Rudy Reyes on Hollywood, personal struggles and saving coral reefs

Eric Dehm
April 03, 2018 - 1:08 pm

Photo courtesy Rudy Reyes

To say Rudy Reyes has been busy since leaving the Marine Corps in 2006 is a bit of an understatement. Among other things, Reyes has worked as a personal trainer to stars like Geena Davis, graced the covers of magazines and ad campaigns, has a popular Instagram page, and most notably, made his acting debut in a critically-acclaimed HBO mini-series.  

When the producers of Generation Kill were looking to cast someone to play a character based on the actual Rudy Reyes, they stuck with the real item. Perhaps that's because finding someone to realistically portray the glamorously hardcore man, whose good looks and physical fitness were legendary among his 1st Recon Battalion brothers-in-arms, would have been a tall order to fill. Still, Reyes says he was always worried he'd be replaced because while being Rudy Reyes was easy, acting like Rudy Reyes? Not so much.  

"Brother, it was challenging," Reyes recalls of his intro to acting. "In time I loosened the third or fourth episode I was really hitting my groove, oh and the very first scene I shot? The very first day I was on set? It was the nude scene!"

#heroesliveforever and this is My Hero who was the #catalyst for #empowerment ... #believeinyourself #johnrambo #rocky #navyseals #greenberet #pararescue #coastguard #scoutsniper #reconmarine @officialslystallone @bertsorin @sorinex @breezetimmons #sylvesterstallone @wes_whitlock @goconditionone SPECIAL THANKS TO @gunnarfitness AND @bstworkout !!!!!

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Despite his initial worries about his abilities, "Rudy Reyes" ended up one of the most memorable characters from the series and Rudy Reyes parlayed that into success in multiple endeavors including personal training, modelling, and of course acting. While he says he enjoys everything he does these days, and things are looking bright for his future, he wasn't in such a good place after leaving the Corps and brought some things home that should have stayed in the Corps.

"My wife thought I was going crazy and maybe I was," Reyes says of that turbulent time in his life. "I heard somebody one night playing loud freaking hip-hop outside and my wife was tired at home... my wife wanted to sleep and the music was loud. Of course I had my pistol and the first thing I thought about was going out there to this thug with my pistol to tell him to turn that freaking music off."

Photo Courtesy Rudy Reyes

Thankfully for all involved, Reyes thought better of it. He still went outside, and still brought a weapon, but instead of the pistol it was a samurai sword. When confronted by the muscular former Marine wielding a sword, it's not all that surprising when Reyes says the man quickly agreed to turn off the music. While that instance didn't go as badly as it could, Reyes realized that even as he found success he was dealing with sadness, insomnia and depression that left him "lost in a fog." As a result, he had his first drink of alcohol the same year he left the Marines, and then a few more, as Reyes quickly developed a drinking problem.

"As veterans we're so strong at presenting," Reyes says. "We've accomplished such heavy-duty missions with the most stress and friction-filled environment around us, but we don't know how to ask for help."

One thing he found that helps is SCUBA diving. While he was a certified combat diver in the Marines, that was work and he didn't realize how soothing recreational diving could be. Reyes says diving makes him feel at one with nature, and he's currently giving back to the seas that give him peace through the organization Force Blue, which aims to repair the damage done to coral reefs, while helping repair veterans. 

Reyes says reaching out for help and finding ways, such as diving, to deal with his personal demons, has led to a personal resurgence and renaissance that has the future looking brighter than ever.

You can listen to the full interview with Rudy Reyes below by clicking Play to stream now, or to listen later click Share and select Download from the available options.