Luis Guzmán – We’re the Millers

August 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

In the comedy “We’re the Millers,” actor Luis Guzmán joins in the fun with a cameo role as a Mexican police officer who meets the Miller family (Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts and Will Poulter) at a check point as they’re trying to smuggle drugs into the U.S. During our interview, Guzmán, 56, talked about being a “scene stealer” and what life is like living in small town Vermont.

How do you like doing these cameo roles in movies? Is it as rewarding as being more of an integral part of the storyline?

I think I get good exposure. I get to have a cool, funny moment in the movie that people remember. That’s better than having a cameo that people don’t talk about.

That’s true. I thought you were the funniest thing in “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey. And you’re only on screen for a few minutes. (In the film, Guzman sings Third Eye Blind’s song “Jumper” as he stands on a ledge threatening to jump off it).

Yeah, I’ll never be a judge on “American Idol,” that’s for sure.

Do you like the term “scene-stealer” to describe a few of your roles in your career?

You know, a lot of people have given me that label. I appreciate it. I think it’s a tribute to the work that I put out. But I never approached anything thinking I’m going to steal the scene. I’m just there to do my job and have a good time and keep it moving and keep it fun and keep it loose, you know?

How would you describe the cop you play in “We’re the Millers?”

Basically, he’s out there looking for the bribe of the day.

Have you ever met a Mexican police officer before and, if so, in what capacity?

Yeah, they were either part of my security or part of the security on a movie set in Mexico.

You always hear how crooked Mexican cops are. Do you think most of them take a bribe or two?

I think so. I think in every department there are a couple of bad apples. People are looking to subsidize their salary.

Would you bribe a Mexican cop with $20 to get out of a ticket?

I’d offer him $10. Take it or leave it or let’s go to the precinct. I’m a good negotiator. If somebody says give me $100 bucks, I’ll say, “I’ll give you $10. Take it or leave it or I’m outta here.”

I know your scene in “We’re the Millers” is small and probably didn’t take you long to shoot, but were you able to get back on set to see Jennifer Aniston do her striptease?

Man, they sent me to a chocolate chip cookie convention for the day. That was their bribe to me.

And you chose chocolate chip cookies over Jennifer Aniston dancing?

I didn’t know that was going down. Otherwise I would’ve been there.

You do some really great voice work in “Turbo” alongside Michael Peña.

I had a lot of fun doing that. For me it was very enjoyable.

I loved the scene where you share your tacos with Tito outside and just look so relaxed like, “It’s been a really shitty day, but these tacos are making everything OK.”

That’s right. Making a living. That’s what I call that.

Of the 1,029 people that live in your hometown of Sutton, Vermont, according to the last Census taken, who besides your family is your favorite person in town?

My favorite person in town of the auto mechanic. He takes care of all my cars for me without an appointment.

Hispanics makes up .4 percent of the population, which means, if my math is correct, there are only 4 Hispanic people in Sutton. But isn’t your family bigger than that?

Yeah, there are seven of us and we make up all the minorities in town. But I gotta tell you, Vermont is a very progressive state. Everybody gets along really well with each other. All the neighbors look out for each other.

So, really, you’re the only Hispanic family living there?

Yes, sir. You should see me when I’m driving down the road-playing my Willie Colón music.

Why did you choose Vermont as your home?

Well, first of all, it doesn’t get up to 105 degrees out here. There’s beautiful mountains and beautiful green. They have incredible school systems up here. They have great healthcare up here. This is a good, clean environment. It’s an hour drive to the airport. I’m in New York City in 45 minutes. You’ve got to be prepared for winter though. Winter is no joke.

How old is your oldest and how young is your youngest?

My oldest is 21 and my youngest is 17.

Do they get to watch all your movies? Are you cool with that?

Pretty much. They’re my biggest critics. They’ll let me know if they don’t like my acting. Sometimes if I decide to take a certain role, they’ll read the script and give me their approval. They’ve grown up in the business, you know? The cool part is they’ve become like advisers to me.

They’ve been doing a good job. You’ve been keeping very busy these days.

Yeah, well, it’s just a matter of picking and choosing your roles. I’ve been lucky enough to pick a lot of good material. If I picked bad material I wouldn’t be working.

