Tough-guy Diaz conquers the Wailing Wall

Although you may not recognize his name, you will recognize his handsome, tough-guy look from such series as Weeds.

GUILLERMO DIAZ (photo credit: Ploter Filter)
(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).
“These 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 Washington.
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.
He started out “playing a slew of drug dealers” when his career began.
This 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 fascinating.”
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 Barkat.