Luis Guzman
Birth Date:
January 1, 1957
Birth Place:
Cayey, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican
Show more

Carlito's Pachanga


"Leading men crash and burn. Character actors are around forever." Luis Guzman

Veteran character actor Luis Guzman has been appearing in high profile films since the 1980s, including Sidney Lumet’s “Guilty as Sin” (1993), “Family Business” (1989), “Q & A” (1990), “Carlito’s Way” (1993), “Snake Eyes” (1998) “Traffic” (2000), “The Limey” (1999), “Out Of Sight” (1998) “Boogie Nights” (1997), “Magnolia” (1999) and “Punch-Drunk Love” (2002). The Puerto Rico-born, Lower East Side-raised actor, who specializes in playing tough guys with a heart, also starred in the remake of “The Count of Monte Cristo” (2002; as the pirate Jacopo), “Welcome to Collinwood” (2002), “The Salton Sea” (2002), "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" (2004), "Waiting..." (2005) and "War" (2007). He will star in the upcoming thriller film "Cleaner" and will appear in the gritty action thriller film "The H-Man Cometh."

On television, the 5' 7½" stocky, tough-looking Latino character actor could be seen on the TV shows “NYPD Blue,” “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Frasier” and “Oz.” He starred in the short-lived 2003 television comedy “Luis” and recently co-starred in the canceled 2007 HBO series “John from Cincinnati.”

“I've become, like, this farmer. I live on the top of a mountain and I look out at the birds fighting over the bird table instead of guys fighting over a parking space. It's about as far from my old neighborhood as you can get. But you know what they say, you can take the kid out of the Lower East Side but you can't take the Lower East Side out of the kid.” Luis Guzman

Puerto Rico

Childhood and Family:

“I definitely get it (the roles) from where I grew up. A lot of my roles basically refer to my life quite a bit.” Luis Guzman

Born in Cayey, Puerto Rico, on January 1, 1957, Luis Guzman (last name is pronounced "goosemahn") grew up in Greenwich Village, on the Lower East Side, in New York. In an interview, he explained that his mother traveled to New York fifteen minutes after his birth. His mother, Rosa, was a hospital worker, and his stepfather, Benjamin Cardona, was a TV repairman.

Guzman graduated from City College of New York. He married his present wife, Angelita Galarza-Guzman, in 1985 and they have five children together. He currently resides in Sutton, Vermont, where he owns a ranch called Wild Orchid Stables.

Boogie Nights


"I never thought about pursuing acting as a career. Back then we were mainly performing at block parties. It was a labor of love and it was a lot of fun. The best I thought I could do was maybe make a few extra bucks on the side. All I really wanted was to earn enough to buy myself a used car so I could drive out to Orchard Beach at the weekend. This whole thing is a complete fluke." Luis Guzman

While working as a youth counselor at the Henry Street Settlement House, Luis Guzman, who began acting with a featured part in a high school production of the musical "Bye Bye Birdie,” moonlighted as an actor and became heavily involved in street theater and independent films. In 1983, he made his feature debut in director Bette Gordon's "Variety," a feminist independent film about pornography in which he played a lead role opposite Sandy McLeod.

In the mid 1980s, Guzman first appeared on the small screen with two different guest roles on two episodes of NBC/USA Network's popular and innovative television series starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, "Miami Vice." Afterward, he made his first appearance in a mainstream feature in John Cornell's 1988 Australian adventure and comedy film, “'Crocodile' Dundee II,” starring Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski.

After co-starring as a detective, opposite Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton and Armand Assante in Sidney Lumet's Golden Globe-nominated crime film inspired by Edwin Torres' book, "Q & A" (1990), Guzman played a small part in writer/director James Glickenhaus' independent action film "McBain" (1991), starring Christopher Walken, Maria Conchita Alonso and Michael Ironside. The subsequent year, he made his TV-movie debut with the based-on-book thriller "Quiet Killer" (1992), starring Kate Jackson.

“The first day I met Al Pacino on 'Carlito's Way' (1993), you kind of say 'Wow!' and your hands get cold and sweaty and stuff. He did such great movies and I was so thrilled.” Luis Guzman.

In 1993, Guzman was cast in the breakthrough role of Pachanga in director Brian DePalma's gangster film based on the novels by Judge Edwin Torres, "Carlito's Way," alongside Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller, John Leguizamo and Viggo Mortensen. Guzman said, “The one (role) that really put some bounce in my career is when I did Pachanga in 'Carlito's Way' (1993). The great thing about 'Q & A' (1990) and 'Carlito's Way' is that they were both written by (New York Supreme Court Justice) Edwin Torres, who's from (Spanish Harlem) and really knows the gangster genre. I can't tell you how many Pachangas I grew up with in my neighborhood and that really worked out well for me. To this day, people on the street still say, 'Pachanga, wassup?' It's become a real kind of cult (character).”

