Forget about lead roles, character roles can also make you star, and Luis Guzman – one of the most prolific character actors that Hollywood has ever seen, is clear proof. Known for his trademark wolf-man face (you can’t miss him in a crowd), the Puerto Rican actor is known for playing the role of a police, thug, or villain’s sidekick.
Luis Guzman Bio
Luis Guzman was born on August 28, 1956, in Cayey, Puerto Rico. About 15 minutes after his birth, his mother, Rosa, a hospital worker relocated to New York where Guzman would be raised in the city’s Greenwich Village as well as the Lower East Side. His step-father, Benjamin Cardona, a TV repairman helped in raising him alongside his brother and sister.
Guzman grew to become a rough kid and at the age of 9 years old, in the 6th grade, he was expelled for two weeks for getting into a brutal fight. However, words from his school dean after his expulsion forced him to turn his life around. Guzman turned on a new leaf and began dedicating his time to serving people in his neighborhood. He helped to build abandoned buildings and tended to gardens.
After graduating from high school, Guzman became a social worker. He landed a job as a youth counselor at the Henry Street Settlement, a social/cultural center on the Lower East Side.
But serving people wasn’t the only thing Guzman was good at, he was also a practical joker who found himself prone to exaggerations and overacting. As a result, Guzman was drawn to performing and became frequent at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe where he would meet Cuban poet Miguel Pinero. Guzman then began acting on the side, just for fun. He appeared in street theater and got the role of an extra in the 1977 film Short Eyes.
In 1985, Guzman received a tip from Pinero that casting was ongoing for the TV series Miami Vice. Guzman aced the auditions which simply required him to put on a fierce look. He appeared in two episodes of the series, which became his professional debut. Guzman continued to act for fun as he couldn’t afford to give away his counseling job.
However, after tragedy struck his home in 1991 when he lost his child, Guzman decided to take acting more seriously. Before this time, he had roles in noteworthy films like “True Believer,” (1989) and Q&A (1990). Guzman has described the latter as his breakthrough film.
Guzman began turning heads with performance in films like Carlito’s Way (1993), and The Cowboy Way (1994). Soon big names like Paul Thomas Anderson came calling. Anderson picked him up for his second film Boogie Nights (1997). Guzman would go on to appear in other Anderson’s projects like Magnolia (1999) and Punch-Drunk Love (2002).
Another illustrious director Steven Soderbergh would come to favor Guzman and have him appear in a number of his films including Out of Sight (1998), The Limey (199), and Traffic (2000). Guzman continues to act to this day, some of his recent endeavors include TV shows, Code Black, Mind Games, and Narcos. On the big screen, he has recently appeared in 9/11 (2017) and The Padre (2018).
Family: Wife and Children
Guzman is a loyal family man. Since 1985, he has remained married to his wife Angelita Galarza-Guzmán who was born in 1959. After six years of marriage, the couple sought to start making children. Unfortunately, their first child, a son died as a result of suffocation during childbirth in 1991.
The experience left Guzman emotionally wrecked and forced him to take about two months off work, after which he returned to Hollywood and took his career more seriously.
By the end of 1991, Guzman and his wife adopted their first baby named Cemi. Subsequently, they adopted another child Yemaya before adding her half-siblings, twins Yoruba and Margarita, bringing the number of Guzman’s adopted kids to four. At the second time of trying, Guzman’s wife found luck with childbirth and successfully delivered their first biological baby Luna, bringing the number of their children to five.
With an endless list of filmography, the prolific actor has paychecks coming in every now and then. His net worth is estimated to fall between $12 million and $15 million. Guzman and his family live in a 128 acre, three-story property in Sutton, Vermont. He calls it his little paradise. The house includes a barn and a horse stable.
He stands at 5 feet 7.5 inches tall (1.7 m)
Luis Guzman voiced the character of Ricardo Diaz in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.
Marlon Brando is his “all-time favorite actor.”
Back in 2003, Luis briefly owned a TV series on Fox titled Luis.
He prefers that his first name is pronounced with the “s” ignored.