Sofia Vergara Opens Up About Portraying Griselda Blanco Amid Family's Lawsuit Against Her (Exclusive)

The actress portrays the infamous 'Cocaine Godmother' in an upcoming Netflix limited series, out Jan. 25.

Sofia Vergara is stepping out of her comfort zone for her new series, Griselda, in which she embodies Griselda Blanco, the real-life Colombian crime boss known as the "Cocaine Godmother."

In the six-episode series -- which Vergara also executive produced -- the actress embodies the notorious real-life kingpin, who created one of history's most profitable cartels, running cocaine through Miami in the 1970s and 1980s.

"I am Colombian. I am a mother. I'm an immigrant. I was fascinated, because I grew up in Colombia in this era, and I never heard about a woman that was a head of a cartel," Vergara told ET's Denny Directo ahead of the series' premiere on Jan. 25. "There were girlfriends, there were wives, but not this woman that was competing, and getting to the level of these men. I was blown away."

"We didn't want to romanticize her or make her a hero, because she wasn't," she added. "But no matter what anyone says, this was a very interesting character."


Ahead of the series premiere, Blanco's adult children, acting as representatives of her estate, filed a lawsuit against Vergara and Netflix, aiming to block the release of the series, claiming the unauthorized use of their family's image and likeness.

According to court documents obtained by ET, Blanco's son, Michael, alleges that he had been providing interviews since 2009 to individuals interested in developing his and his mother's life stories into a production, potentially a show and a book. 

Michael further alleged that Netflix expressed interest in the project but did not want to utilize any details or consultations from his interviews. However, he claims that the upcoming miniseries heavily relies on his anecdotes and materials without proper compensation.

The lawsuit contends that Netflix essentially appropriated the family's story and incorporated it into the show, violating the Blanco children's rights by using their images and likenesses without permission. 

While the lawsuit does not explicitly prohibit the depiction of their mother, a public figure who died in 2012, the children assert that their likenesses and interview materials were utilized in the production. A rep for Netflix had no comment for ET regarding the lawsuit at the time.

In their interview with ET, Vergara and series creator Eric Newman acknowledged that it was an intense process to tell the complicated story of a real-life figure who invites so much controversy.

"It's not my first rodeo," said Newman, who also produced the Netflix series Narcos, noting that Pablo Escobar's family made "some more claims" about that series.

"We had a very specific story we wanted to tell," he said of Griselda. "I believe we told it, and I don't think it in any way prevents someone else from telling their own version of it."

"I'm trying to understand her from the beginning," Vergara said of embodying the complicated character. "I started from being fascinated by her, because she achieved many things that it was impossible for a woman to achieve -- even though they were horrific."

"I tried to tell also that she was human, that she had her own way -- the way she knew how to be a good mother, a good friend, she tried," she added. "She was not just a monster."

The Modern Family star underwent three hours of makeup transformation each day to play the menacing drug lord, noting that the process was "very hard, but worth it."

"I couldn't have played that character without all of those those things -- the teeth, the fake nose, the plastic, the fake eyelashes.... I invented a different walk and body position, and I learned how to smoke," she recalled with a laugh. "[I smoked] in every episode and I had never even touched a cigarette in my life -- and I was 50 years old. I had to learn how to snort fake cocaine."

The drama of the series was also a new path for Vergara, who had only starred in comedies to this point. In fact, it's been a year of changes for the actress, who split from husband Joe Manganiello last summer after seven years of marriage.

"I've had so many things happen in my life. I'm 51 years old. You have to learn how to keep going and finding always the positive thing about anything, because what can you do?" Vergara said of her continued evolution.

"I think 2024 is gonna be a great year for me," she continued. "I have a lot of projects, starting the year with Griselda, which I feel that everyone is very excited about. To me, it's already a win... presenting this show, this work that we did. We're so proud of it, and to see the people liking it, you know, that's a good start."

Griselda premieres Jan. 25 on Netflix.


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