Talk to anybody who has watched movies on this planet and they will tell you “I love Luis Guzman”. And how can you not? The well known character actor makes an impact in any movie he is in. The 58 year old was born in Puerto Rico, but grew up in the East Village of Manhattan, New York. He can be any type of personality in a movie. Funny in Anger Management, a side-kick in The Last Stand, a bad guy in Carlito's Way, you name it; He has been that kind of guy. For the Boogie Nights, and Traffic star, he credits his success to being in the right places at the right time. That shows how humble he is because it is all about a balance in the quality of work along with the quantity. You would be hard pressed to find an actor who has worked with a collection of directors that include: Richard Linklater, Steven Soderbergh, Ridley Scott, Brian De Palma, and Paul Thomas Anderson. The man’s name is Luis Guzman, and AMovieGuy.com had the chance to talk to the star about his upcoming comedy “Ana Maria in Novela Land”.
AMG.com: How did you spend your Oscar Sunday? And how exciting was it for you to see your “Boogie Nights” co-star Julianne Moore win the best actress award?
Luis Guzman: I watched them for maybe 5 minutes total. That is not really my thing. I am happy for all of the people that won their awards. They are all well deserved, my respects to them, but I become a bit turned off from the lack of diversity. I appreciate what John Legend and Common said in their speeches though. And I of course applaud Julianne Moore! I have worked with her and she did an incredible job. I am very proud of her in that role, I mean Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing that people go through and I am happy she won for it.
AMG.com: I have followed your career , and you have been in a lot of memorable films. Can you talk about some of those films and specifically working closely with Paul Thomas Anderson?
Luis Guzman: I think a lot of that is due to my work ethic, showing up and wanting to be a part of an incredible team of people. Paul is very giving and I always want to learn as much as possible, his films get my creative juices going. This is why I think I work so well with many different directors. I think part of it is also being in the right place at the right time. I mean there are so many parts to it, but I think it is just having the respect of the directors that I have worked with, like Paul. And they have had the same respect for me. I have always said the reward for good work, is more work. That is something I learned early in my career.
AMG.com: You have a highly enjoyable film coming out this weekend in Ana Maria in Novela Land, can you talk about what you enjoyed most working on this film?
Luis Guzman: Well I really enjoyed the script. I read it and dug the whole concept of it. Telenovela is such a big part of Latin culture and there are Latin versions of American novela’s. We know that people can gravitate to any form of dramas period. It was just a different kind of role, but it was something for me that was fun, different, I embraced it and said, “Yes, let’s do this.” Working with our director Georgina (Garcia Riedel) was great and working with a young talent like Edy Ganem, that was really cool for me.
AMG.com: What kind of preparation goes into being characters from Telanovelas? Do you play the acting a little bit larger than you would in a raunchy comedy or do you study Telenovela's more?
Luis Guzman: I had no choice on knowing my telenovela’s, because when I was a kid growing up my mom controlled the TV. So I had to watch Telenovela's all the time! Also, I really like to reinvent things on my own, some things you can’t study for. You just need to become the character by going all out. Being a Telenovela villain, not much study needs to happen because you know your place, you have that attitude, and you do it.
AMG.com: You talked about working with Edy; This is her first experience being the lead in a feature film. Do you take her under your wing? Or was she just well prepared like a seasoned professional?
Luis Guzman: There’s a sorts of combinations of that, I mean she said how she was proud to work with me and meet me which I loved. I am there to show nothing but love and support and be creative with her. I am really happy for her. She did really well, she plays dual roles, and that is not easy to do for anybody.
AMG.com: You get slapped in the face a lot in this film. Is there an art to pulling off the perfect Telanovela slap?
Luis Guzman: Oh yeah there is! After you slap me and the director says cut, you just better run! Run very fast because I will catch you and kick your ass, no I’m just kidding. I think in reality she only slapped me once and that was an accident. I wasn’t ready but I let her know I was okay about it afterwards because I did not want to make her upset.
AMG.com: Can you tell me what it has meant to you being a part of this film and specifically the last film of Elizabeth Pena's great career?
Luis Guzman: I mainly worked with her on the film Nothing Like the Holidays, we did not have much screen time together on Ana Maria, but as an artist, a human being, and the talented woman that she was, I am very thankful for her talent. I believe in her own right, she was a pioneer for many of us. She made me laugh; She always brought a smile to my face. I loved being around her. When we were around each other I just couldn’t keep a straight face. We would do press junkets together and I am grateful to have spent time with her. In Ana Maria she played such a beautiful, heartfelt role as the mother. I believed her in all her acting choices here and I was very grateful that she was a part of this project.
AMG.com: What other projects do you have coming up after Ana Maria in Novela Land?
Luis Guzman: I do have a movie coming out called Puerto Ricans in Paris which is another comedy. I Executive Produced that film, which we shot in Prague, Paris, and New York. It was written and Directed by my friend Ian Edelman, who did a great job. I also finished a TV movie called Roadies with Cameron Crowe up in Vancouver. So I am excited for those.
AMG.com: I think you both have a real winning film here that does not alienate people who do not watch Telanovela's. I think it’s a lot of fun. What do you hope fans get from seeing this film?
Luis Guzman: I agree. It is a fun movie; it’s different, and entertaining. I just hope people can go out and enjoy it. I think they will get a real kick out of it.
AMG.com: Luis, thank you so much for talking with AMovieGuy.com!