As Huck, he’s a former CIA agent, who has assassinated world leaders and is trained in torture. Let’s not forget that he did pull out Quinn’s teeth because she “could never mind her own business.”
Huck has a scowl that projects: “Cross me, and you, too, could find yourself in need of an orthodontic surgeon.”
Away from the ABC monster hit, at a network party in Pasadena, Díaz is relaxed and, dare we say it? Giggly. Yes, giggly. And incidentally, his tattoo is of Madonna.
Díaz loves chatting with whomever stops by, squeezing shoulders, thanking people for watching. Once he finds out that he’s talking with someone from the old neighborhood he settles in and reminisces about the hood, the first time on stage and roles that have taken him from a 19-year-old playing Spike to a 39-year-old in a juicy role on one of TV’s most successful dramas.
He was at St. Nicholas of Tolentine, a Catholic school in the Bronx, when his future became clear. Since Scandal star Kerry Washington is from the Bronx, the two have bonded over this. To be clear, though, Diaz is from Washington Heights, a part of Manhattan that’s an easy jaunt away.
“There was a talent show and I did the Beastie Boys,” he says, a huge smile crossing his face. “And then I knew. Before that I had no inkling I wanted to be on stage or anything. When I got in stage, I never felt more comfortable than anywhere else than on that stage. And that’s when I knew what I wanted to do.”
He didn’t know anyone in the business, but he was a savvy enough kid to start reading the trades.
“Once I figured it out, I started buying Backstage,” he says. “You had to buy the newspaper and circle auditions.”And so he started making the rounds and performing wherever he could.
“I did plays and student films,” Diaz recalls. “I went to Baruch College, but I only went for two years. I eventually got an agent and started working.”
Before too long he was cast in Stonewall (1995), the story of the gay bar in Greenwich Village that was ground zero for the gay rights movement. Díaz played La Miranda, a drag queen.
Over the years, Díaz has split his career between films and TV. He spent years doing one-off guest shots until Chappelle’s Show, and played regular characters on a few short-lived series including Mercy and No Ordinary Family until landing a five-year gig on Weeds.
Díaz doesn’t give the usual answer about how it all comes down to the writing when he chooses projects. Instead, he says, “I just love to act. It is all kind of the same for me. I am trying to be a real pro.”
As a pro, he has contributed to the evolution of his character, and he sees how Huck has changed.
“He is in a place now where he wants to be a better man,” Díaz says. “He has a dark side. There’s a change now because of his son and he’s stopped torturing people and likes it.”
Diaz answered our 5 Questions:
1. You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which ones do you choose?
Interview, Vanity Fair, Out.
2. If your TV carried just three shows or networks, what would they be?
Golden Girls, Walking Dead, the Discovery Channel.
3. What has been your strangest fan encounter?
I was at a festival, a street festival, and a fan saw me from across the street and ran over and jumped on my back. This was in Utah.
4. Tell us about a time when you were star struck.
I have never seen them in person, but I would be with Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman.
5. What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Mayonnaise, ginger ale and hot sauce.
Guillermo Diaz photo: ABC/Image Group LA