Luis Guzmán Breaks Poker Face Episode 8

Luis Guzmán talks about his admiration for Natasha Lyonne, what drew him to PokerFace, more Gomez in Wednesday's Season 2 and his dream project .

Created by Rian Johnson, Poker Face follows Charlie Cale as he travels the country trying to stay out of the sight of dangerous casino owners. Charlie's uncanny ability to spot lies and solve puzzles often gets her into trouble. In each town she stops in, Charlie encounters a unique cast of characters who pull her into a mystery that she inevitably uses her skills as a human lie detector to solve.

In Poker Face's eighth episode, "Orpheus Syndrome," co-written and directed by star and executive producer Natasha Lyonne, special effects artist Arthur (Nick Nolte) unearths his past. A dark secret that changed everything. When footage from an old project reveals the horrific truth about a fatal accident, a deadly conspiracy unfolds and Charlie is left to figure out what happened in the past and how it connects to today's deaths. Poker Face features an ever-expanding star-studded cast that includes "Orpheus Syndrome" like Nick Nolte, Cherry Jones, Tim Russ and Luis Guzman.

Screen Rant spoke with Guzman about his role in Poker Face 8. The actor revealed he was drawn to Project because of his admiration for Natasha Lyonne and discussing what it was like working with her as an actress and director. He also shares new insights into his own personality and what motivates his decisions.

Luis Guzmán on Poker Face Episode 8

Screen Rant: Excellent work by Poker Face. You are a proven legend, my friend. How did you and Rian Johnson start this collaborative process? How did you get into the Poker Face project?

Luis Guzmán: Well, I was sent the script and I read it and I said, "This is pretty interesting." I'll be honest with you, what drew me to this project more than anything was Natasha Lyonne, because I've always admired her work. There's just something about her artistry that I absolutely admire. I didn't know she was directing, but when I heard I'd be working with her, I said, "Oh, please, yes." And then when I showed up, and I found out she was directing, I go, "Wow, this girl is taking it to another level here." And I got to tell you, I was super impressed with her total ability of what she did. I think we've had a wonderful collaboration with each other. I was falling in love the whole time I was there.

This is awesome. I thought the series did a fantastic job with the structure of the show. It really broke it down, and it really kept the audience guessing all the way. Can you talk to me about your character, Raoul, and what you wanted to bring to him that didn't necessarily end up on the page?

Luis Guzmán: What I wanted to bring to Raoul pretty much was just a guy that does the job. It's not the best job in the world, but it's a job, and it pays his bills. And all of a sudden he's drawn into this situation, and it's like, "Okay, it's giving me some meaning to my job. Yay. Finally." And meeting Charlie and just trying to figure out like, "Yo, really, what's going on here?" But it made me feel as the character Raoul, somebody that was doing a service, a real service to justice at the end. And just to be a part of that and not having a detective role in there and saying, "Okay, kid, I got it from here." Because there was none of that.

What do you think inspired Lauer to help his friend, risk his job, and then help Charlie with his investigation?

Luis Guzmán: Well, because [his] boss, Terri Jones, she kind of let [him] down, really let [him] down. [He] didn't expect that from her. And then to fire [him] the way she fired [him] and to think, "Wow." So [he] never really had any value to her.

Your performance makes Lauer so real. You can't get into the depths of his backstory, but did you create a backstory for him to help you build your show?

Luis Guzman: Just a guy that's been working in a dungeon for many years, and I've seen some really, really super cool stuff. And I've been doing that for, I don't know, like 20 years or something. So it became being a token booth. So you show up, and you know what you're going to do.

Natasha Lyonne is excellent in the role of Charlie. But in episode 8, She begins to direct. Can you talk to me about what her directing style brought to the show and working with her?

Luis Guzmán: The collaboration was beautiful, man. We had an incredible energy between us two. Our chemistry was really super awesome. I've said this today in a few interviews, but I'm a fan boy. So I see her work, and it was, like I said, it's really what drew me to this. And man, she was so prepared. Because one thing that I do as an actor, I don't normally hang out in my trailer, and in between takes and stuff, I just kind of hang around and then go around, because I like to observe people. And I was observing her, and man, she was so spot on, man. I was every moment just blown away by how intricate she was, how much attention she paid to all the details and stuff of her shot selection. She wouldn't settle just for this or for that, and this. And she got what she wanted. She had the vision. She showed up with a vision of what she was going to direct, not only acting, which is really, really incredible to experience.

