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Luis Guzman has more than 60 feature films to his credit, including Carlito's Way, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Out of Sight, Traffic and his latest with Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Last Stand. Guzman puts on his comedic hat to play Figgie, an endearing deputy willing to risk his life for the safety of his town.
I got the opportunity to chat with Luis Guzman about the Governator, joining forces with Paul Thomas Anderson, his view on Latinos in Hollywood, and who he'd most like to work with next.
Fandango: When are we going to see you team up with P.T. Anderson again?
Luis Guzman: I think that time will come. I just think the material has to be right. We're still friends. We still stay in touch. I thought The Master was amazing. Joaquin Phoenix did a phenomenal job. I love Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, he shows up every time.
Fandango: When you first started working with Anderson he was relatively unknown. What are your thoughts now on his successful career?
Guzman: He's like in the same frame as Robert Altman. I know that he and Robert were very good friends. The thing about Paul is that he's one of those incredible writers. He has that gift for writing and putting on the page. He knows how to pick talent. He's pretty phenomenal.
Fandango: You've worked with many big names and now you can add Arnold Schwarzenegger to the list. Was it a big moment for you?
Guzman: I got to work with the Governator and yea, I felt like, yes, I have arrived. It's interesting when you've had the career that I've had. I've worked with everybody and then all of a sudden, oh, snap, there's the Terminator, there's Conan himself. That's what I love about my business, that you can come across these situations. Arnold is a great guy, really smart and enthusiastic. I really enjoyed my time with him.
He's done some really cool entertaining movies but you have to give him credit for what he's accomplished. He went on to become the governor of California, two terms, and that speaks volumes because it's like…you mean that guy had that brain inside of him? Yes, he does. He's a progressive thinker.
Fandango: You and Arnold both have careers spanning several decades. What's the secret to having a long career in Hollywood?
Guzman: I'm a guy that shows up to do my job and makes everybody feel good. I really apply myself. I never know what I'm going to do from one moment to the next. I love comedy so I think it is part of my nature. I'm happy being there and complementing whatever is going on. My advice is always treat people the way you want to be treated. Be kind, be giving, don’t judge and be a total team player. Stay away from the bad stuff, the drugs and alcohol. Don’t do things that are going to give you bad press.
Fandango: What's your take on Latinos in Hollywood? Do studios have the upper hand?
Guzman: We are the mainstream. There's nothing that Hollywood needs to do because we are here and we are part of the mainstream. We make up a huge portion of the population in this country. I think it's more about what opportunities Latinos are willing to give each other. I'm not about Latinos doing movies for Latinos. I'm about Latinos doing films that entertain people. I think that's a trap. Do we need Latino movies? We just need good stories that people want to go see. We have talent, directors, producers, writers, composers, you name it. What I would like to see is people within the Latin community that have money step up and say, yeah, here's five million dollars for this, go do it. I don’t think it's a matter of Hollywood studios. I think that to me is the biggest gap there is. It's not about what opportunities Hollywood is giving us but about what opportunities we're creating for us."
Fandango: I think Robert Rodriguez comes from the same school of thought.
Guzman: Robert makes movies that everybody is going to see. He's not making a movie for one audience. He's making a movie for the universe to see. You can definitely have a Latin movie but is the context and theme of that movie going to attract people to it?
Fandango: What about Diego Luna's Cesar Chavez biopic?
Guzman: Cesar Chavez is a universal man. Cesar Chavez was our Martin Luther King. The world gravitated to that, it wasn’t just Latinos. He was a man with a human cause.
Fandango: Any actors that you're still itching to work with? What's on that bucket list?
Guzman: Oh, there are many people. One guy who I particularly love is Javier Bardem… are you drooling right now?
Fandango: A little bit.
Guzman: I just think he's so phenomenal. I believe he comes from the same state of mind that I come from and that's just doing it, putting it out there and going for it. I absolutely love him.
Fandango: Man, we need to make that happen.
Guzman: Can you please start that campaign already? [Laughs]
Fandango: We need to put it out there on Twitter. Are you on it? What's the most bizarre thing that has happened to you thanks to Twitter?
Guzman: My Twitter followers are so amazing. You can find me @IAMLuisGuzman. Sometimes I find family that I haven’t heard of in years. A little while ago, actually, some girl who is my cousin's daughter, she writes: "Luis Guzman, es tu prima…la nieta de Don Coto." And I go, oh my god, that's my uncle.