|Birth date:||August 28, 1956.|
|Birthplace:||Cayey, Puerto Rico.|
|Breakthrough:||The role of a dead squad member in the “Free Verse” episode of the show Miami Vice on April 4, 1986.|
For an actor who often plays thugs and criminals on screen, Luis Guzmán is actually an incredibly kind and generous person. As you’ll see from this brief Luis Guzmán biography, his life and accomplishments are very inspiring and provide a great example for young Latinos striving to make a difference in their communities.
By far this Boricua is one of my favorite personalities because he combines success along a passion for giving and becoming an example for many Hispanics to follow. For starters, he lives a low profile life in Vermont with his wife Angelita Galarza and 5 children, four of them adopted.
Born in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Luis Guzmán grew up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where he got his first taste of acting in a high school play. However, acting remained little more than a hobby for much of Guzmán’s early life.
After graduating from City College, he worked at the Henry Street Settlement House as a youth counselor and social worker. He was excited by the prospect of using street theater to increase awareness of social and political issues facing the local community, and during these early years being an actor was essentially just a secondary role for Luis Guzmán the activist.
Guzmán appeared in his first film, Short Eyes, in 1977, but his big break into TV and movie acting didn’t come until 1986, when he made a guest appearance on Miami Vice. It all happened when Miguel Piñero, who was writing for Miami Vice, gave him a number to call for an audition.
He earned this guest spot on the strength of a fortuitous audition with the show’s producer, who asked Guzmán to “kill” him with his eyes. He complied, giving that dark, passionate, brooding look that soon became his trademark.
As Guzmán’s career progressed, he began playing cops as well as thugs. He established himself as one of the leading character actors in Hollywood, and became a particular favorite of directors like Stephen Soderbergh and Paul Thomas Anderson.
Here are some of the most famous Luis Guzman movies and TV shows:
- Short Eyes (1977)
- Variety (1983)
- Miami Vice (1986)
- Crocodile Dundee 2 (1988)
- The Hard Way (1991)
- McBain (1991)
- Carlito’s Way (1993) – One of my favorites
- Boogie Nights (1997)
- Oz (HBO series 1998-2000)
- Out of Sight (1998)
- The Limey (1999)
- Magnolia (1999)
- Traffic (2000)
- The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
- Cleaner (2007)
- The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
- The Last Stand (2013)
Making a Difference
The most interesting part of his bio in my opinion, is that throughout all his Hollywood success, Luis Guzman has never forgotten his background as a community activist and social worker.
Any Luis Guzmán biography has to give equal weight to his charitable accomplishments in order to really capture the essence of his life. As Guzmán told Samaritanmag.com, “Having a wonderful career and being in a position that gives me so much pleasure has always made me want to give back.”
Guzmán frequently spearheads fundraisers and other charitable projects, along with donating his time to various causes. For example, in 2011 he put together a fundraiser to support victims of Hurricane Irene, and in 2012 he began working as producer on a reality TV show providing homeless shelter makeovers across the country, a very creative way to give back to the community, don’t you think?.
Guzmán particularly enjoys giving motivational speeches at schools in disadvantaged or otherwise troubled neighborhoods. His goal is to inspire people to better themselves and others by pursuing careers of service.
He often mentions that joining the Coast Guard, becoming a teacher, or even becoming an actor are all ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and get in a position where they can also help others. This Luis Guzmán biography shows how he continues to be an inspiring example of how to pursue your dreams and also give back to your community.