Mugging for Laughs
Luis Guzman gets tired of seeing two antlered visitors who keep ambling up to his house on his 380-acre farm in Vermont. He’ll go out and shoo the moose away in a voice you don’t normally hear out in these woods: “Yo! You need to go, dude,” says Guzman in his thick blend of New York and Puerto Rican accents. “You’re in my space.”
The intruders remain oblivious to Guzman, 46, but moviegoers know that street-tough mug from dozens of films (Boogie Nights, Anger Management). Still, “when he breaks out into this big smile, that’s the real Luis,” says Will Gluck, creator of Guzman’s new sitcom, FOX’s Luis, about a doughnut-shop owner in New York City’s Spanish Harlem. “It’s like my old neighborhood,” says Guzman, who was raised with his brother and sister in downtown Manhattan by his mom, Rosa, a hospital worker, and her husband, Benjamin Cardona, a TV repairman.
Despite performing in street theater after high school, Guzman went into social work. But when he and his wife, Angelita Galarza-Guzman, 44, lost their first child at birth in 1991, he reevaluated his life and decided to pursue acting. As he racked up credits, he racked up kids: He and his wife, a stay-at-home mom, now have five children, ages 7 to 11, four of them adopted. “He’s got a huge heart,” says his friend, actor Don Cheadle. “The kids are the centerpiece of his life.”
Right now, Papi is off in L.A. working throughout the week, but he’s still a presence in Vermont. In the living room sits a special-effects replica of him made for the film Traffic. “At first the kids were scared of it,” he says. “Now they just smack it all the time.”