Netflix will premiere its miniseries Griselda starring Sofia Vergara as Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco on Friday (Jan. 25). The series also marks the first time Vergara takes on a more serious role in her 30-plus-year trajectory.
“Everything was challenging for me,” she tells Billboard. “Mainly the first month because I was trying new things. I had never acted in Spanish or a drama or with prosthetics. The three-hours of hair and makeup were exhausting … It was a lot of different things. I had to wrap my body so it didn’t look like me. I think more than one scene that was difficult was episode five. It was really hard because Griselda was going all the way down and she’s doing drugs, losing her mind a little bit. We were far away from my house in L.A. We were sleeping in tiny hotels. It was difficult. And the mood that Griselda was in was exhausting for me. She was killing, screaming, crying. It was a lot.”
The series — which captures how Blanco (aka “The Cocaine Godmother”) created one of the most profitable cartels in Miami in the 1970s — was co-created by showrunner Eric Newman (Narcos, Narcos: Mexico), and directed by Andrés Baiz (Narcos), who helmed all six episodes. Vergara also serves as executive producer.
“This is a tragedy and when you’re telling a story about drug trafficking, as we have with Narcos, and someone who builds an empire and loses it, it’s important that we don’t glorify it and that you see there’s a comeuppance of justice,” Newman says. “What was interesting about this story for us is that she’s that last line of defense for her children, and it made her story for us really about the mother. When you meet her, you’re instantly connected to her, and when you actually watch her build this empire, where the story has to end is where that primary directive of ‘protect my children’ fails. That, for us, became the character’s journey, and it’s all about the character, which Sofia absolutely nailed.”
Griselda also features Karol G in her acting debut as “Carla,” one of Griselda’s “mules” who transports drugs to the U.S. For the role, the Colombian superstar spent months in acting and body movement classes, and took in-person and virtual lessons that “totally opened my eyes to a different perspective. They’ve helped my career as an artist and my development onstage,” she previously told Billboard.
“Working with Karol G was amazing,” notes Baiz. “She was so much fun. She was humble on set and hardworking. Just the energy that she brought to the set and to her character was very authentic. She’s from Medellin, she’s paisa, it’s the way she speaks. She’s a performer, so she had it in her. It was wonderful working with her. When she came to the set, everyone was happy. Very professional. It was fantastic. I wish there was more of Karol G in the show, but it’s just a taste.”
“We put Bad Bunny in Narcos and that was a great experience as well, but more often than not, when someone who’s a superstar in one world comes into the acting world, you never know what you’re going to get,” Newman adds. “She was great and her character was great, so it was a thrill and a joy to have her.”
Watch the Griselda trailer below: