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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

It’s every boy’s dream to be with an older woman who happens to be your teacher and lives next door.

In “The Boy Next Door,” that person is Jennifer Lopez for this suspense thriller about a boy who becomes obsessed with his neighbor.

Latino-Review had an exclusive phone interview with actor Ryan Guzman, who plays the young high school student and neighbor.

We discussed many topics, including his first sex scenes, first nude scenes, the difficulties of playing two different personalities and of course, Jennifer Lopez. We also managed to get a few more details on his role for the upcoming “Jem and the Holograms.”

“The Boy Next Door” is currently available on Amazon and iTunes. The film will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday, April 28.

Read the interview transcript below.

Latino-Review: What made you to be attracted to this project?

Ryan Guzman: I was very attracted to this project for the main reason that it was playing a character that no one had seen me play [before]. I’ve always been the good guy who done the right things. And maybe that good guy had a little bit of a fallout with whoever in the films or TV shows, but I want to show some versatility in my acting. I wanted to experience something new while I was acting. I fell in love with just being on someone who is so crazy and so out of their mind. He could justify every act he was doing no matter if was right or wrong in other people’s eyes.

Latino-Review: The funny thing is that I once interviewed you before for a Step Up movie. I remembered you being a down-to-Earth, genuine funny guy. I watched the movie and asked myself, “This can’t be the same guy?”

Ryan Guzman: [Laughter] It’s a different take. It’s definitely not me, for sure, in “The Boy Next Door.” I did some research and I collaborated with my director, Rob Cohen. We tried to figure on what we wanted for this character. We worked very hard on trying to make him as a likable character in the beginning and progressively show the transition to obviously crazy.

Again, another thing that attracted me to this whole film was being able to go places in where I’ve never really have gone. It’s to feel certain things I’ve never really felt.  It’s to do things I’ve never really thought I would do. I’m glad that people saw the craziness in the character and how evil we’ve made him. Hopefully, people were entertained by it.

Latino-Review: Was that a difficult transition in comparison with the roles you had before?

Ryan Guzman: Rob Cohen and I worked on two different characters for this movie. One was Noah Sandborn and the other was Achilles. Achilles was this character by any means do whatever it takes to get whatever he wants. What he wants was Claire Peterson, so he would get tunnel vision.

Rob wanted me to be more intense. He wanted me to show that I’m more than just a likable guy. He would say, “Let’s bring out Achilles now and then. Let’s get Achilles on this or that.” That’s how we did the progression of crazy for Noah Sandborn.

Latino-Review: The one thing that I have to hand to you is that whatever you and Rob did—you had the best lines in the movie. You’re funny and creepy at the same time.

Ryan Guzman: [Laughter] Yeah, that was kind of a mixture of me personally and Rob. The intensity was obviously Rob. The funny aspect was actually me. I wanted to make light of the character, because of these kind of roles—if you play him too one note then you kind of expect everything. You would drown yourself out in this character.

I wanted to play with the other characters. I wanted to play with the whole divide. I did throw out a couple of things. I adlibbed, “I loved your mother’s cookies.” They loved it. I didn’t think it was going to be so big that it made the trailer and now people are running up to me to say, “I loved your mother’s cookies” after seeing the film. It was a cool process.

Latino-Review: How you came up with those lines—I ended up seeing it all over Twitter. [Laughter] That was definitely the Ryan I remembered from the previous interviews. [Laughter]

Ryan Guzman: [Laughter] Yeah, I had to show some levity in the character. I had to have fun with it. Hey, I got some free cookies out of it. I’ll have to adlib more things. I love Snickers. So…..

Latino-Review: [Laughter] We’ll have to keep that in mind. Of course, I have to ask since a lot of people are jealous—you got to work with Jennifer Lopez. That’s awesome, right?

Ryan Guzman: [Laughter] Who’s that again? [Laughter] Jennifer is among just being amazing, famous and well off. She is a great person. We still keep in contact, because she is a great person. I really enjoy our friendship. It was an honor that her, Rob Cohen and the producers trusted me enough with this character. From day one of the table reads to the mini-auditions thereafter, they’ve seen more than 130 people for the character and ended up being interested in me. It’s a great relationship and a great friendship with everybody.

Latino-Review: Honestly, when you first heard of the role, I do wanted to ask is that aren’t you a little old to be a high school student?

Ryan Guzman: Oh, yeah. That was the biggest problem. Initially, I think the character was around seventeen or eighteen. I definitely did a conversation with a lot of people. I said, “Mike, look. I know you guys trust me this character, but I don’t look seventeen or eighteen. I know people are going to see this role and go, ‘What the hell is he doing?’” We tried to justify it with the nineteen and a half. I had to be held back, because my parents passed away. I took a couple years off of school and now I’m going back to get my diploma.

It is the kind of things you do with movies. You will make that disbelief go out the window, because you’re so enthralled with the movie. We were hoping that everyone that saw that go, “We don’t understand on why he’s playing a nineteen-year-old. So screw it. He’s having fun doing the movie. We’ll move forward with it.” And that’s what most did.

Latino-Review: Let’s say I do accept you as a nineteen-year-old. Wasn’t it still kind of creepy that you’re playing with a very young man who is trying to engage with a much older woman?