Natasha made some really interesting directorial choices, especially in the final moments of the episode, which were great. Talk to me about her preparation for this episode and working directly with you.

Luis Guzmán: Well, I can't tell you what she did as far as preparation because I just showed up for that last episode. But we hit it off, man. We hit it off like that. It was like showing up to a blind date, and I was like, "I'm liking this." And like I said, it was a beautiful chemistry. We had a beautiful flow. And she would shoot me with ideas. There was one moment that she was directing everybody, and then she comes up to me, and she's looking at the script, and she looks at me, and she looks at the script and said, "You know what to do. Go for it."

Rian Johnson was able to revive many of these classic mystery-style detective stories. Now they are called howcatchem's. But what is it about Rian's style as a writer and producer that really draws people in?

Luis Guzmán: Well, people always love a good mystery, People always love that whole aspect of whodunnit. And it's the person that you least expect. And it's like, "Wait, are you kidding me? Man, I never saw that coming." And when you see something like that, it takes a real brain to come up with that type of storyline. And it's not your normal thing, which is beautiful. Do you ever watch something and just think, "Man, I know who did it?" And sure enough, it's who did it. But you ever watch something and said, "Oh, damn?"


Luiz Guzmán: It was Scooby Doo. It was Felix the Cat. So he has a unique style, and I'm glad that he's doing what he's doing.

Shift gears for a second, I loved you on Wednesday. Will we see more Gomez Adams on Season 2 Wednesdays?

Luis Guzmán: That's the plan. I'm going to dance, I'm going to have a sword fight. And there was one other thing. I don't know what it was, but yeah.

The dancing and fencing, that's great. That's what I want to see from Gomez Adams. Back to Poker Face, I love the episodic storytelling, where each episode feels like a mini movie. How does it feel to be on Poker Face on TV compared to the film?

Luis Guzmán: I don't really compare them. Because it's still the art of acting. Poker Face though, it was really deliberate where most TV is like you're racing a clock. And you got to make your dailies and stuff. And I felt that in Poker Face, it was really deliberate, really well thought out. That's why the product that you see is a damn good product. The footage, the acting, in my particular episode, all those freaky monsters and stuff. I'm happy I did this episode, because when I walked in, I said, "Oh, shit, this is like, hey, am I allow to take pictures of this stuff?" Because I just love this type of stuff. It blew me away. And so, like I say, it is different in that sense, because again, you're not racing the clock. You're there to be creative and getting the work done.

How do you bring people in and care about the authenticity of these characters and stories in such a short period of time? because I think the writing is great, but you bring an extra level of authenticity to the characters.

Luis Guzmán: It's what I do. But it's also an homage to the writing. Because if you don't have that in the writing, you're not going to get to solving it. So you got to really be on that track. And not necessarily a fast track, but a track of like, "Okay. Clue, clue, clue. Okay. It's getting hot in here. Clue, clue, clue. It's getting hotter. Clue, clue, clue. Bingo. It was you."

Listen, Mr. Guzman, this is the last question I want to ask you. Like I said, you've done it all. You are an absolute legend. Is there a genre you haven't tried yet?

Luis Guzmán: Oh, man. Genre. I had an idea, and I still have an idea, and actually a friend of mine wrote it. So it's a comedy, a dramedy, satire type of deal that the state of Vermont gets kicked out of the union. I become the first president of Vermont. And we just do things differently up here.

About Poker Face

Poker Face follows Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne), who as she hits the road in her trusty Plymouth Barracuda, has an uncanny ability to tell if someone is cheating on her. Each stop brings her into a new mystery with unique characters she can't help solve. Ryan Johnson's new series is a "how to catch 'em" mystery style inspired by TV classic film Columbus.

Check out our other Poker Face interviews here:

Next: Charlie's Poker Face lie detector gift explained (& is it really reliable?)

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