In 1993’s Carlito’s Way, the Emmy Award winner, 62, called working with Al Pacino “an odd experience” because the actor was white and portraying a Puerto Rican character. “
Before then he played a Cuban,” Leguizamo said of Pacino’s 1983 film Scarface. “
The To Wong Foo actor has a history of speaking out against the lack of diversity in the media.
Nearly 30 years later, John Leguizamo is finally being honest about his breakthrough movie. In 1993’s Carlito’s Way, the Emmy Award winner, 62, called working with Al Pacino “an odd experience” because the actor was white and portraying a Puerto Rican character.
“You know, it was a thing of the times. Before then he played a Cuban,” Leguizamo said of Pacino’s 1983 film Scarface. “Yeah, in that he’s kind of doing like a Cuban/Mexican accent.”
When Carlito Brigante, the character played by Al Pacino in Carlito’s Way, is released from prison, he intends to start over. However, he becomes involved in Dave Kleinfeld’s shady business dealings.
“I know he’s trying and he’s a great actor, so brilliant, he was my hero. But it was odd, man. It’s an odd experience to be a Latin man in a Latin story written by a Latin man and the lead guy’s a white guy pretending to be Puerto Rican. I’m not going to lie, it’s surreal. It was surreal,” he added.
In his breakthrough role as gangster Benny Blanco, Leguizamo admitted that he “turned the part down a few times,” but later decided to take it on.
He said, “Hollywood has always been crazy; it always has been weird. “Holly-wouldn’t” has always been the phrase. And I was prepared for this.”
The To Wong Foo actor has a history of speaking out against the lack of diversity in the media. In 2020, he will abstain from the 72nd Emmy Awards because there aren’t enough Latinx nominees, and he’s also talked openly about his experience navigating Hollywood as a person of color.
After his colorblind casting as the Italian video game character Luigi in 1993’s Super Mario Bros., alongside the late Bob Hoskins as his brother Mario, he most recently criticized the casting news of James Franco as Fidel Castro and Chris Pratt as Mario.
In a previous interview with the news, Leguizamo discussed the difficulties faced by actors of color in Hollywood as he prepared to direct his first film, Critical Thinking.
“I mean, we’re less than 1% of the stories told by Hollywood and streaming media and networks when we’re almost 20% of the population, 25% of the U.S. box office,” Leguizamo said in 2020. “I just feel like it’s such a damage to kids not to see themselves reflected back in positive ways.”
Both The Menu and Violent Night, currently in theaters, feature Leguizamo.
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