Meet the Real Guillermo Diaz

Posted on 11. Dec, 2009 by Administrator in Profiles

Guillermo Diaz gained notoriety playing a thug named Guillermo on the hit Showtime series, Weeds. The native New Yorker with fiery eyes and stubbly mug instilled the character with a universal magnetism: Women feared but were attracted to him, men despised but respected him. As for the Guillermo I spoke with, his easy and engaging laugh quickly dispelled any notion that Weeds Guillermo had shown up instead.

In the Kevin Smith - directed A Couple of Dicks, to be released Feb. 26, Diaz will serve up more intrigue and intimidation as a tough guy who comes into possession of a valuable baseball card that Bruce Willis is extremely determined to get back. He can currently be seen as Nurse Angel Garcia in the NBC hit series Mercy. But for Diaz, who was born in Washington Heights and attended school in the Bronx, his Showtime namesake is what gets him recognized more than any other role.

Guillermo Diaz photo by Gregg Delman

h: What’s  your experience been like playing a pivotal character on Weeds?
GD: Playing Guillermo has been like a dream job for me. I came into a show that people know, love, and watch, and I was fortunate enough that the writers and the audience really enjoy him.  I think from the moment I walk into a rehearsal and I see Mary-Louise [Parker], I automatically change into the character.

h: Tell me about your character in the new Kevin Smith film.

GD: He’s a gang leader obsessed with baseball. And he likes to hurt people.

h: So it’s a comedy.

GD: [laughs] A dark comedy, yeah. And with Kevin Smith directing I think it’s gonna be a pretty great film. Kevin is so quick and so witty. He had so many great ideas, and he knows exactly what he wants. He was one of those directors who I always wanted to work with so I feel really lucky that he chose me to be in the film.

h: How would you compare Poh-boy, your character in A Couple of Dicks, to Guillermo in Weeds?

GD: Guillermo kinda does everything with a smirk. I don’t know, he’s just sort of always giggling inside. And Poh-boy, he’s just an angry, angry person. I imagine he had a really fucked-up childhood. When I first got the role, I thought, ‘Oh shit, this is a lot like Guillermo,” and then when we started shooting and I started working with Kevin and Bruce [Willis] and Tracy [Morgan], I started figuring out the character and realized he was really different from Guillermo. It was exciting to find that, you know, ‘cuz they’re both leaders of hardcore gangs, so they could’ve been really similar.

h: You play Nurse Angel Garcia on NBC’s new hit, Mercy. How close is Angel to your real personality?

GD: It’s weird that I find it difficult to play Angel—cuz he’s a lot more like me—than to play Guillermo or Poh-boy, cuz they’re just so completely different from who I am. I guess it’s easy to get lost in a character and play and take risks and not think ‘Oh, I’m being myself.’ I don’t know if that makes sense.  But I’m having a lot of fun with Angel.

h: Would you say the roles that are closest to your own personality are the most challenging for you?

GD:  Yeah, I don’t know why. I’ll question myself, am I being real? Is this organic? Cuz it feels so much like me. So it’s making me learn to trust myself, to like myself, and just be myself in front of the camera. A lot of why I became an actor was because I was picked on a lot in high school and people just fucked with me a lot. I did a talent show, and after that all the kids that fucked with me were liking me. I mean, I loved acting and being onstage, but part of it was ‘This is what is getting people to like me, being an actor.’ So playing a role that’s like me, I’m like, ‘Oh shit, This is me, people aren’t going to like this.’

h: You recently finished a film with Sarah Silverman and Rainn Wilson called Peep World.

GD: [laughs] I’d forgotten about that movie. It’s about a dysfunctional Jewish family. One of the sons decides to write a book about all the dysfunctions in the family, and they start getting freaked out that he’s putting all their personal stories in this book. Most of my [scenes] are with Rainn Wilson. He plays the brother who’s not doing so well, constantly borrowing money and slacking off, and I play a guy trying to collect on a loan, and I get pulled into the whole family drama as well.

h: I would imagine he’s fun to share awkward moments with when the camera’s rolling.

GD: [laughs] To say the least, yeah.

h: What’s your goal for the next year?

GD: Um, we’re gonna be shooting Mercy until April, cuz the network ordered a full season, which is amazing. So that’s all that’s in my head right now. Also, I’m obsessed with horror movies. I would love to do a really great horror movie after the show wraps. What’s your favorite horror movie?

h: I would say The Ring was great when it came out, the first one. The spookiest experience I ever had in a movie theater was I went and saw The Grudge about a month after it came out for a weekday matinee and I sat alone in the theater. By myself.

GD: Oh my god, dude, I’m gettin’ fuckin’ chills right now! That movie is so scary.

h: I had one eye closed and I was just hoping someone didn’t come sit down three rows behind me.

GD: You know the little girl from The Ring?

h: Daveigh Chase.

GD: Yeah, she’s a guest star on Mercy right now, and she’s playing a hermaphrodite. Isn’t that fuckin’ great?

h: Sure. [Trying to overcome a jolt of disturbing imagery] Is there anything you miss about the West Coast when you’re back East?

GD: I’m obsessed with Ethiopian food and I love going down to Little Ethiopia. You can’t get that in New York. And the pot stores. I miss those, too.

-Jason Dean

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