Luis Guzman never intended to become an actor.
At the age of 29, Guzman was working as a social worker on NYC’s Lower East Side; when two of his students didn’t show up to his program, he ventured outside to inquire as to their whereabouts. By pure chance, he crossed paths with a long lost friend, who was a TV show writer and suggested Guzman audition for a role. In no time, Guzman was an actor on the hit television show, Miami Vice. From there, he went on to become a favorite of director, Steven Soderbergh, who casted him in three of his projects, Out of Sight, The Limey and Traffic. He has also appeared in PT Anderson’s ensemble flicks, Boogie Nights and Magnolia. Although initially confined to the stereotypical Latin bad guy roles, Guzman’s acting ability has become increasingly valued, presenting him with opportunities to branch out, portraying a wider range of characters in bigger and bigger roles. Most recently, he appeared alongside ULM cover-featured, Victor Rasuk, in the addictive HBO series, How to Make it in America (which was recently cancelled much to the chagrin of its’ avid followers).
There wasn’t and still isn’t anything Hollywood about Luis Guzman. From his lack of intention to ever become an actor, his decision to relocate his family from NYC to Vermont, and lastly, the absence of Hollywood-esque physical attributes, Guzman wasn’t meant to belong, but does. Although he isn’t your quintessential Hollywood star, his face (although maybe not his name) is recognized worldwide as “that bad mofo in Carlito’s Way” or “the train driver in Pelham 1,2,3”. In an industry kept afloat by inflated human vanity and misconstrued understanding of true talent, Guzman is refreshingly self-aware. “I consider myself a guy who shows up and does his thing. Character actor? You know that’s pretty much what I’ve been labeled as. I’m cool with that. I also like to be known as a working actor. A guy that’s gonna show up and do his thing and compliment everything that’s going on.” And therein lies the essence of Luis Guzman. He lets his talents speak for themselves and refuses to conform to Hollywood’s standards, all of which render him a true Urban Latino Hollywood legend.
Words by Erik Zambrano