John Leguizamo

Biography

Date of Birth 22 July 1964, Bogotá, Colombia Height 5' 8" (1.73 m) Mini Biography Fast-talking and feisty-looking John Leguizamo has continued to impress movie audiences with his versatility: he can play sensitive and naïve young men, such as Johnny in Hangin' with the Homeboys (1991); cold-blooded killers like Benny Blanco in Carlito's Way (1993); a heroic Navy SEAL, stopping aerial terrorists in Executive Decision (1996); and drag queen Chi-Chi Rodriguez in To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995). Arguably, not since ill-fated actor and comedian Freddie Prinze starred in the smash TV series "Chico and the Man" (1974) has a youthful Latino personality had such a powerful impact on critics and fans alike. Born July 22, 1964, in Bogotá, Colombia, Leguizamo was four when his family emigrated to the United States. He was raised in Queens, New York, attended New York University and studied under legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg for only one day before Strasberg passed away. The extroverted Leguizamo started working the comedy club circuit in New York and first appeared in front of the cameras in an episode of "Miami Vice" (1984). His first film appearance was a small part in Mixed Blood (1985), and he had minor roles in Casualties of War (1989) and Die Hard 2 (1990) before playing a liquor store thief who shoots Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry (1991). His career really started to soar after his first-rate performance in the independent film Hangin' with the Homeboys (1991) as a nervous young teenager from the Bronx out for a night in brightly lit Manhattan with his buddies, facing the career choice of staying in a supermarket or heading off to college and finding out that the girl he loves from afar isn't quite what he thought she was. The year 1991 was also memorable for other reasons, as he hit the stage with his show Mambo Mouth (1991) (TV), in which he portrayed seven different Latino characters. The witty and incisive show was a smash hit and won the Obie and Outer Circle Critics Award, and later was filmed for HBO, where it picked up a CableACE Award. He returned to the stage two years later with another satirical production poking fun at Latino stereotypes titled Spic-O-Rama (1993) (TV). It played in Chicago and New York, and won the Drama Desk Award and four CableACE Awards. In 1995 he created and starred in the short-lived TV series "House of Buggin'" (1995), an all-Latino-cast comedy variety show featuring hilarious sketches and comedic routines. The show scored two Emmy nominations and received positive reviews from critics, but it was canceled after only one season. The gifted Leguizamo was still keeping busy in films, with key appearances in Super Mario Bros. (1993), Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Spawn (1997). In 1998 he made his Broadway debut in Freak (1998) (TV), a "demi-semi-quasi-pseudo-autobiographical" one-man show, which was filmed for HBO by Spike Lee. Utilizing his distinctive vocal talents, he next voiced a pesky rat in Doctor Dolittle (1998) before appearing in the dynamic Spike Lee-directed Summer of Sam (1999) as a guilt-ridden womanizer, as the Genie of The Lamp in the exciting Arabian Nights (2000) (TV) and as Henri de Toulouse Lautrec in the visually spectacular Moulin Rouge! (2001). He also voiced Sid in the animated Ice Age (2002), co-starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Collateral Damage (2002) and directed and starred in the boxing film Undefeated (2003) (TV). Afterward, Leguizamo starred in the remake of the John Carpenter hit Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) and George A. Romero's long-awaited fourth "Dead" film, Land of the Dead (2005). There can be no doubt that the remarkably talented Leguizamo has been a breakthrough performer for the Latino community in mainstream Hollywood, in much the same way that Sidney Poitier crashed through celluloid barriers for African-Americans in the early 1960s. Among his many strengths lies his ability to not take his ethnic background too seriously but also to take pride in his Latino heritage. He has opened many doors for his countrymen. A masterly and accomplished performer, movie audiences await Leguizamo's next exciting performance. Spouse Justine Maurer (5 July 2003 - present) 2 children Yelba Osorio (27 August 1994 - November 1996) (divorced) Trivia Was voted "Most Talkative" in high school. Moved from Colombia to the United States with his family when he was three years old. Was accepted into Lee Strasberg's actors' studio and studied with the master for one day before Strasberg died. "I have that affect