Not a bad gig if you can get it: Actors and longtime pals Luis Guzman and Edgar Garcia got to spend a few weeks gallivanting around Europe for the comedy Puerto Ricans in Paris, out Friday. In this road trip-meets-fish out of water tale, Guzman and Garcia (costars in HBO’s How to Make it in America) play quasi-bumbling NYPD detectives who go to Paris to collar a designer handbag thief. Needless to say, the so not haute duo know little about French culture and find themselves stumbling about the City of Light. Guzman and Garcia also got an education on screen and off. “I had never a macaroon before,” reports Guzman from the Mondrian South Beach Hotel.
“There’s a scene at the end where I try one for the first time. I didn’t think I was gonna like them. But you see my reaction on camera. I genuinely am saying, ‘This is amazing.’ They were really, really, really good.”
Garcia concurs: “Oh yeah, we ate well over there.” Guzman — who also wears executive-producer hat — volleys back: “Edgar had an abundance of macaroons one day. We thought he was OD’ing.” The men, both native Puerto Ricans, also enjoyed taking in the sights.
“For me the most fun was one day when we were walking around the museum [The Louvre], checking out all the architecture, taking pictures with the Eiffel Tower in the background,” says Guzman, known for his dozens of memorable sidekick roles in such movies as Boogie Nights, Traffic and The Limey. Garcia thinks Puerto Ricans in Paris will appeal to not just Francophiles. “We’re proud of the film pretty because it pretty much touches on different topics — family, jobs, friendship.”
About that friendship: The easy rapport you witness between Guzman and Garcia is authentic. “We’ve known each other about 400 years, give or take a few,” jokes Guzman, adding that improvisation came easily. “That’s the beauty of the movie,” he says of the men’s spontaneous banter.
“The important thing is you can’t think about what you’re to do and keep it in the realm. If you are talking about orange, don’t talk about silver. Talk about yellow and red and bring it back to orange. That’s the art of improv.” Adds Garcia: “We call it the dream team.”
The only stumbling block during the Euro shoot was the language. “Spanish kind of flows but French? I mean it’s beautiful but a bit of a challenge,” says Guzman. “Like, you get three vowels in a row and think, ‘How are you ever going to say that?’ ” Garcia was impressed that the French actors were able to pull off their lines with such ease: “It was amazing to watch them, how they deciphered [the script]. We give them a lot of credit.”