John Leguizamo

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John Leguizamo
John Leguizamo by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Leguizamo in July 2013
Birth nameJohn Alberto Leguizamo
Born(1964-07-22) July 22, 1964 (age 50)
Bogotá, Colombia
Years active1984–present
SpouseYelba Osorio (1994–1996; divorced)
Justine Maurer (2003–present; 2 children)
Partner(s)Carolyn McDermott (1986–1991)
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John Leguizamo
John Leguizamo by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Leguizamo in July 2013
Birth nameJohn Alberto Leguizamo
Born(1964-07-22) July 22, 1964 (age 50)
Bogotá, Colombia
Years active1984–present
SpouseYelba Osorio (1994–1996; divorced)
Justine Maurer (2003–present; 2 children)
Partner(s)Carolyn McDermott (1986–1991)

John Alberto Leguizamo (/ˌlɛɡwɪˈzɑːm/; born July 22, 1964) is a Colombian-American actor, voice actor, producer and screenwriter. As of 2009, Leguizamo has produced over 10 films (including the film Piñero), starred or co-starred in over 75 films, starred on Broadway in several productions winning several awards, made over a dozen TV guest appearances and has helped produce or star in many other similar television shows.

Early life[edit]

John Leguizamo was born in Bogotá, Colombia, to Alberto and Luz Leguizamo. According to Leguizamo, his paternal grandfather was of Puerto Rican and Italian descent[1] and his maternal grandfather was Lebanese.[2] Leguizamo has also described himself as being of Amerindian/Mestizo heritage.[3][4] Leguizamo's father was once an aspiring film director and studied at Cinecittà, but eventually dropped out due to lack of finances.[5] When Leguizamo was four years old, his family immigrated to the United States[6] and lived in various neighborhoods of Queens in New York City, including Jackson Heights.[3][7]

He later credited growing up as one of the first Latino children in his Jackson Heights neighborhood as formative in his acting ability: "It was tough. There were lots of fights. I would walk through a park and be attacked, and I had to defend myself all the time. But this helped me to become funny so that I wouldn’t get hit."[8] Leguizamo attended the Joseph Pulitzer Middle School (I.S.145) and later the Murry Bergtraum High School. As a student at Murry Bergtraum, Leguizamo wrote comedy material and tested it out on his classmates. He was voted "Most Talkative" by his classmates. After graduating from high school, he began his theater career as an undergraduate at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts from which he eventually dropped out in favor of a career in stand-up comedy. Post NYU Leguizamo enrolled at Long Island University C.W. Post Campus where he took theater classes.


Early career[edit]

Leguizamo started out as a stand-up comic doing the New York nightclub circuit in 1984. He made his television debut in 1986 with a small part in Miami Vice. His other early roles include: an extra in Madonna's Borderline video (1984) playing a friend of Madonna's boyfriend; Mixed Blood (1985); Casualties of War (1989); a terrorist in Die Hard 2 (1990); Hangin' with the Homeboys (1991); the robber in Regarding Henry (1991) and Night Owl (a.k.a. Nite Owl) (1993).


Leguizamo at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival

In 1992, he starred in Whispers in the Dark as John Castillo. In 1993 Leguizamo was offered the lead part as Luigi in the film Super Mario Bros., based on the Mario video game franchise. Despite being considered a critical and financial failure universally, the film started his acting career in Hollywood and became one of his memorable roles. It also provided a boost to his career, allowing him to appear in better comedic roles in the following years. That same year, he had a prominent role in Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way as Carlito Brigante's nemesis, "Benny Blanco from the Bronx," which also boosted his career in serious roles.

Leguizamo also starred in Romeo + Juliet as Tybalt Capulet, as Violator in Spawn, Cholo in Land of the Dead and Pestario 'Pest' Vargas in The Pest. In 1995, he starred as drag queen Chi-Chi Rodriguez in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and in the 1996 action film Executive Decision as Captain Rat. In 2002, he starred in the movie Empire. To promote the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge!, he appeared on a celebrity edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? with Kelly Ripa, Kevin Sorbo, Alfre Woodard, Martin Short and Chevy Chase. Appearing as the first celebrity to sit in the hot seat, he eventually tried for $125,000, but got the answer wrong. Later in 2002, on the syndicated version, a question about the movie featured his character and Meredith Vieira mentioned that Leguizamo had played Lautrec and had been on the show.

In 2002 he voiced Sid the Sloth for the film Ice Age, reprising the role for the sequels Ice Age: The Meltdown, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Ice Age: Continental Drift. The game versions of the films also used his voice. In 2003, he voice-acted Globox from Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. Leguizamo portrayed Paul in the Brad Anderson thriller film Vanishing on 7th Street.[9] In 2007 he played Michael Beltran in the movie The Babysitters.