on people," Leguizamo quipped. Listed as one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1991" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 43. Dated Carolyn McDermott. [1986-1991] Daughter, Allegra Sky, born (with girlfriend Justine Maurer). [23 October 1999] John and Justine welcomed son Ryder Lee, weighing 8lbs 1oz. [5 December 2000] John's father, Alberto, is Puerto Rican while his mother, Luz is Colombian. They divorced when he was in his teens. Last name is actually pronounced: leh-gee-ZA-mo. Grew up in the Jackson Heights section of Queens, New York. Began writing material for himself in high school, testing it out on classmates. Majored in theater at New York University and was the only Latino in drama class. Father of Lucas Leguizamo and Allegra Leguizamo. For his role in Ice Age (2002), he tried a variety of different speaking voices for his character, Sid. After watching several hours of Discovery Channel footage of sloths, he developed the lisp, because sloths store food in their cheeks. Was nominated for two Tony Awards in 1998: as Best Actor (Play) and as Author of Best Play nominee, his one-man show titled "Freak." Although he is about 5' 8" in reality, he has played two characters who are technically little people (under 4' 11"): the Clown in Spawn (1997) and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Moulin Rouge! (2001). Although he was born in a Spanish-speaking country and has understood Spanish since childhood, Crónicas (2004) is his first Spanish-language acting performance. His parents encouraged him to maintain his Spanish, sometimes with bribes. They spoke to him in Spanish, but he usually replied in English. Was considered for the role of Det. Rey Curtis on "Law & Order" (1990). Mentioned on The Bob and Tom Show that he turned down the role of Tom Hanks' boyfriend in Philadelphia (1993) to do Super Mario Bros. (1993). Personal Quotes On what was it like in the Clown suit while filming Spawn (1997): "Like a penis wearing a condom". "I see the new Latin artist as a pioneer, opening up doors for others to follow. And when they don't open, we crowbar our way in." Comics are much smarter than actors. Most comedians come from a hard life, and have to struggle a lot. You have to have a lot of skills. When you can hone all of that, and act, you're going to blow the world away. "I always improvise, you know. That's my thing. Luckily, I'm a writer, so I always try...If there's great writing, improvising just adds a little bit more to it. Just takes it to another level. 'Cause an actor, believe it or not, really knows his character more than anybody else, even more than the original writer. Even more than the director. At some point, we know that character better than anybody else. Especially if you connect with it, and it's infinite possibilities that can come out of you. And I think the better directors know that they have final cut, and the more they let you go, the more choices they're gonna have in the editing room to create a performance or to change things. I mean, you just give them crazy choices and they can do whatever. A smart director, the more confident ones who have experience, know that in the editing room, it's all theirs. It's not a problem. It's the newer cats who haven't had experience who are sometimes a little too precious about their own words." - On improvising in films. "I love independent films, it's the only place as an actor you're totally allowed to breathe. You're not following the plot, or the next action beat, or promoting some big dumb movie. Independent film is for actors that love to act. There's more interesting storytelling. It's not about a paycheck, that's for damn sure." "Because you get to be free. Not that there's a problem with being the leading man, but the leading roles are always tough. It's hard. It's a really hard thing to do right, to get right, and it's not as fun to be the leading man. Being a supporting actor you have no responsibility. You just go there to play and have a really great time. And you have a really great time. You just go home and you enjoy everybody. When I'm the lead in a movie, you don't sleep, you focus on every aspect of the movie and it's a huge responsibility. And there aren't that many great leading parts, either. There are more, better written supporting parts than there are leading parts." - On why he always seems to play supporting roles. "I loved working on Carlito's Way, with Brian De Palma - it was so exciting and the first time I really understood what film acting was for me." "Marriage is wild. I thought it was this perfect land of happiness and joy. Wrong! After you say you do, you don't for a long time."