Well, just to let you know, I’m a member of the Church of Paul Thomas Anderson, so the films you’ve done with him are my favorite of yours.

He’s an incredibly gifted writer and director. He has an incredible vision. He is somebody I’m truly proud of. He’s putting out really, really phenomenal stuff.

I was disappointed “The Master” didn’t get as many accolades at the end of last year as I thought it deserved.

Yeah, well, it’s different. I thought Joaquin Phoenix was phenomenal in the movie. But, really, Paul Thomas Anderson is a master filmmaker.

The Last Stand

January 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville
Directed by: Kim Ji-Woon (“I Saw The Devil”)
Written by: Andrew Knauer (debut)

After spending eight years as the Governor of California, action-star Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the big screen in “The Last Stand.” When a dangerous druglord escapes the custody of the FBI during transportation, he devises a plot to escape to the US/Mexico border through the quiet, small town of Summerton Junction. When former LAPD cop and current Sherriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) finds out, he decides to round up a small team and do everything he can to stop the dangerous criminal.

Schwarzenegger returns to the screen with the type of charisma that made him a bonafide action star in the 80s and 90s. Of course, with that comes unintelligible lines and some very poorly acted scenes, but that is ultimately part of the package and really the charm of his performances. The cast is rounded out with a few comedic actors to wedge between the violence. Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville both get a few decent one-liners out but don’t really add much to the film overall.

In his previous Korean films, most notably in “The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” director Kim Ji-Woon has shown a great knack for constructing unique and exceedingly entertaining action sequences. In his American debut, Ji-Woon sticks mostly to car chases, flying bullets and blood spray. While a few scenes of excessive violence are amusing, the amount of action and pure fun never quite reaches the levels seen in previous films. In fact, the mayhem is pretty standard fare when compared to his other projects.

The introduction of the “escaped fugitive” plot is where the film begins to lose steam. What is supposed to be a captivating creative action sequence is actually quite boring. From here, the film begins to become stale. Bad plots, (complete with massive holes), bad dialogue, and even a few scenes of shoehorned and inauthentic emotion plague most of the movie. The final showdown of the film, while the best part of the movie, is also ultimately a let down.

With his rising age and lack of acting chops, it will be interesting to see where Schwarzenegger’s career will go from here. “The Last Stand” wears out it’s jokes at the expense of Arnold’s age, so any forthcoming reference in other films will be immediately passé. While “The Last Stand” delivers on its promise of gunfire and explosions, it does so in unimpressive and unmemorable fashion. While Schwarzenegger’s presence is entertaining, the story just isn’t interesting enough.

Luis Guzman – Old Dogs

November 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

While there might be a famous proverb that reads, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” actor Luis Guzman has to respectfully disagree.

“Of course you can teach an old dog new tricks,” Guzman, 53, told me during a phone conference to promote his cameo role in the new comedy “Old Dogs,” which stars John Travolta and Robin Williams.“Sometimes you just come across a situation and you learn from it – you’re wowed by it.”

In the film, Travolta and Williams play Charlie and Dan, lifelong best friends and business partners whose lives are turned upside down when they agree to look after 7-year-old twins during the busiest week of their professional careers. Guzman, alongside comedian Dax Shepard (“Baby Mama”), plays an employee of a home safety company hired to childproof Charlie’s apartment when Dan brings the kids to stay over. Along with childproofing the home, Guzman’s character takes it upon himself to eat whatever he finds in the kitchen.

Known for his scene-stealing skills, Guzman had another cameo role last year in the Jim Carrey comedy “Yes Man” where he played a troubled man threatening to jump from a ledge. In the funniest part of the entire movie, Guzman and Carrey sing a duet to the Third Eye Blind song “Jumper.”

Along with his roles in a number of comedies, including “Anger Management” and “Nothing Like the Holidays,” Guzman, who has been in the industry for over 30 years, has starring in such dramatic films as “Traffic,” “Runaway Jury,” and “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story.”

Currently, Guzman, who was born in Puerto Rico, is working on “How to Make it in America,” an HBO show that follows two Brooklyn hustlers trying to achieve the American Dream in the New York fashion scene.

What was it like working with Dax Shepard in your scenes for “Old Dogs?”

