CATEGORIES Celebrity InterviewsGenre-defying actor John Leguizamo ('Romeo + Juliet', 'Carlito's Way,' 'To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar') is set to debut his latest one-man show, 'Ghetto Klown,' for an 11-day run in Toronto beginning November 9. This is Leguizamo's fifth one-man show, and he promises it will raise the bar for one-man shows everywhere. The show is based on Leguizamo's life, and includes some of his deepest, darkest secrets that he previously only told his therapist. He enlisted long-time friend Fisher Stevens (who recently won an Oscar for his producing role on 'The Cove') to direct the show.
The famously-energetic Leguizamo has also just wrapped filming the movie 'Fugly,' which is a fictionalized version of 'Ghetto Klown.' He spent eight years nurturing this passion project, which he developed at the Sundance Institute's Writer's and Producer's Labs. On top of all of that, he's also in several upcoming movies, including 'Vanishing on 7th Street,' 'One for the Money,' and 'The Lincoln Lawyer.'
Moviefone caught up with Leguizamo to talk about everything from blunt fans to why he loves Kevin Smith to how he maintains his famous energy levels – and flexibility!
What made you decide to do another one-man show?
I know, it's my fifth! One-man shows just happen to me. They start writing themselves in my head and I felt like I had something new to say, something new to talk about. I started listening to my conversations with my publicist, my manager and my therapist and all these things that you don't want anybody to know and started to write it down.
What can we expect from 'Ghetto Klown'? Will you be dancing?
Oh yeah. I always gotta bring the dancing in. There might even be singing. I'm trying impersonations now. I've never done impersonations before. I'll do Pacino, Steven Seagal, Patrick Swayze, Bob Hoskins, Baz Luhrmann, Brian de Palma.
I would imagine that doing a one-man show would be quite physically demanding. Do you have any special training routine?
Yeah. Usually I start running a lot before. Like about three miles. That's basically it. A lot of leg strengthening. And I've gotta stay really flexible so I can handle it. I mean, it's a two-hour show with a 20-minute intermission, so I've really got to have the stamina to last through it.
Do you do yoga to work on your flexibility?
Yeah, yeah. I do yoga. I've been doing the yoga. A lot of stretching. A lot of breathing exercises. I've been trying to get off the coffee. I quit smoking a long time ago.
How did you and Fisher Stevens connect for this?
Fisher and I, we go way back. I was trying to pick a director for my show that knew me, knew the business, knew acting and was really funny and really intellectual and I thought of him. He really gets this career and the ups and downs of being an artist – the struggles and the betrayals. He totally gets it.
Has he changed at all since his big Oscar win earlier this year?
He is crazy busy. He is not off that phone. He's on that Crackberry 24/7. People calling him and inviting him to do this, save the Gulf, save the whales. Acting gigs. His career took off. So it's harder for me to get him to sit down to rehearse.
Did you pin him down before the Oscar win?
Yeah, luckily I got him before. [Laughing.] Before he blew up.
On the 'Ghetto Klown' Twitter page I noticed you do a lot of shout-outs to Kevin Smith. Is he involved with [your upcoming movie] 'Fugly' at all?
No, I just like the dude. I like that he produces his own stuff. He's an idol of mine. I like that he really stays true to his vision and he's always a dude that does his own thing.
Have you guys ever worked together before?
We were close to working together, it just hasn't happened yet.
Do you think it will happen?
Oh yeah, eventually. It's got to happen.
Nice. Do you think it would be a comedy or something more serious?
Well I like the dramedy stuff so hopefully it'll be one of those. A little combo.
Your resume is obviously very diverse. How do you choose your projects?
I prefer to pick a role that I like in a movie that I sort of like, rather than being in a role that I don't like in a movie that I really like.
How did you get involved with [the upcoming post-apocalyptic thriller] 'Vanishing on 7th Street'?
[Director] Brad Anderson called me and asked me to go for coffee. We went to a little shop where I lost my bag -- which is too bad -- but we hit it off. He said he had this intellectual little property. So I read it. I really liked what it was trying to say. It was very sophisticated and creepy.
Do you get recognized a lot, and what sorts of things do fans say to you?
It depends where I'm at. New Yorkers are funky because they'll say whatever's on their mind. They'll try to compliment you by saying something like "Oh man, I loved you in that movie. I didn't like that movie but I loved you in the movie." Or like, "What were you doing in that movie?" All kinds of stuff like that. That's what I like about New York, it keeps you real, whether you like to be real or not. People in Canada are much more polite and respectful.
Can you tell me a bit about the 'Fugly' movie?
Yeah, we just wrapped. It's been a passion project of mine. Based on my life, that's why it's called 'Fugly.' Kind of fictionalized, though. It starts with coming to America and growing up in Jackson Heights and ghetto light and getting into performance arts – street performing, comedy clubs, performance art, one-man shows, movies, first wife, move on to the second.
What was it like putting 'Fugly' together after working on it for 8 years?
It was incredible. I was in shock. It wasn't easy because it was a low-budget feature, so you've got to struggle a lot. We were pulling 16-hour days and the crew sometimes 20-hour days. We shot in New York, in the neighborhoods where I grew up.
What else do you have coming up?
I'm in 'One for the Money' with Katherine Heigl. I play a boxing manager. And I've got this other movie with Matthew McConaughey, 'The Lincoln Lawyer,' I play a bail bondsman. They were pretty fun. But I think 'Ghetto Klown' is going to be the one-man show that everybody's going to have to try to top. That's for sure. I'm doing things that are so raw, so real and sometimes incredibly embarrassing. But from the reactions I've gotten, people feel incredibly inspired by the show and think wow, if he can do it, I can do it.
If you're going to be in Toronto in November, check out Leguizamo's show.