Luis Guzman: ‘Show Takes You Inside Emergency Room’

Luis Guzman, who has starred in more than 60 feature films, dropped by CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones to discuss his new show, Code Black, a heart-pounding medical drama that airs Wednesday nights on CBS.

But first, Guzman was asked about his acting career, which includes roles in Boogie Nights, Anger Management and He’s Just Not That Into You, among others.

“Sometimes it’s being at the right place at the right time,” Guzman said. “Sometimes it’s just making the connections with different directors and producers. Sometimes I just don’t know what it is myself. My job is showing up and doing what I do.”

Guzman, who is from Puerto Rico, had no formal acting training when his career took off in the 1980s.

“Well, I was a youth counselor on the lower east side of New York City, and one day a couple of young people didn’t show up to my program,” Guzman said. “I went out to the street to look for them and I ran into a good friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a few years. He told me he was writing for a TV show and that they were coming to New York and they were going to be looking for people, so I went in and auditioned. The next thing I knew, I was co-staring on the season premier of Miami Vice. (I) was not pursuing the idea of becoming an actor at all. It’s just one of those things that happened.”

Gregg Giannotti has always admired Guzman’s work, especially his role as Rene Calderon in How to Make It in America, which was canceled after two seasons. Why did that show not work for HBO?

“Because they’re a bunch of knuckleheads,” Guzman said, prompting laughter from Giannotti and Brian Jones. “I, just like you, was very disappointed, sometimes unfortunately with these things it becomes about numbers and stuff. It doesn’t become about the quality. I thought it was a great show. I can’t tell you – to this day, people are asking, ‘Hey, are they going to do another season?’ We’re talking four years ago now that they canceled this show. So I know it had its impact on a lot of people’s psyche and it inspired a tremendous amount of people. But they made the decision and I believe, to this day, it was the wrong decision.”

Guzman, of course, hopes that Code Black has a long run of success.

Code Black was inspired by a documentary called Code Black,” Guzman explained. “It’s inspired by L.A. County Hospital here in Los Angeles. Code black is when a hospital exceeds its capacity as far as patients go and the ratio between patients and doctors or nurses. It’s pretty intense in code black. We have what’s called ‘center stage.’ It’s where you see the most serious injured people. It’s just a really intense show. Really well-written, we have an incredible cast of people, the stories are really great – it’s a great show. It’s different. Sometimes when people go to the emergency room and they’re outside waiting for a friend or a relative, they wonder what goes on inside. This show pretty much takes you inside to what’s going on. It answers all those questions.”

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