Why Sofia Vergara's Netflix Crime Boss Character Landed Her In A Lawsuit

Ever since Sofia Vergara was first discovered, she has excelled in TV and film, from her breakout performance in the hit sitcom "Modern Family" to her starring role opposite Reese Witherspoon in the 2015 action comedy "Hot Pursuit." However, one of her most prominent roles to date is that of Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco, the titular character in the Netflix series "Griselda." The wealthy woman was a crucial player in the narcotics trafficking world in the 1960s through the 1980s and the six-episode series showcases Vergara's versatility, offering her a more serious role than what fans are used to seeing from the usually comedic actor. 

Since the release of "Griselda" on January 25, 2024, Vergara has been praised for her performance as the queenpin. The portrayal even earned Vergara her highest-rated film or TV show score to date on Rotten Tomatoes with an impressive 88 percent from critics. Not only does the "Modern Family" star appear in the show, but she also executive produced it. However, not everyone was impressed with her work on the series. Blanco's son, Michael Corleone Blanco, who also oversees her estate, sued Vergara ahead of the show's release. As her only living child, Michael has been involved with other projects surrounding his mother over the years. 

However, he alleges that neither Vergara nor Netflix followed proper protocol when telling his mother's story. Michael even slammed the decision to use facial prosthetics on Vergara to alter her appearance for the role, claiming it made his mom seem unattractive. While Vergara doesn't appear to have responded to Michael publicly, he is undoubtedly being vocal about what he feels is owed to him and his family. 

Griselda Blanco's son claims Vergara never consulted with him

Michael Corleone Blanco detailed in his lawsuit filing how he'd been conducting interviews about his mother, Griselda Blanco's, life since 2009 in the hopes of making a TV show or book someday. According to Michael, he learned of Netflix's intention to use his mother's story at some point but the streamer refused to use any of the interviews Michael had previously given when the time came to make "Griselda." Despite this, Michael accused Netflix of relying heavily on his many accounts of his mother for the show. 

Corleone's lawyer released a statement to Entertainment Tonight, calling out Netflix. "Defendants approached Michael Blanco to gain his work, perspective, and insight to only turn around and act like he does not exist, in an apparent attempt to reap their own profits. It is disappointing that Latin World Entertainment/Netflix would pretend that it is acceptable to use Michael Blanco's commercial work without his permission," it railed. 

"Griselda" creator and exec-producer Eric Newman, who is also listed in the suit, informed Today that suits such as Corleone's are common in Hollywood, explaining, "I tend not to think much about them. It just feels a little bit unsurprising and kind of comes with the territory." As Newman recalled, "I dealt with similar suits from Pablo Escobar, his family, during the making of 'Narcos.'" 

Attempts to block the series from release were unsuccessful

In the January 17, 2024 lawsuit, filed in Florida's Miami-Dade County, Michael Corleone Blanco asked a judge to stop the release of "Griselda" altogether. Despite his best efforts, the Netflix series was permitted to proceed with its debut. Even with the backlash, "Griselda" is evidently a major passion project for star and executive producer Sofia Vergara (even though she makes a ton of money outside of acting). 

When speaking with Entertainment Tonight ahead of the show's release, the Emmy winner noted, "There are so many nuances to explore in terms of who she was as a drug lord and, of course, as a woman, as a mother. She was someone who did whatever it took to protect her family. I really wanted to explore that from the point of view of, you know, of her being one of the only women in history to have gone as far as she did." 

While it's unknown at the time of writing how Michael's suit will play out, Vergara is basking in the show's success regardless, writing in a January 26, 2024, Instagram post: "Gracias for making Griselda the most streamed @Netflix show worldwide in just 24 hours." Judging by the immense success of "Griselda," it's unlikely Netflix will be removing the series from streaming anytime soon.