Time ran out for the former Six Feet Under star, but his career is alive and kicking

Still mourning the end of Six Feet Under? Rejoice: Freddy Rodriguez is back.

Since shedding Federico Diaz s latex gloves last year, the married father of two has worked on several films, including Bobby and Harsh Times (now playing). The actor, 31, talked to PEOPLE about his big-screen rebirth.

Bobby has quite a cast. How was it being part of a stellar ensemble?
Emilio called out of nowhere about it, and I was like, “Wow, Emilio Estevez, man!” You’re intimidated meeting Sharon (Stone), Laurence (Fishburne), Demi (Moore) – Demi was a big part of my teenage-hood. I tried to play it cool, but internally I was screaming.

What drew you to the role – a witness to Bobby Kennedy s 1968 shooting?
You see (in the iconic photo of the assassination) that the moment (after) he was shot, out of all the people in the room, the one person kneeling down next to Robert F. Kennedy was this busboy. A busboy! He put his own safety on the line to kneel with a dying man. It just blew my mind.

That s a tough act to follow. What s next?
I m doing Grind House, a Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez collaboration. I did gun training, knife training, fight choreography. Thank God I have a dance background, so when it came down to the fight choreography, I could do it.

Were you a backup dancer? Like K-Fed?
I was! Not to the level of K-Fed, but I did some backup dancing in (my hometown of) Chicago. I think I can still do the running man!

Any teen comedies coming up, like your role in 1998’s cult fave Can’t Hardly Wait?
You know what? I m proud of Can’t Hardly Wait?! You watch that movie and it s the Fast Times at Ridgemont High of our generation.

What does Elsie, your wife of 11 years, think of your new status as a movie star?
She deserves this a lot more than I do. She s an incredible woman who made huge sacrifices for the sake of my career. I d be a freakin loser in Chicago somewhere if it weren t for her.