In an industry built on looks, it’s somewhat surprising that an actor like Luis Guzman would have a Hollywood career. He’s pudgy has a face like a bulldog, and his Nuyorican accent is oh so thick. Despite all of this (or because of it), the lovable actor has become one of the most prominent role players in film. In honor of his accomplishment—and to celebrate the DVD release of his film “The Caller”—we’ve compiled our five favorite acting performances.
We first caught a glimpse of Luis Guzman’s genius as TT Rodriguez in Dirk Boogie Nights. In a movie with a ridiculously amazing ensemble cast, he stands out. Our man plays a character that works at the nightclub where Dirk Diggler and his porn cohorts hang out when they aren’t doing blow or each other. All TT wants is to act in one of the pornos. He finally gets to play a bartender in one, though he doesn’t get to do Rollergirl, which is a shame. He tells Julian Moore’s character, “I’m the ultimate Latin lover. Ain’t no Latin lover that’s better than me.” Indeed, Luis.
In Carlito’s Way Luis plays Pachanga, Carlito’s right hand dude. He’s one of the only people that didn’t desert Carlito while he was in jail. His loyalty, however, wanes throughout the film due to his friend’s questionable actions. Much like Brutus in Julius Caesar (yes, we read… sometimes), Pachanga struggles between staying true to Carlito and power. We won’t spoil it for you, but stuff gets real.
Luis seems like a cuddly Puerto Rican teddy bear in real life but he was utterly terrifying in the HBO prison drama OZ. He played Raoul “El Cid” Hernandez, the psychotic head of the El Norte Latino gang. El Cid kills and intimidates his enemies with impunity. The two things we learned from OZ are: 1) Don’t go to prison. There is a lot of rape there. 2) Don’t mess with Luis Guzman.
In the recent Arthur remake starring Russell Brand, Luis plays the titular character’s faithful driver Bitterman. Let’s for a second overlook the fact that an obviously Puerto Rican man is playing a dude named Bitterman (and that Russell Brand is horrible and should die in a fire). If you’re willing to get past that, you’re actually in for a hilarious performance. In this version of the film Bitterman becomes a fully developed character (just about the only nice thing you can say about Arthur). He’s a little slow, but he cares about his boss and doesn’t judge him regardless of his idiotic behavior. He becomes Arthur’s sidekick on his many drunken adventures through Manhattan. In the first scene he gets to dress like Robin and drive the Batmobile. The Batmobile, people.
Call us immature and sophomoric, (you wouldn’t be the first), but we love Waiting. This film about how much it sucks to be a waiter at a crappy chain restaurant is hilarious. Luis plays Raddimus, the head chef. He’s the one that demonstrates to the new waiter Mitch the rules of the sexual harassment lawsuit nightmare that is the penis showing game. The object of the game is to trick your fellow coworkers to look at your genitals, while simultaneously making junk origami out of it. “The batwing…eww…it’s so veiny.”