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Birth Name

John Alberto Leguizamo

Birth Place

Bogotá, Colombia

Birth Date

7/22/1960
Known For
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Moulin Rouge!

Toulouse-Lautrec

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Land of the Dead

Cholo DeMora

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Spawn

Clown / Violator

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Carlito's Way

Benny Blanco

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Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special

Sid (voice)

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Titan A.E.

Gune (voice)

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Violent Night

Scrooge

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Vanishing on 7th Street

Paul

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Summer of Sam

Vinny

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To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

Chi-Chi

Starring In
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Violent Night

Scrooge

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The Menu

Movie Star

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The Survivor

Bill 'Pepe' Miller

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Encanto

Bruno (voice)

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Dark Blood

Misael

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Night Clerk, The

Johnny Espada

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Critical Thinking

Mario Martinez

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Nancy

Jeb

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John Wick: Chapter 2

Aurelio

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The Crash

George Diebold

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11:55

Berto

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The Hollow Point

Atticus

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The Infiltrator

Emir Abreu

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Ice Age: Collision Course

Sid (voice)

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Ice Age: The Great Egg-scapade

Sid

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Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall

Himself

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Stealing Cars

Montgomery De La Cruz

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Get Squirrely

Fly Boy / Liam (voice)

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Sisters

Dave

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Experimenter

Taylor

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American Ultra

Rose

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Meadowland

Pete

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Cymbeline

Pisanio

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Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe

Sid (voice)

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John Wick

Aureilo

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Chef

Martin

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Ride Along

Santiago

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The Unbeatables

Ziggy (voice)

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Kick-Ass 2

Javier

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Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie

Alex (voice)

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Ice Age: Continental Drift

Sid (voice)

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One for the Money

Jimmy Alpha

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Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special

Sid (voice)

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Scrat's Continental Crack-Up: Part 2

Sid (voice)

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The Lincoln Lawyer

Val Valenzuela

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Vanishing on 7th Street

Paul

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The Ministers

Dante / Perfecto

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Gamer

Freek

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Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Sid (voice)

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Rage

Jed

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Miracle at St. Anna

Enrico

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Righteous Kill

Det. Simon Perez

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The Happening

Julian

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Surviving Sid

Sid (voice)

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Nothing Like the Holidays

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Paraiso Travel

Roger Pena

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The Babysitters

Michael Beltran

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Love in the Time of Cholera

Lorenzo Daza

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Show Business - The Road to Broadway

Himself

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The Take

Felix De La Pena

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Where God Left His Shoes

Frank Diaz

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Ice Age: The Meltdown

Sid (voice)

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The Groomsmen

TC

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Lies & Alibis

Hannibal

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Land of the Dead

Cholo DeMora

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Assault on Precinct 13

Beck

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The Honeymooners

Dodge

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Sueño

Antonio

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Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

Himself (9 episodes, 1997-2006)

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Cronicas

Manolo Bonilla

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Undefeated

Lex Vargas

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Empire

Victor Rosa

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Spun

Spider Mike

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Ice Age

Sid (voice)

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Collateral Damage

Felix Ramirez

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Point of Origin

Keith Lang

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De Superman à Spider-Man : L'aventure des super héros

Clown / Violator (archive footage)

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What's the Worst that Could Happen?

Berger

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Moulin Rouge!

Toulouse-Lautrec

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ZigZag

Dean Singer

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Titan A.E.

Gune (voice)

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Arabian Nights

Genie of the Lamp/Genie of the Ring

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King of the Jungle

Seymour

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Summer of Sam

Vinny

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Joe the King

Jorge

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The Source

Himself (archive footage)

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Dr. Dolittle

Rat #2 (voice)

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Body Count

Chino

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Frogs for Snakes

Zip

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Freak

Himself

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Spawn

Clown / Violator

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The Pest

Pest

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A Brother's Kiss

Lefty

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Romeo And Juliet

Tybalt

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The Fan

Manny

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Executive Decision

Captain Rat

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To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

Chi-Chi

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A Pyromaniac's Love Story

Sergio

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Carlito's Way

Benny Blanco

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Super Mario Bros.

Luigi Mario

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Night Owl

Angel

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Whispers in the Dark

John Castillo

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Regarding Henry

Liquor Store Gunman

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Out for Justice

Boy in Alley

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Poison

Chanchi (as Damien Garcia)

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Hangin' with the Homeboys

Johnny

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Street Hunter

Angel

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Die Hard 2

Burke

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Revenge

Ignacio

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Madonna: The Immaculate Collection

Friend of Boyfriend (segment "Borderline")

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Casualties of War

PFC. Antonio Diaz

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