Josh Andrés Rivera Gushes Over 'Hunger Games' Prequel Co-Star and Girlfriend Rachel Zegler (Exclusive)

The actor spoke with ET ahead of the premiere of 'The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes' on Monday.

Josh Andrés Rivera has been part of two major feature productions, and he still gets a little nervous when it comes to premieres. The actor welcomed ET as he got ready ahead of the premiere of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes on Monday, where he gave an intimate look at his process before a big event and opened up about his work on the Hunger Games prequel.

"I just try to calm my nerves as best as I can," Rivera, 28, told ET's Ash Crossan, adding that he likes to "have some tea, listen to some music, talk to my friends, and then take a deep breath."

Rivera made his feature film debut in 2021's West Side Story, and will star as Aaron Hernandez in Ryan Murphy's American Sports Story.

"[It's been] a roller coaster," Rivera quipped when asked about his journey since making his big screen debut two years earlier. "I feel very fortunate that I'm here now and I get to celebrate this and we get to do this press tour. And now the [actors'] strike's over, we get to go back to work. I just feel really lucky."

That luck seems to extend to his personal life. The actor celebrated his two-year anniversary with his girlfriend, Rachel Zegler, whom he met on the set of Steven Spielberg's award-winning film remake in 2021.

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The two star alongside one another again in the hotly anticipated Hunger Games prequel.

"It's really special, like I feel really lucky that I've gotten to do these two movies, and to do it with such an incredible person like her," Rivera said of working with his Golden Globe-winning love. "It just feels like we're both living the dream -- we get to do it together, which is really fortunate... I'm like a broken record but I feel really thankful."

ET also spoke with Zegler when she walked the red carpet at the premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, where she gushed about the on-set romance.

"It is the greatest experience to go to work and have a familiar face that feels like home," Zegler said with a smile, "and Josh is my home, so it was really, really lovely."

While Rivera is excited for fans to see what the cast has been up to for the Hunger Games prequel, he's also excited to get to work on Murphy's American Sports Story.

In a press release, FX described Murphy's new project as a "scripted anthological limited series focusing on a prominent event involving a sports figure and re-examines it through the prism of today's world, telling that story from multiple perspectives." Season 1 will be based on the Boston Globe and Wondery's Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc. podcast, focusing on Hernandez, the convicted killer and former New England Patriots star who died by suicide in prison.

Rivera will portray the troubled former Patriots tight end alongside Patrick Schwarzenegger, who will portray Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and Hernandez's teammate at the University of Florida. 

Rivera told ET that aside from the obvious prep for the physical component of the role, there's a lot of "research" involved in portraying the real-life NFL star.

"I have a lot of analyzing intonation, dialect, personality traits and trying to toe the line between imitating and emulating, you know? It's tough, it's a great challenge, but I'm really excited about it," the actor said.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes hits theaters Nov. 17.