In 1995 Leguizamo created, produced, wrote, and starred in the 1995 Latino-oriented variety show called House of Buggin' on Fox Television. Some audiences saw this as the Latino version of In Living Color. The show showcased Leguizamo's well-known ability to assume a wide variety of colorful, energetic characters, but due to poor ratings the show ran less than one season.

In 2000, Leguizamo portrayed both Genies in Arabian Nights, a TV mini-series adaptation of the medieval epic One Thousand and One Nights.

During the 2005–06 television season, Leguizamo joined the cast of the show ER, playing the emotionally disturbed Dr. Victor Clemente, a new attending who is keen on introducing the staff of County General to better ways of treating patients and cutting-edge technology. Clemente, however, was plagued with personal problems and was fired from the hospital near the end of the season. Dr. Clemente's departure from the show was a blessing for Leguizamo. He revealed to CraveOnline that he was not happy working on the television program. "I was depressed doing ER," he admitted, "I started gaining weight, I was eating donuts, I started smoking again. I’m eating McDonald's, things that I know when I’m depressed I do. I tried to kill myself internally."[10]

In 2005, he guest starred on Dora the Explorer as Captain Pirate Piggy. In 2006, Leguizamo starred in the television pilot for Edison, a 2006 CBS drama about an Los Angeles detective (played by Leguizamo) who relied on impersonations and disguises to solve crimes. Other cast members included Currie Graham and Deidrie Henry. Kevin Rodney Sullivan directed from a script by Ron Milbauer and Terri Hughes. Leguizamo and David Hoberman also served as executive producers.

In July 2007, Spike TV aired their drama series The Kill Point, starring Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg and Michael Hyatt. The show was an eight-part series revolving around ex-war veterans whose bank robbery went wrong, thus ending in a hostage situation. Despite high ratings, The Kill Point was not renewed for a second season.

In 2010, Leguizamo also guest starred on The Electric Company as himself, rhyming about commas and quotation marks.

In 2012, Leguizamo was cast as Derek Trotter in the American remake of the British BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses.

Broadway and theater[edit]

John Leguizamo at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.

In 1991, he also wrote and took part in the Off-Broadway production Mambo Mouth, where he played seven different characters. Mambo Mouth won an Obie Award and an Outer Critics Award. He was listed as one of 12 "Promising New Actors of 1991" in "John Willis' Screen Worlds Vol. 43".

In 1993, Leguizamo wrote and participated in Spic-O-Rama, where he made fun of the stereotyping of Latinos in the United States. The production won a Drama Desk Award and four Cable ACE Awards. Both Mambo Mouth and Spic-O-Rama were later filmed for presentation on HBO.

In 1998, he debuted on Broadway in the production of Freak, a semi-autobiographical one-person play also recorded for release in the year 2000 on HBO, with Spike Lee sitting in as director. The show won him the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show.

In 2002, he wrote and performed in Sexaholix... A Love Story which explained his love life and how he started his own family.

In June 2010, Leguizamo opened his semi-autobiographical one-man theater show, Klass Klown (later renamed Ghetto Klown), based on his memoir Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas, and All the Rest of My Hollywood Friends: My Life. After the show ran at various theaters in the United States and Leguizamo performed an 'unplugged' version of it under the title John Leguizamo Warms Up at a Chicago theater, it opened on Broadway in March 2011 at the Lyceum Theatre.[11][12][13][14] The show, about Leguizamo's path from obscurity to stardrom, opened to many positive reviews and was extended through July 10, 2011. A CD of the show was released. In 2011, Leguizamo received the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Solo Performance[15] and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance for his performance in the show.[16] In September 2011, Leguizamo began an international tour of Ghetto Klown in Los Angeles.[17] On July 13, 2012, PBS debuted Tales From a Ghetto Klown, a documentary about Leguizamo's life and the show's development. On November 16, 2013 John taped Ghetto Klown at The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ for HBO.[18]

On record[edit]

In 2001 RCA Records released John Leguizamo LIVE, a CD compilation of Leguizamo's stage routines. Among the bits are a primer Leguizamo gives on the history and culture of Latinos in America, which with the dubious tale of the mating of an Inca princess with a Spanish conquistador, thus creating the original dysfunctional Latin family, each member of which is voiced by Leguizamo. The CD also includes a musical intermission, with two salsa/hip-hop tunes, "The Night Before Christmas" and "Gotta Get Some", and footage from Leguizamo's tours and two interactive games, "Spanish Fly Pick-Up Line".

Personal life[edit]

Leguizamo married Justine Maurer, a costumer on Carlito's Way,[19] on June 28, 2003, in a Catholic-Jewish ceremony (he is Catholic and his wife is Jewish).[20] They have two children, daughter Allegra Sky (born in 1999) and son Ryder Lee (born 2000),[21][22] and live in Manhattan. In 2008, Leguizamo received the Rita Moreno HOLA Award for Excellence from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA). He was a recipient of the 2011 Made in NY Award from the City of New York.[23][24] He is a self-avowed New York Mets fan.


