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Eric Newman (‘Griselda’ executive producer) on Sofia Vergara: ‘Wow, can you believe she did this?’

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Eric Newman (‘Griselda’ executive producer) on Sofia Vergara: ‘Wow, can you believe she did this?’ “There is a precedent for people in comedy moving into drama,” he stresses, mentioning Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Emma Stone and Sean Penn. Gold Derby editor Ray Richmond hosts this webchat.

Eric Newman was the showrunner for the Netflix series “Narcos” in 2015 when Sofia Vergara – then in the middle of her run starring as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on the multiple Emmy-winning comedy “Modern Family” – invited him to her home to pitch him on the idea of her fronting a project where she portrayed the Colombian drug “queenpin” Griselda Blanco. “Obviously I knew her work and was a fan of hers,” Newman recalls. “I also knew she (Vergara) was Colombian, which is an important distinction. And I knew a lot about Griselda Blanco and was fascinated with her as a character. I felt that if Sofia was willing to take the risk…just the thought that she was interested in doing this was appealing. So I went into the meeting very excited and hopeful that I would be met with a level of passion and conviction that would help make my decision very easy – and I was. From that first meeting almost 10 years ago, Sofia was like, ‘I have to do this.’ To me, that is what it required for her to pull it off to the degree that she did.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

The ultimate result of that meeting was “Griselda,” the six-part Netflix biographical crime drama starring Vergara as the notorious cartel leader responsible for starting the flow of cocaine into Miami in the 1980s and ’90s. Through the course of the six hours, Vergara undergoes a transformation at once spiritual, physical and dramatic. Her portrayal required three hours daily in the makeup chair as she concurrently poured her heart and soul into every frame. “It was transformative in a lot of ways I think for her,” Newman confirms. “When you set out to redefine someone out in the world and make it the very heart of your mission, it requires a lot. We wanted people to watch her and say, ‘Wow, can you believe she did this?’ Obviously, there was the risk involved, to depart from a comfort zone, but also just the rigors of doing this kind of part. All of the makeup and also playing a person who’s distasteful at times.”

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