John Ortiz has one of those faces. If you ran into him on the street, you'd say, "I know that actor; he was in "American Gangster," (or "Fast and Furious," or "Public Enemies" or any of a dozen recent TV shows, from "Law & Order" to "Medium")"ÔÇªbut you probably wouldn't be able to call up his name.
The fact is, Ortiz started high up the ladders, with Al Pacino (and John Leguizamo and Luis Guzm?ín) in "Carlito's Way" almost twenty years ago, then moved on to work with Mel Gibson and director Ron Howard in "Ransom," a couple of years later, and has a long string of "A" list projects in major movies, independent films, and high-quality TV, that's continued to arc upward to his current accomplishment: being a key player in HBO's new series "Luck," working alongside Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte.
And he's been a colleague, friend and partner of Phillip Seymour Hoffman for most of his professional life; together they founded the LAByrinth Theater Company in New York that still produces plays today, and he co-starred in Hoffman's directorial debut, "Jack Goes Fishing," which garnered him a host of award nominations, including Best Supporting Actor from the Independent Spirit Awards in 2011.
"Luck" is getting a lot of good buzz; this horseracing/organized crime drama my finally be the replacement in quality and reputation that HBO has been looking for ever since The Sopranos closed up shop. David Milch, the man behind "NYPD Blue" and "Deadwood," is behind "Luck" as well; online critic Jay D. "At Obsessed with Film" agreed with many others when he described it as an exploration "the world of horse racing and all the deceit, corruption, blessing and just dumb old good fortune that comes with it. The show packs a real punch" and offer "a whirl of characters."
"Luck" may be the vehicle that moves a successful career fully into the sunlight, and moves John Ortiz himself from "that guy" to "John Ortiz." And if not, Ortiz has plenty more to doÔÇªincluding a prominent role in "The Silver Linings Playbook," from the director of "The Fighter," where he'll be working with Robert de Niro, Julia Stiles, and Brad Cooper.
John even spent some time at the track to learn about his role as a horse trainer in the series. Here's a quick interview with him from Oak Tree Races on YouTube.
Absolutely: the "A" list. And you can catch one of his recent performances this weekend, when The Movie Channel shows The Narc, at 11:30P on Tuesday, Dec. 27. Set your TiVos!