On June 10, 2011, Alberto Leguizamo, John's father, declared in an interview published in a New York Hispanic newspaper El Diario Newspaper, that he (the father) was not Puerto Rican, that he is Colombian and therefore his son (John) was not half Puerto Rican as he has always stated.[25] John Leguizamo had always declared that he was Puerto Rican on his father's side which was one of the reasons that he was selected as the Puerto Rican Day Parade Global Ambassador of the Arts. In response to his father's allegations, Leguizamo stated that his grandfather was of Puerto Rican descent.[25] A spokesman for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade has stated that Leguizamo would not be stripped of his ambassadorship. Leguizamo marched in the parade on June 12, 2011.[26]


In October 2006, Leguizamo's memoir, Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas and All the Rest of My Hollywood Friends: My Life, was released. During an interview on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Leguizamo stated that his memoir was very frank about odd experiences involving other celebrities and co-stars he had worked with. He stated that working with Arnold Schwarzenegger on Collateral Damage was one of the most enjoyable experiences he had as an actor. He also said that Arnold's accent let him say things that others would think were sexist or homophobic if said by someone else, that Steven Seagal was an egotist with diva tendencies, Kurt Russell continuously called him a "faggot", and that Leonardo DiCaprio was a "patron of prostitutes."[27]



1985Mixed BloodMacetero
1989Casualties of WarPFC Antonio Diaz
1990Street HunterAngel
1990Gentille AlouetteOrtiz
1990Die Hard 2Burke
1991PoisonChanchiCredited as Damien Garcia
1991Hangin' with the HomeboysJohnny
1991Out for JusticeBoy in alley
1991Regarding HenryLiquor store gunman
1991NYPD MountedUnknown
1992Puerto Rican Mambo (Not A Musical)"Guess my nationality" guy
1992Whispers in the DarkJohn Castillo
1992Time ExpiredRuby
1993Night OwlAngel
1993Super Mario Bros.Luigi Mario
1993Carlito's WayBenny Blanco
1995A Pyromaniac's Love StorySergio
1995To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie NewmarChi-ChiNominated – Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1996Executive DecisionRat
1996The FanManny
1996Romeo + JulietTybalt Capulet
1997The PestPestario "Pest" Vargas
1997A Brother's KissLefty
1998Frogs for SnakesZip
1998Body CountChino
1998FreakHimselfDrama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show
Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Music Program
1998Dr. DolittleRatVoice
1999Joe the KingJorge
1999Summer of SamVinny
2000Arabian NightsGenie
2000Titan A.E.GuneVoice
2000King of the JungleSeymour
2001Moulin Rouge!Toulouse-Lautrec
2001What's the Worst That Could Happen?Berger
2002Sexaholix... A Love StoryHimself
2002Collateral DamageFelix Ramirez
2002Zig ZagDean Singer
2002Ice AgeSid the ground slothVoice
2002Point of OriginKeith Lang
2002EmpireVictor Rosa
2002SpunSpider Mike
2003UndefeatedLex Vargas
2004CrónicasManolo Bonilla
2005Assault on Precinct 13Beck
2005The HoneymoonersDodge
2005Land of the DeadCholo DeMora
2006AKASean Edison
2006The AlibiHannibal
2006Ice Age: The MeltdownSid the ground slothVoice
2006The GroomsmenT.C.
2007Where God Left His ShoesFrank Diaz
2007The BabysittersMichael Beltran
2007The TakeFelix De La Pena
2007Love in the Time of CholeraLorenzo Daza
2008Paraiso TravelRoger Pena
2008The HappeningJulian
2008Miracle at St. AnnaEnrico
2008Righteous KillDet. Simon Perez
2008Nothing Like the HolidaysMauricio Rodriguez
2008Surviving SidSid the ground slothVoice
2009The MinistersDante / Perfecto Mendoza
2009Ice Age: Dawn of the DinosaursSid the ground slothVoice
2010Repo MenAsburyUncredited
2010Vanishing on 7th StreetPaul
2010Big BallsUnknownShort film
2011One for the MoneyJimmy Alpha
2011The Lincoln LawyerVal Valenzuela
2012Ice Age: Continental DriftSid the ground slothVoice
2012El Paseo 2Lucho Calvo[28]
2013Kick-Ass 2Javier
2013The CounselorRandy
2013Don't Break the SchoolJohn Isac 'Ezac' Pine Leguizamo, The Dog (voice)
2013Walking with DinosaursAlex
2013Fish N Chips, Best Enemies ForeverChipsVoice
2014Ride AlongSantiago
2014John WickAureilo
2014A Conspiracy on Jekyll IslandPost-Production
2015The NestFilming
2015American UltraRosePost-Production
2016Ice Age 5Sid


