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Going along to get the laughs

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Luis Guzmán says following Jim Carrey's lead in 'Lemony Snicket' was a comedic pleasure

Whether as a wannabe '70s porn star in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights or a homosexual deviant in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight, Luis Guzmán - though his name may not quickly be attributed to Hollywood - is a man whose face is unforgettable.

Even when moviegoers see him in his newest films and still identify him as Pachanga from the 1993 film Carlito's Way, Guzmán's satisfied.

"I'm proud of who I am," Guzmán told the Current via phone from the Lower East Side of New York City. "You take me as I come."

Born in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Guzmán, 47, has been in over 45 feature films, including Black Rain (1989), directed by three-time Academy Award-nominee Ridley Scott, Mr. Wonderful (1993), directed by Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella, and The Brave (1997), directed by Academy Award-nominated actor Johnny Depp - Depp's first and only film as director and screenwriter.

"Life has been good," Guzmán said. "It's good to be busy. It's good to be wanted."

Currently, Guzmán is filming Carlito's Way: The Beginning, a prequel set 25 years before the original. He is also promoting his newest film, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, starring Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep, and Jude Law.

In Lemony, Guzmán plays a character known only as the Bald Man, a fiendish actor in the shady theater troupe of Count Olaf (Carrey). Guzmán describes his character as someone who needs a little help when it comes to being hygienically savvy.

"My character hasn't been to the dentist in like 15 or 20 years," Guzmán said. "He's got a few cavities going on. It's a great character for me. It's different."

"It's nice to be in a fantasy movie," the first in his 27-year career, Guzmán said. "It's a beautiful movie. It was shot very well. We had a great cast of people, a wonderful crew, and a great director. We had really good chemistry going on."

Guzmán said the strong synergy on the set was largely due to Carrey. Although Guzmán has worked with other comedians before, including Adam Sandler (Punch-Drunk Love) and Eddie Murphy (The Adventures of Pluto Nash), Carrey made filming Lemony an exciting experience.

"Working with him for the first time, I have an enormous respect for him," said Guzmán. "He's not just a comedic actor, he's an incredible actor. He brings so much energy to the set every day. He just loves to play and I love to play along with him."

Guzmán said it was also director Brad Silberling's encouragement to "do things out of the ordinary" that allowed the cast to adlib with the script, but most of the flexibility came from Carrey.

"`Carrey` comes up with stuff out of nowhere," Guzmán said. "I absolutely love that because that's my style. I love to work with people that are not predictable. You don't know what's going to happen one moment to the next. With Jim, he kind of provides that for this movie. You appreciate a guy doing his craft."

By Kiko Martinez


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