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Griselda Writer Details Sofia Vergara’s Drug Lord Breakdown Scene

Griselda Writer Details Sofia Vergara’s Drug Lord Breakdown Scene

In Griselda, Sofía Vergara leaves behind her comedic roots and steps into the violent, backstabbing world of her eponymous character, a real-life drug lord becoming increasingly deranged over the course of the six-part miniseries. Episode five sees her break her composure, pulling a gun on her estranged husband, Dario, shooting up his car and then forcing party guests to have sex in front of her at gunpoint.

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Max Mermelstein, a real-life drug smuggler and character in the show, wrote a book that describes this last moment between Dario and Griselda Blanco, the final ripping apart of their marriage. “For writers Eric Newman, Ingrid Escajeda, Andy Baiz and I, when we were structuring the story, the way we do it is we have tentpoles from the truth, and those become what we build the larger story around,” explains writer Doug Miro. “Mainly the dynamic is what we took, not the location, not what was happening.”

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Despite several details of the script being exaggerations of Blanco’s story, the truth is stranger than fiction, and Blanco’s gun antics are no fable. “She did pull a gun at a party like this,” notes Miro. “She was famous for once forcing her guests to have sex at gunpoint. We changed it to his birthday. We decided to have one big party that really made for the claustrophobia, because the other piece that’s here is that paranoia, for Griselda, is a big part of her story.” Over the course of the show, she is followed by detectives, causing her to constantly look over her shoulder out of fear. “The reason we were able to do her downfall like this, in one episode, is we’d been seeding that paranoia throughout,” Miro says.

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While many episodes evolved a great deal through drafts, this scene remained mostly in its original form. “It was really built around a line that Dario, at least in the reporting, actually did say, which was: ‘You ruined your boys, and I’m worried you’re going to ruin ours, too.’ Which was really the sentiment that drove him to leave Griselda in life, and in our story. That becomes an inversion of the typical gender roles — it starts in that typical way of, like, a jilted wife. But then in Griselda fashion, she turns it upside down really quickly.”

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“The advantage is this is built from the prior scenes between the two of them, where she’s already accused him of being a mole,” says Miro. “We know she’s been doing drugs. We know she’s in a very unstable spot.” Such intense dialogue required finesse from the directors and actors. “For Sofía to transition the way she did from doing comedy, where you never have a scene like this, where the shifts are so dramatic … you have to go from being vulnerable to the jilted wife to then belittling this guy who’s pretty much the coolest guy in the room. Sofía is so powerful in those moments, and that’s what makes them so believable,” explains Miro. “When she says, ‘I’m a terrible fucking mother, a terrible fucking wife’ … Sofia is a mother. She has been a wife. You’re suddenly empathizing with her.”

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In the final cut of the episode, Griselda actually doesn’t point her gun at Dario. Instead, she immediately starts shooting his car. “Her line is more powerful when she just turns and shoots the car, and that’s the zinger at the end,” says Miro. Referring to the camera following her through the party post shootout, he adds, “That was essential, when we designed the show, it being as much in her visceral point of view as possible.”

Courtesy of Netflix

Miro describes the aftermath of Griselda’s ammo-fueled meltdown as “the worst moment in high school, where you’re totally exposed and embarrassed.” She’s lost her power and control after her public meltdown. Immediately following these pages, she forces guests to have sex in front of her. “When I read about Griselda doing this at parties, we spent a lot of time discussing why. And what we came to understand was it was to demonstrate her power.”

This story first appeared in a June standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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