1986–1989Miami ViceIvan Calderone3 episodes
1991Mambo MouthVarious characters
1993Spic-O-RamaVarious characters
1995House of Buggin'Various charactersCreator/Producer/Writer
10 episodes
2000–2003The Brothers GarciaNarrator5 episodes
2002Sesame StreetHimself1 episode
2004Dora the ExplorerSilly mail birdVoice
1 episode
2005–2006ERDr. Victor Clemente12 episodes
2006My Name Is EarlUncle Diego2 episodes
2007The Kill PointMr. Wolf8 episodes
2008American BuffaloWalter Cole[29]
2011Ghetto KlownHimself
2012Kings of Van NuysDel BoyUnaired pilot
2013American Dad!Luis Ramirez(voice) "The Full Cognitive Redaction of Avery Bullock by the Coward Stan Smith"

Video games[edit]

2003Rayman 3: Hoodlum HavocGloboxVoice
2006Ice Age: The MeltdownSidVoice
2009Ice Age: Dawn of the DinosaursSidVoice


2011The Annoying OrangeJumping BeanVoice
1 episode

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leguizamo, John (2006). Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas, And All the Rest of My Hollywood Friends: My Life. New York: Ecco. p. 8. ISBN 0-06-052071-X. 
  2. ^ Leguizamo, p. 11
  3. ^ a b Zook, Kristal Brent. "Comedy That Hits Close to Home; Now a Father, John Leguizamo Looks Back Without Anger", The Washington Post, July 19, 2001. Accessed June 11, 2009. "Born in Bogota, Colombia, to a Puerto Rican father and a Colombian mother of Indian ancestry, [John Leguizamo] was raised in the multiethnic Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens."
  4. ^ Leguizamo, John (1998-02-08). "THEATER; In Town, on the Edge: Listening In on Solo Acts". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  5. ^ Leguizamo, p. 9
  6. ^ Leguizamo, p. 12
  7. ^ Leguizamo, p. 16
  8. ^ Singh, Anita (January 31, 2012). "Hay Festival Cartagena: John Leguizamo on Hollywood". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved January 31, 2012. 
  9. ^ "First Images: Brad Anderson's The Vanishing on 7th Street". DreadCentral. 
  10. ^ Bibbiani, William. "Kill Point: John Leguizamo". Retrieved 2011-10-08. 
  11. ^ Hurwitt, Robert (June 3, 2010). "John Leguizamo goes deeper, darker in 'Klown'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 13, 2012. 
  12. ^ Isherwood, Charles (March 22, 2011). "A Queens Guy Toughs It Out in Hollywood". The New York Times. Retrieved July 13, 2012. 
  13. ^ "John Leguizamo: Klass Klown". Retrieved 2011-10-08. 
  14. ^ "John Leguizamo to Play Lyceum Theatre on Broadway Starting Feb. 21". BroadwayWorld. 
  15. ^ "John Leguizamo honored for one-man play "Ghetto Klown"". Fox News Latino. 17 May 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  16. ^ "Drama Desk Awards Go to Book of Mormon, Normal Heart, War Horse, Sutton Foster, Norbert Leo Butz". Retrieved 2011-10-08. 
  17. ^ Wada, Karen. "John Leguizamo and 'Ghetto Klown' coming to the Ricardo Montalban Theatre". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  18. ^ Aucoin, Don (July 12, 2012). "In ‘Tales From a Ghetto Klown,’ Broadway minus the glitz". (The Boston Globe). 
  19. ^ Ghetto Klown - HBO - 0:56:00 and 1:20:00
  20. ^ "Knot Ready". 
  21. ^ John Leguizamo Biography - TV Guide
  22. ^ Art Imitates Life for John Leguizamo –
  23. ^ "Leguizamo Among Honorees For MADE IN NY Awards". Broadway World. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  24. ^ Szalai, Georg (6 June 2011). "Matt Damon, John Leguizamo, Late Sidney Lumet Honored With 'Made in NY' Awards". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  25. ^ a b Gratereaux, Alexandra (2011-10-06). "Leguizamo’s Dad: John's Not Puerto Rican!". Fox News Latino. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  26. ^ "Huge crowd for Puerto Rican parade". Eyewitness News. WABC-TV. 2011-06-13. 
  27. ^ "Fresh Intelligence : Radar Online : John Leguizamo Trashes Everyone He's Ever Worked With". Radar Online. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2011-10-08. 
  28. ^ El Paseo 2 (2012) - IMDb
  29. ^ The Broadway League. "The official source for Broadway Information". IBDB. Retrieved 2011-10-08. 

External links[edit]