Since the 80's, Guzman has appeared in countless films from small indie pictures to big blockbusters and he's also done a lot of work in television. He's a veteran character actor who's carved a niche for himself as a reputable supporting actor (and frequent bad buy), appearing in numerous films alongside some major Hollywood heavyweights like George Clooney and Al Pacino. Unlike those actors whose names appear above the title marquee, who earn huge paychecks and whose celebrity status often outshines their work, Guzman has consistently turned in interesting and compelling performances and has built a solid career by making a bunch of movies each year, with or without major roles and huge paychecks. He has earned recognition simply for the diversity and quality of his work.
He’s gotten a lot of work thanks to two directors who have cast Guzman in several of their films – Steven Soderbergh and Paul Thomas Anderson. Soderbergh cast Guzman in three of his big projects – Out of Sight, The Limey and Traffic, and Guzman appeared in P.T. Anderson’s superb ensemble films Boogie Nights and Magnolia, and in Punch-Drunk Love.
What I like most about Guzman is how honest and natural his screen presence is. I always feel like I’m watching a real guy up there on the big screen and not simply a guy pretending to be another guy. Guzman’s acting is authentic, believable and surprisingly diverse. He’s got impressive comedic talent. He doesn’t have to try to be funny. He just is. He’s also got proven dramatic acting chops which speak to his talent more than anything. He’s an actor’s actor who generally stars in films featuring large casts with several subplots and story lines. He’s been lauded by directors for his strong work ethic and his dedication to his craft.
Early on in his career, Guzman was often typecast as a drug dealer or a violent criminal, but he kept at it and stayed with it and was eventually offered other roles. Today he’s become one of the most heavily employed supporting actors in film. Some of the best actors aren't those whose names we hear and see all the time, but rather those lesser known actors who work and work and work, building vast acting resumes and are notable to film audiences as "that guy" who makes good films better and bad films bearable and an actor who doesn't just play a character, but who has character.
What are your favourite Luis Guzman films? Let us know in the comments section.