John Leguizamo Talks Playing With Fire and the 2020 Election
"I wanted people to know that being Latin is a superpower," the actor says of his Latin History for Morons show. "We’re all still here and we’re still thriving."
John Leguizamo has appeared in over 100 movies and TV shows throughout his career, but that doesn't mean he has any plans to slow down now. The veteran actor has a part in the new movie Playing With Fire, which also stars John Cena and Keegan Michael-Key. In the movie, out Friday, Leguizamo plays Lieutenant Rodrigo Torres, a convict-turned-firefighter with a passion for food. “Being Latinx added to the flavoring of my character and his choice of food,” the actor tells People CHICA. “I did my grandmother's recipe, her chocolate jalapeño Christmas cake. That was dope.”
The family-friendly movie is about a team of firefighters who get stuck babysitting three children after they get separated from their parents. As a father of two himself, Leguizamo knows a thing or two about keeping kids entertained. “Being a dad definitely makes you love all kids,” he says. “All kids feel like they're yours, so that made it a lot easier. Plus these kids were brilliant. They were so incredibly talented.”
The Romeo + Juliet star is also currently on tour with his Broadway show Latin History for Morons, educating audiences all over the country. “I wanted people to know that being Latin is a superpower,” he says of the show's message. “[Latin History] shows what we've come from — the oppression, the erasure, the destruction of all of our empires — but we're all still here and we're still thriving and we're still badass.”
It's been a busy year for the actor, who also appeared in the Emmy-winning Netflix series When They See Us. The show follows the story of the Exonerated Five, who were accused of and imprisoned for a 1989 rape they did not commit; they were exonerated in 2002. “Ava DuVernay called me up. She was in Cannes for one of her big movies, and she asked me to take a look at the script and I fell in love with it,” Leguizamo says of his involvement with the project. “I thought it was such a powerful, important piece of work that needed to get out there, needed to be seen, and I jumped into it.”
Aside from acting and producing, the actor is also heavily involved in politics, and is very vocal about the subject on social media. He says he's so outspoken because he feels he has a responsibility to give back as a person who's had so much success. He's a supporter of former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro's campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. “He's so bright, so together,” says Leguizamo.
In addition to the ongoing Latin History tour, Leguizamo has several other projects in the pipeline. He's working on a musical called Kiss My Aztec that he describes as “really funny, vulgar, raunchy and political.” Next year, he stars in Harry Haft, a “beautiful movie” that also features Ben Foster, Peter Sarsgaard and Danny DeVito. And if he weren't an actor? “I'd like to be a writer, like Gabriel García Márquez, Junot Díaz or Roberto Bolaño,” he says. “There's something really powerful about novelists and how they can change a whole century, and the way they can make changes in the way we see the world, in a way that no other medium can.”