For most actors, discovering a character trauma can be dark and challenging enough, but Diane Guerrero has enjoyed dozens.
The 34-year-old, best known for her role as Orange in New Black and Jane the Virgin, admits she has been undergoing therapy since taking on the role of Crazy Jane in the latest remake of DC’s cult comic Doom Patrol.
The abstract and bizarre series follows several frustrated superheroes as they try to save the world and deal with their own traumas.
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Guerrero’s character, who suffers from the identity disorder of segregation, has created four unique alternative personalities in response to extreme sexual abuse – each with their own unique superpowers.
In a video conference with The New Daily, Guerrero said it was often difficult to let go of the character’s fights at the end of a long day of shooting.
“I definitely had to go into therapy and take care of myself that way,” Guerrero said.
Jane goes to a very deep place, but it also means that I have to go to a very deep place to get the kind of sympathy I need for Jane.
“Even as an actor – I have to mention my own life and my own experiences, which have also become quite traumatic.”
A new kind of superhero
The opportunity to play a character with such a rich, intricate backstory is to make Guerrero’s dream come true, who said he was tired of hearing about “disguised girls” and characters who “don’t push any boundaries.”
Guerrero lets explore his acting abilities with modifiers like Crazy Jane, the offensive Hummerhead (which has super powers) or Baby Doll (a telephonic child-type changer).
In the original comic series, written by Clint Mansell and Kevin Kinar, Crazy Jane was not portrayed as a Latinx character who was eager to push Guerrero.
A vocal activist, Guerrero is interested in equal representation and is using his platform to empower marginalized members of the community.
“I’ve never really seen a superhero who represents the majority of my community, and I’m excited to see how it fits and got this opportunity and it was absolutely perfect,” Guerrero said.
“Not just a superhero, but one deep and deeply troubling.”
Scarlett Harlot (a sexual addiction with the ability to make ecotoplasm hypotheses and absorb psychological energy) and Karen (a stupid romantic who can make people fall in love with her) are some of Guerrero’s favorite variations.
In addition to exploring some exciting, fancy characters in Crazy Jane, Doom Patrol has allowed Guerrero to work with some of Hollywood’s elite.
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy Franchise), Matt Boomer (American Horror Story, White Collar) and Alan Tudic (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) are all co-stars alongside Guerrero as Robotman, Negative Man and Mr. Nobby.
“It was a treat because everyone on the set, who played with us, has this kind of respect for this craft and they’re very generous with what they know and the work they’re giving you,” Guerrero said.
“I’ve never worked with a cast that I really liked.”
Not quite Jacqueline and Hyde …
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is a mental illness that Hollywood often misunderstands.
Whether it’s James McAvoy of Split, Edward Norton of Primal Fear or Anthony Perkins of Psycho, DID victims are often portrayed as violent, murderous villains.
Though from her altered innocent child to the aggressive liar, Crazy Jane is still the hero of the mind.
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It is important for Guerrero, who suffers from complex mental health problems, to provide meaningful, positive representations of those who have done extensive research on the role.
“I’ve seen these characters in me in one way or another and I want to respect that just trying to make my choices smaller – not every character has to have this great presence,” he said.
“Often people with DID are misdiagnosed or misunderstood … What I have confirmed is something to learn from human experience.
“I try to respect each character, not just the cartoon version of it.
“Every single person has a different experience, not a cutout copy for each person – there may be some similarities but of course everyone has a different experience because everyone has a different trauma.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline at 13 11 14
The Doom Patrol is available for Seasons 1 and 2 streams from September 2nd in Being