I loved working with Dax. I think we have a really good chemistry together. I thought he brought a lot to the table. I think we did a good job complimenting each other. He’s one of those guys that I hope I get to work with again. I just really dig his sense of humor. It works for him.

Tell us about your upcoming HBO show “How to Make it in America.”

I play this guy named Rene who happens to live in the neighborhood I grew up in. Rene is a hustler. He’s a guy who’s been through a lot. He’s been to jail. He finally comes out and is trying to make his life better. But hustling is all he’s ever known. It’s a great story.

You were mentioned on an episode of the NBC comedy “Community” where they erected a statue in your honor on the college campus. Did they call you up for that and ask permission?

That was [director] Joe Russo. I did a movie with him called “Welcome to Collinwood.” They called me up about it. For me, for someone to do this, I thought it was an absolute honor and was flattered by it. It’s cool when people ask you to do stuff like that.

You’ve been in this industry for over 30 years. I’m guessing you’ve already gotten to that point where you can pass on certain projects. Can you give us an example of a role that you might pass on?

I don’t want to play an abusive father or an abusive husband. I don’t want to be in something that is not significant. Sometimes people just want me in something just to have the name. I won’t do that because if it’s not something true to the storyline, then why do it? I don’t want to be exploited like that.

What are some your favorite roles that you’ve had in your career?

I loved my role in “Boogie Nights.” I thought that was a great role for me. I loved my role in “The Count of Monte Cristo” and my role as the DA agent in “Traffic.” I loved my role in a movie called “Maldeamores,” which was a small movie shot in Puerto Rico a few years ago. To be honest with you, I enjoy most of my roles.

Nothing Like the Holidays

December 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Freddy Rodriguez, John Leguizamo, Alfred Molina
Directed by: Alfred De Villa (“ Washington Heights ”)
Written by: Alison Swan (debut) and Rick Najera (debut)

While the number of slapstick Christmas comedies usually go off the charts this time of year as much as Santa’s cholesterol, the Christmas family dramedy is the other holiday sub-genre that usually demands screen time in December.

Last year, “This Christmas” featured an African American family reuniting for the holidays after four years. In 2005, Sarah Jessica Parker met “The Family Stone” and experienced all their dysfunctional love. This year, Christmas gets a little Latin flare Puerto Rican-style with “Nothing Like the Holidays.” The film follows the Rodriguez family from the Humboldt Park area in Chicago as they come together in what might be the final Christmas they spend together as a family.

The reason: Anna Rodriguez (Elizabeth Pena) has announced over dinner that she has decided to divorce her children’s father Edy (Alfred Molina) after 36 years of marriage. She has reason to believe he has been having an affair. No one takes the news lightly including Mauricio (John Leguizamo), one of the Rodriguez boys, who has become a successful lawyer in New York, and his sister Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito), a struggling actress living in Los Angeles.

Freddy Rodriguez (“Grindhouse”) plays Jesse, another Rodriguez brother, back home from Iraq. He thinks his parents are adult enough to make their own decisions. His mind isn’t really focused on his mom and dad’s problems, especially since he has a handful of his own. He has returned home to find his ex-girlfriend Marissa (Melonie Diaz), whom he still loves, has moved on with her life. He is also still haunted by the death of one of his friends in the military.

It’s not only Jesse, however, who has issues. Everyone has something going on in his or her trying life and debut screenwriters Alison Swan and Rick Najera tangle it all together in a cinematic version of stale fruitcake. While storylines that focus on Jesse and his hardships give the film a more serious tone than your average family head-butting session, there’s not much time to build on his character since the script seems sculpted from the blueprint of a tiresome telenovela. Instead, secondary stories like Maruicio and his wife Sarah (Debra Messing) arguing about the best time to have a baby, and issues that revolve around Ozzy (Jay Hernandez), a family friend and ex-gang member who is bothered that the guy who killed his brother years ago has been released from prison and is now hanging out in the old neighborhood.

The scene-stealer of the film is Luis Guzman (“Waiting”), who plays the family’s kooky electronics-loving uncle, but he and Freddy Rodriguez (one of the most talented young Latino actors working today) can’t raise the film above the usual stereotypical family dramedy we get every year. It might be in different packaging this time around, but a pair of socks is a pair of socks no matter how colorful the gift-wrapping.