Luis Guzman takes a ride on ‘Pelham 1 2 3’

You may not know his name, but when you see him on the silver screen, you will remember him.
His name is Luis Guzman and he has starred in a more then 100 television series and movies that include “Carlito’s Way”, “Boogie Nights”, “Magnolia”, “Punch-Drunk Love”, “Out of Sight” and “Traffic”. He has also two voiceover works as part of the popular video game series, “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City”.
On Friday, Guzman will make his fourth film appearance this year (a cameo in “He’s Just Not That Into You” and roles in “Fighting” and “Still Waiting”) in a remake of the 1974 movie, “The Taking of Pelham 123”, directed by Tony Scott and starring Oscar-winner Denzel Washington and Oscar-nominee John Travolta.
In the movie, Travolta takes over the role that Robert Shaw originates as a lunatic who hijacks a New York City subway train with passengers and only wants to negotiate and talk to Washington’s subway dispatcher (originally played by Walter Matthau).
Guzman was here in Miami to promote the film and The Beacon was able to sit down and interview him. In the movie, Guzman plays Phil Ramos, a former subway employee just recently released from jail who helps Travolta’s character carry out the hijacking.
To prepare for the role, Guzman and the cast had to go through training in order to be familiar with the New York City subway system.
“The first thing you learn is that the third rail will fry you quicker then you can think you’re being fried,” Guzman says. “There is also no such thing as getting hit by a train and walking away. If a train hits you, that is it because a train weighs at least 100,000 tons. You have to respect the system, which is a huge thing”.
Guzman said that the training he received were from the people that worked with the New York City subway system. He also shot his role in 3 ½ months in a compartment that Guzman said was 2 ½ feet by 8 feet.
“You go through all the emotional stages because somebody says to you ‘Come on, your going to make $2 million and it will take an hour’, Guzman says. “If you think you are going to do this and things get ugly, you wish you weren’t there”.
Guzman said that it was amazing working with Scott and Travolta. He also said while they were shooting the film, Scott set up 4 to 5 cameras to shoot at the same time in one take.
“Its amazing to watch Scott as he watches all the different cameras that are ready to film and he is talking to every single camera operator like if he was conducting an orchestra,” Guzman says.
As for working with Travolta, Guzman said that Travolta really poured his heart and energy into the character.
“He did an amazing job with how he approached that character and how he put it out,” Guzman says. “To me, that kind of role is like jumping off a cliff without a parachute and you have every confidence in the world that you are going to survive it because you are that bad ass. You want to find something somewhere that will help break your fall, you hope.”
Before Guzman became an actor, he worked as a social worker in New York City several years ago. Guzman said that as a social worker, Guzman’s job was to help motivate teenagers and to help build up their self-esteem and self-confidence.
“I would get into their heads and ask them what they would want to do in 6 months, a year or 5 years from now to present them in the best way possible,” Guzman says. “That is what I do when I show up, I present myself in the best way possible by being honest and truthful about it”.
Guzman says that he is really humble of his acting career and that he is able to being doing this for a long time.
“I stumbled into this career because all I wanted to do was to make enough money to buy a used car to drive to the beach on the weekends and not take transit,” Guzman says. “I have an amazing life and I am grateful for it everyday”.

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