, Love will premiere on Lifetime in May. She also will guest starring in Supernatural March 9 at 8 p.m. on the CW.

Keep up with Rivera and her projects at