(photo credit: Ploter Filter)
‘Some guys recognized me at the Wailing Wall,” says Guillermo Diaz, the star of
the television series, Scandal, in an interview during his week-long visit to
Israel with America’s Voices in Israel, a division of the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (New York).
Hasidic guys saw me praying there, and they said, ‘You’re Huck, right?’ and I
ended up talking to this group of guys,” says Diaz. He is excited about all that
he’s seen here, and emphasizes that people back home “were really happy for me
to be going to Israel.”
The young actor is best known for his role on
Scandal as the tormented former CIA assassin and intelligence officer who works
for Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), at her crisis-management firm in
The show was created by Grey’s Anatomy producer Shonda
Rhimes, and it’s the meatiest role Diaz has had so far.
Although you may
not recognize his name, you will recognize his handsome, tough-guy look from
such series as Weeds, where he played a drug dealer who sparred with Mary-
Louise Parker’s Nancy Botwin, and Mercy, a short-lived series in which he played
a streetwise but law-abiding gay nurse.
He’s still getting used to being
recognized, and isn’t at all jaded about his fame yet.
“I don’t feel
comfortable yet. I still feel like it’s too good to be true. Let me enjoy it
while it’s here, all of it, including this,” he says, his hand indicating the
ballroom at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem where the interview is taking place and
were Diaz is staying on this trip.
He isn’t alone on this visit. He was
joined on this trip to Israel by his Scandal co-stars, Bellamy Young, Katie
Lowes and Adam Shapiro as well as Lana Parilla from Once Upon A Time and Julie
Walker, art director of the hit series, The Mentalist. This AVI trip takes
Hollywood stars and crew to cultural, historical, scientific and religious
sites, led by AVI’s director, Irwin Katsof.
“I’ve been acting since 1993,
but this is the first time I’ve gotten to play a character this complicated,”
says Diaz of his Scandal character.
The New York-born actor of Cuban
descent attended Baruch College, a business school, for two years so he would
have something to fall back on if the acting career didn’t work out.
started out “playing a slew of drug dealers” when his career began.
didn’t require a lot of research however, because “growing up in Washington
Heights in the Eighties at the height of the crack era, these guys were around.
I would get mugged all the time by them. I was mugged at gunpoint right outside
my building and was pistol-whipped, I’ve still got the scar. And you learn to
act tougher than you are, so you don’t get messed with.”
When the Scandal
role came along, Diaz was enthusiastic about “tapping into his sadness. It was a
change to be a man who tortures people, but only people who have done something
wrong.” Although it might seem unlikely, the charming and outgoing Diaz says he
has a great deal in common with Huck. “He’s a loner, and I’m a loner. I get
nervous when the attention is on me.”
With the stardom that this
highprofile role has brought to him, Diaz may need to get used to being the
focus of a lot more attention.
Asked about his dream role, Diaz says, “I
love that question!” It’s one he’s thought about quite a bit, because he’s got
his answer ready. “In college, I read a book, called Crime and Punishment, and
there was the main character, Raskolnikov, he’s dark, and he’s
An updated Crime and Punishment transposed to the US, with
Diaz in the lead? With thoughts of that tortured character, Diaz heads off into
the sun to visit Meir Panim, the Jerusalem soup kitchen, and then to meet Mayor