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Sofia Vergara is taking on her most dramatic role yet in Netflix’s “Griselda,” in which she plays infamous Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco. The show marks a rare opportunity for Vergara to flex her dramatic acting muscles as her career has largely been defined by comedy projects, from playing Gloria Pritchett on ABC’s “Modern Family” (which ran for 11 seasons and garnered Vergara four Emmy nominations) to films like 2015’s “Hot Pursuit” with Reese Witherspoon.
“I’m always looking for characters because there’s not much that I can play with this stupid accent,” Vergara recently told the Los Angeles Times, poking fun at herself. “I can’t play a scientist or be in ‘Schindler’s List.’ My acting jobs are kind of limited.”
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Because her potential roles are limited, Vergara knew Griselda was the rare dramatic character she could sink her teeth into. But becoming a ruthless drug lord required learning knew acting techniques that differed greatly from her comedy work. Vergara hired acting coach Nancy Banks, who has worked with Margot Robbie, Jennifer Aniston and more.
“I had no clue what it meant to have a process,” Vergara said. “It was tricky because I don’t have any real training as an actor. I was married to Joe [Manganiello], who is a fucking classically trained actor. I would ask things and I would see how he would prepare. I was kind of always like, ‘What do real actors do? Can I do this?’”
Banks’ acting lessons required Vergara to think about her character in new ways. As the Times points out: “What does the character need from the other character? What does my character dream about? What makes her laugh?”
“The night before I was going to start shooting, I was sitting down in the living room and I thought, ‘Why the fuck did I think I could do this?’” Vergara said. “‘Just because I put on a rubber nose, they’re not going to know that Gloria Pritchett is talking?’ They’re going to say, ‘Who does she think she is?’”
“When I was in those scenes [as Griselda], it was like anger and a lot of things about my upbringing and where I come from and who I am,” she added. “I knew those people. My brother was in that business. I knew those feelings. And I understand [Blanco] because all those people that have done really bad things, they’re not all the time bad. They think they’re doing the right thing for people. It’s absurd, yeah, because they’re doing horrible things, but I knew the mentality.”
“Griselda” streams Jan. 25 on Netflix.
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