Interview: Luis Guzman Is Robin To Russell Brand's Batman

Luis now hits movie theaters with Russell Brand and Helen Mirren in Arthur, as Russell Brand's right hand man and chauffuer. He plays straight man to Russell Brand's funny and loveable alcoholic but Luis manages to get a few laughs with his brand of comedic timing. The New York actor especially enjoyed his scenes playing Batman's sidekick Robin and getting in the driver seat of the actual Batmobile.

Luis sat down with CineMovie at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills to catch up with the actor who spills secrets to his success, tips to breaking in, and what it meant to him being the first Latino to get behind the wheel of a superhero's car in Arthur.

Movie Clip: Luis Guzman as Robin and Russell Brand as Batman in ARTHUR

CineMovie: You've worked with the best actors and directors in Hollywood, how was your experience working with Russell Brand?
Luis:  I've never worked with someone so spontaneous as Russell. He's like really sharp, really smart.  And kept me on my toes.  Whatever he delivered, I was happy to deliver back to him.  We worked really worked well together.  It was fun.  It was great showing up every day.

CineMovie:  How did you meet Russell?
Luis:  We spoke over the phone. Then we Skyped and then we met face to face. So went through all the steps to make sure we wanted to meet each other. We hit it off very well.

CineMovie:  The scene in Arthur where you are dressed as Robin and Russell as Batman is hilarious.  How did you manage to keep a straight face?
Luis:  I'll tell you what.  When I first put that on, I was like 'What the hell!' But when I saw it, and you see how it looks in the monitor.  I think its hysterical.  It was funny.  I think I damaged a lot of Robin fans... it a good way.   You kidding me.  That was so much fun.

CineMovie:  Was that the real Batmobile you drove in the film?
Luis: That's the real Batmobile. We could say a Latino has definitely [driven] the Batmobile. And the DeLorean. I think a couple of Latinos have driven a couple of Rolls Royces. When we're driving in the Batmobile, I'm really having fun. I was like "c**o, latino in the Batmobile.  Watch out!  I don't see no red lights.

CineMovie:  How much of the dialogue in Arthur was improvised?
Luis:  Some of the stuff was definitely made up.  And when you make stufff like that, you can't think too much about it.  I try not to think about it. I just kind of do it. That's been my story pretty much in my career. You put me in a situation and it's like 'let's go.'  Sometimes you do have to think about it because you have to make it specific  but the less you think about it, the more spontaneous.  The more natural. The more funny it becomes.
Luis Guzman in Arthur movie

CineMovie:  Has a director ever told you to stick to the script?
Luis: I've never had that happen to me.  I'm that f**in' good.  (laughter)  I was just kidding.  It just so happens again, its one of those things you don't think about it. You go ahead and you do it. I've been blessed.

You really don't work at comedy.  You just let it happen.  The problem is sometimes, you try to be funny, you are not going to come across funny.

When I wore that Robin outfit, I wasn't thinking about being funny. I was like 'sh** man, look what I'm wearing.  He got the nice outfit.  Look at me I got the Wal-mart special.  In size small. I don't know if you saw my whole outfit, but I'm wearing white socks with black shoes. to me that's real.  People do that.  I've seen that.  I've lived that.  I've done that.  You kind of employed all those things together and it's going to look funny.

CineMovie: Working with Russell Brand and Helen Mirren, were you ever tempted to imitate their English accents?  
Luis:  I wouldn't even make an attempt. I was happy with my New York  'I love my accent.' Actually you just appreciate the language so much because they are so eloquent.  Its lovely to hear.  I love it.

CineMovie:  You've had a very long career, what is the secret to your succes?
My secret is I have avena every morning.  Oatmeal.  And once in a while a pink grapefruit.  And definitely some Latino coffee. And pay my taxes.  

No, I've been blessed, you know.  I love what I do.  I show up.  I love complimenting people. I've been blessed in getting really great material to work with. I think my ying yang flows right. I guess a lot has to do with Luis Guzman being Luis Guzman.  You will never see me on TMZ.   

CineMovie:  You've worked with top talent and directors.  Are there any you'd love to work with again?
That list is so long.  I don't know if we have time.  I love workign with people like Paul thomas Anderson, Soderbergh, Adam Sandler, Denzel, and even with Benicio.  Look man.  Working with anybody as long as the material is good and there.

CineMovie:  What is your advice for Latinos wanting to break into showbiz?
Luis:  Just pursue it.  Go for your dreams.  Keep knocking on the doors. Create your own thing.  Own it. Surround yourself with good people.  Anybody can produce, write, direct or act or do music. Just blending all that and bringing all those things together.  Anything is possible.

CineMovie:  How has the opportunities changed for Latinos since you started in the business?
I do see more opportunities out there.  I also see more Latin characters.  I also see directors, producers, writers, and the crews.  My biggest frustration at times is just bringing all that together.  Everybody has to create their own opportunities.  

I hear the question a lot, 'you think Hollywood is letting Latinos in?'  It's not about that anymore. It's about creating your own opportunities, man.  It's all there. Twenty-five years ago we had 10 channels. Today we have 700 of them or god knows how many. The independent movies are huge. Of course you have all the studio pictures but it's an independent world.  Anybody could create an opportunity. Anybody!  The thought is not that we're still limited. Part of the problem is that we limit ourselves.

CineMovie:   Are you working on any personal projects?
Luis:  I just love working.  There's a book out right now called "Bodega Dream" that I hope to develop into a movie.  There's a couple of comedies that I got in development. I just want to keep working and doing good work, and surrounding myself with good people.

CineMovie:  What message do you have for your fans?
Luis: Everybody come see Arthur.  It's going to make me look so good.  I'm representing my people the best way I can.  And being funny.  Just love me because I love you back.

Luis Guzman is currently in production on the second season of HBO's "How To Make It In America" in New York and recently wrapped Journey 2: The Mysterious Island playing Vanessa Hudgens father.  

Arthur is in theaters April 8, 2011.


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