Following his breakout performance, Guzman was cast in the recurring role of Hector Martinez on ABC's Emmy-winning police drama "NYPD Blue" and garnered attention for his turn as Chango in Gregg Champion's action comedy film "The Cowboy Way" (1994), starring Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland. He was then cast alongside John Leguizamo on Fox's short-lived Latino-themed sketch comedy television show "House Of Buggin" (1995), which was removed from broadcasting before the completion of the first season.

In 1997, Guzman portrayed Maurice TT Rodriguez in writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's period drama feature "Boogie Nights," which also stars Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore and John C. Reilly. He later earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast and won a Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble Cast.

1998 saw Guzman working again with Brian de Palma for his crime thriller starring Nicolas Cage, "Snake Eyes." He was then cast in a small, but memorably funny, role in director Steven Soderberg's Academy Award-nominated movie "Out of Sight," which was based on the novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard. TV viewers could also catch him co-starring as Raoul 'El Cid' Hernandez (1998-2000) in the HBO dramatic series set in prison, "Oz." In the show's fourth season, his character died from loss of blood after being stabbed by elderly inmate Bob Rebadow (played by George Morfogen).

Meanwhile, Guzman made his second film with writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson in his 1999 ensemble drama film, "Magnolia," which handed Guzman a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture and won him a Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble Cast. He was also cast as Eddie Ortiz in Phillip Noyce's thriller/mystery feature "The Bone Collector" (1999; starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie), which was based on a crime novel written by Jeffery Deaver. Additionally, he played a prominent role in his second outing with Steven Soderberg, the revenge crime drama "The Limey," and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male for his turn as ex-con Eduardo Roel.

Entering the new millennium, Guzman was cast as Ray Castro in Steven Soderberg's Academy Award-winning crime/drama feature adapted from the British Channel 4 television series, "Traffic," with Michael Douglas, Benicio del Toro, Don Cheadle, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid. The film won him a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture.

Two years later, Guzman appeared in D.J. Caruso's dark independent film "The Salton Sea," starring Val Kilmer and Vincent D'Onofrio, and supported Adam Sandler and Emily Watson in writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's dark comedy/romance "Punch-Drunk Love," which won him an Imagen Foundation Award for Best Supporting Actor – Film. He also played Jacopo in Kevin Reynolds' adaptation of Alexandre Dumas adventure novel, "The Count of Monte Cristo," starring James Caviezel, Dagmara Dominczyk, Guy Pearce, and portrayed petty thief Cosimo in the Soderberg-produced feature "Welcome to Collinwood," Anthony and Joe Russo's remake of the 1958 Italian movie “I soliti ignoti” by Mario Monicelli.

Next, Guzman starred in the Fox sitcom "Luis," which unfortunately was canceled after four episodes. Afterward, he played the Bald Man in Brad Silberling's Academy Award-winning film "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" (2004; starring Jim Carrey), which was based on the children's books by Daniel Handler, and was cast as the head cook in Rob McKittrick's independent comedy feature "Waiting..." (2005), with Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long and Anna Faris.

Guzman was next cast in "Fast Food Nation," Richard Linklater's adaptation of investigative journalist Eric Schlosser's non-fiction book. In 2007, He was cast as Ramon Gaviota, the manager and caretaker of the Snug Harbor Motel, in David Milch's short-lived HBO series "John From Cincinnati," and co-starred with Jet Li and Jason Statham in Phillip Atwell's action/thriller film, "War."

Guzman has completed his upcoming film with Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and Eva Mendes titled "Cleaner," a thriller film directed by Renny Harlin in which he will play a detective. He is currently on set filming David O. Russell's comedy movie "The H-Man Cometh," starring Vince Vaughn, and is in talks to star in an upcoming gritty action thriller film titled "Darc."

"My all time favorite actor is Marlon Brando. I admired how effortless and how real he was in his performance in 'On the Waterfront' (1954). To me, he wasn't acting. He was living the role. And that's what I admire about good acting. It's real." Luis Guzman


  • Imagen Foundation: Best Supporting Actor - Film, "Punch-Drunk Love," 2003

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture, "Traffic," 2001

  • Florida Film Critics Circle: Best Ensemble Cast, "Magnolia," 2000

  • Florida Film Critics Circle: Best Ensemble Cast, "Boogie Nights," 1998

Show Less