Ryan Guzman: [Chuckles] I wouldn’t say creepy. It’s every young man’s dream. [Chuckles] I feel like that everybody at some point and time whether they’re sixteen or twenty-one had a dream to be with an older woman. There’s something attractive about that. I just happen to live out those men’s dreams.

Latino-Review: [Laughter] Especially since the woman we’re talking about is Jennifer Lopez. [Laughter]

Ryan Guzman: Yeah, it doesn’t hurt that it’s Jennifer Lopez. [Laughter] My friends are definitely happy that it is.

Latino-Review: Now there is a first for you in this film. It’s not your first sex scene, but it’s definitely your first nude scene—am I correct?

Ryan Guzman: Yup. That’s the first.

Latino-Review: Was it first for both? [Chuckles]

Ryan Guzman: That’s the first for both.

Latino-Review: Wow. How did that feel for you?

Ryan Guzman: That was interesting. First of all, you wrap your head around that “I’m going to do a sex scene. I’m going to do a sex scene.” Crap! I got to get naked. What are they going to ask me? What are they going to tell me on what to do? Then you step back and wrap your head around the second thing, “Okay. Now I’m going to do a sex scene with Jennifer Lopez. Oh, crap!”

There were definitely doing some squats and doing a couple of pushups. I’m trying to look myself a little bit better. Yeah, it was just an awkward feeling. I remembered the day of by going up to Jennifer and telling her, “I feel really uncomfortable right now. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know what to do.” I had so many questions. She was the one who calmed me down and said, “You know what—just think that this scene means so much to the film and it’s the catalyst for the whole film. Without this scene, the film doesn’t make sense. Live in the character. Live in the moment. And forget about on who you are and what you are.”

After that, I kind of let loose and tried to make the scene the best as I could.

Latino-Review: It seems like you’re playing two different characters, first sex scenes, first nude scenes—what do you suppose was the most difficult thing you had to do on this project?

Ryan Guzman: It’s trying to find that transition between a good guy and bad guy. In reality, Noah Sandborn is just one person. In his head, he thinks he’s the same person throughout the whole film. To the audiences, you’ll see the transition from bad to evil progressively throughout the film. And making it happen subtlety throughout the film rather than being so abrupt. So it’s making him look like a split personality kind of guy was the most difficult aspect.

Rob Cohen was great in directing me. He told me on what would work and what wouldn’t.

Latino-Review: My guess would be saying the c-word to Kristin Chenoweth. [Chuckles]

Ryan Guzman: Oh, no! I forgot about that. Okay, yup. That was extremely hard. [Laughter] She is the kindest and sweetest person you’ll ever meet in your whole life. I had to call her this dirty c-word and grab her wrist. At one point in time, I didn’t realize on how hard I grabbed the wrist that I left a mark on her wrist. I go, “Oh, crap! I feel so horrible!” There was a lot of apologizing to her needless to say after that scene.

Latino-Review: [Chuckles] I do have to hand it to you that you went from dancing in “Step Up” movies to a psychological thriller in “The Boy Next Door.” I also have to mention that it’ll be your first time singing in the upcoming “Jem and the Holograms.”

Ryan Guzman: Yeah, yeah. I’m doing a lot of firsts. I never intended to be an actor. I never intended to do film. I never intended to do TV. But, everything is happening and I’m trying to take it in stride. You can ask any of my family members or my friends, I’m not the type of guy to be the one singing in front of people. I don’t do it. I don’t feel like I have a good voice. I got really intrigued for “Jem and the Holograms” with the girls. They have beautiful voices and with the vocal coach. I wanted to ask Jon Chula to tryout and maybe sing. I was sent to a vocal coach for fifteen minutes. We worked on my sound.

Next thing I know was that I was recording a song for them. Yeah, I’m singing now. [Laughter] It’s crazy!

Latino-Review: That is crazy since those girls are naturally and musically talented themselves.

Ryan Guzman: They’re unbelievable. The girls are fantastic. They have voices that I’ve never even heard of before especially with Aubrey [Peeples]. It was incredible. From Step Up on where I was never a dancer to a singer for this film in which I was never a singer. I love acting. I love that it pushes me to do so many different things. It makes you do these different abilities you thought you would never do.

Latino-Review: You mentioned that you never intended to be a TV actor of film actor—what else would you be doing if you’re in this career?

Ryan Guzman: I definitely will be going and continuing my MMA career. That’s a big, big passion of mine. I still train today. I hope that eventually to be successful enough to take time off and get back into MMA to do some fights. I love it and made me that person because of it. Yeah, hopefully I’ll be fighting in the UFC. That was my dream. I would like to be fighting in the UFC if I wasn’t an actor now.

Latino-Review: You still have plenty of time. So we’ll see. I appreciate this conversation. Hopefully, I’ll talk to you next time.

Ryan Guzman: Yeah, I’m only twenty-seven. For sure, man. Don’t let it be a couple of years from Step Up till now. I will see you in a couple of months then.

“The Boy Next Door” is currently available on Amazon and iTunes. The film will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday, April 28.

Source: Latino-Review

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.