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UNFROSTED: You Know the Guy Who’s Tom Carvel in Seinfeld’s Movie? No? Here’s The Scoop!

“I would say my favorite genre is employment.”

 

Adrian Martinez may not be a household name, but he is very likely a household face. The prolific actor has appeared in many popular commercials, television shows and movies over the past three decades. Most recently, he joined the  deep ensemble cast of Unfrosted, the highly anticipated directorial debut of Jerry Seinfeld doing a humorous take on the creation of the popular breakfast treat, Pop-Tarts.

Some actors prefer to work in comedies, while others pick dramatic roles. As Martinez only partially jokes to Hollywood.com, “I would say my favorite genre is employment. I love employment.  I really don’t care. As long as it’s a good character and something that scares me, I’m in.”

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Even a quick glance at a picture of Martinez is likely to stir multiple memories of various high-profile projects in which you’ve seen him perform. His resume stretches back more than 30 years, with a list of well over 100 acting credits on some of the most popular television shows (including Only Murders in the Building, Curb Your Enthusiasm, three iterations of Law & Order and The Sopranos), movies (including Kick-Ass, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and American Hustle) and commercials (most famously as the State Farm Discount double-check Cheesehead with NFL star, Aaron Rodgers).

And who can forget his distinctive call, “Hey Rodgers!”

 

 

“‘You don’t look like Hollywood. You look like a plumber.'”

 

Lest anyone think Martinez is one-dimensional, he has also served as a writer, producer and director. His array of talents was put on display when he did those three jobs in addition to starring in the 2021 unusual love story, iGilbert.

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The New York City born Martinez recalls knowing at an early age that he wanted a career in Hollywood, “I was basically a lonely kid growing up, and I really didn’t have friends, and I just found myself absolutely immersed into the movies,” he says. “I would just spend most of my time after school going to the movies, and really just taking it all in. I remember seeing all these great movies and just saying, ‘Oh man, if I can just do that one day.'”

If he had listened to everyone, including some of those closest to him, Martinez’s life might have taken a much different turn. “Everybody in my family thought it was crazy,” he shares, “You know, ‘that’s for Hollywood and Hollywood people. He was even told, “’You don’t look like Hollywood. You look like the plumber. Stay in your lane, dude.’”

Despite the doubts, Martinez kept his eyes on the prize, steadily working towards what became a dream come true. As he acknowledges with a hint of pride, “In most families, there’s one person that goes left while everyone else goes right, and that was me.”

 

Unpacking Unfrosted

 

 

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Success hasn’t gone to this veteran actor’s head head, and he takes each project as a new adventure to try and prove himself all over again. Martinez’s latest role, famed ice cream magnate Tom Carvel in Unfrosted, was won after he submitted a compelling self-tape. He will tell you he partly bone up for it recalling how it was to have Carvel ice cream growing up, and that he fleshed out the character watching old clips of the real-life businessman passionately discuss his products on late-night TV talk shows.

Directed by Seinfeld, Unfrosted boasts a star-studded cast, including Seinfeld, Melissa McCarthy, Jim Gaffigan, Jon Hamm, Amy Schumer, Hugh Grant and many more. Martinez likens the experience of working with so many brand name actors to visiting a wax museum. “At the end of the day, once you get past all the celebrity, these are actors who show up and they’re prepared. They just wanna nail it and move on, and that is something that just sort of kicks in once they yell action. The character doesn’t know that the other person is a celebrity. The character is a character.”

Loosely based on true events, the film is a comedic take on how Pop-Tarts first came to be in the 1960s. Many real-life food-industry and historical figures make an appearance in this hilarious, freewheeling account of the famed breakfast treat’s creation.

Working in Seinfeld’s first directorial foray into directing wasn’t as daunting as it might seem. According to Martinez the comedy legend “is very much like a surgeon. He knows exactly what to do and when to do it. He’s very big on pace and tone and speed Once you have a director that knows exactly what he wants, then forget about it. You’re in good hands.”

 

 

Seinfeld sets the tone 

 

Martinez describes a pleasantly relaxing work environment on the Unfrosted set. “The atmosphere was very fun and very lively. {Seinfeld} kept saying, ‘Relax. It’s just a Pop Tarts movie. Hey, there’s no need for stress. Relax.’ So once he set that tone, everybody just kinda went for it.”

In overseeing his bountiful ensemble cast, Seinfeld found himself inspired by the 1960s classic  It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Martinez believes the result will be enjoyed by audiences.

In a project filled with countless memorable moments for Martinez, there’s one he’ll hold dear forever–and that he says he values even more than getting paid for his work.

There’s a sea monkey in this film, and I remember being absolutely in awe of {it} sitting in this fish tank. I don’t want to give it away, but after we did the scene … and Tom Carvel’s reaction to the sea monkey … Mr. Seinfeld ran up to me and he just said, ‘Adrian, you’re comedy gold.’”

 

Photo courtesy Netflix

 

That exuberant compliment from the comedic icon struck Martinez like a ton of bricks–but in a good way. Emotion is evident in his, he remembers, “That was it, man. I like that. That is inscribed in my heart right now.”

Martinez considers such praise to be perhaps the most tangible reward for his hard work.

“It’s a funny business,” he says.  “You’re gonna do the work, but unless you’re directing it yourself, you don’t really know how much is gonna actually stay in the edit …. But what you can hold on forever, what you can keep forever are these moments.  ‘Adrian, you’re comedic gold.’ That’s my salary. That’s my baby. You know, that I can hold on to.”

When pressed on what he hopes to be remembered for once his lengthy career comes to a conclusion, Martinez didn’t hesitate in responding, “my resiliency. I have been at this a long time, and I started as a teenager. It’s been three decades and counting, and I feel like the one thing I’m most proud of is I just don’t quit.”

 

Aliens and a DVD

 

Martinez says he probably wouldn’t change anything he currently does, even if the world was turned on his head. Turning to his funny side, he jokes, “The aliens could drop a bomb on earth, and there’s nothing but rubble. And through that rubble, I have, like, a DVD that {I’m} handing up to the alien. ‘Look, this is my Law & Order.’ I won’t stop. That’s it. I just keep going. Big star, little star, A-list, D-list, I don’t care. I just want to work.”

It’s an attitude carved out by the reality that, for Martinez, success hasn’t come easy. “It’s a weird business,” he acknowledges. “It’s not a meritocracy.”

His advice to those trying to succeed in that business? “If you just hold on to the moments that come to you and fight and stay resilient, absolutely wonderful things come your way. That’s been my case.”

It’s easy to see why Martinez has lasted so long in a business that can chew up and spit out those with less resolve. Equal parts funny, genuine and kind, he not only continues to find steady work but is landing plum roles like his turn in Unfrosted. His life has, in short, become exactly what he once dreamed of and was told would be impossible.

Truly, how sweet it is.

{This interview was lightly edited for brevity and clarity}

Jerry Seinfeld’s UNFROSTED debuts May 3 on Netflix.

 

About the Author:

 

Born on the East Coast but currently residing on the West Coast, Andrew Martin has contributed to a variety of newspapers, magazines, blogs and other mediums  but most fondly remembers his Master’s thesis exploring the impact of the Boston Red Sox on social identity in New England. He enjoys writing about history, sports, culture and investing and recently published his first book–Baseball’s Greatest Players: 10 Baseball Biographies for New Readers, a children’s book about baseball history.

 

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