John Leguizamo was born on July 22, 1965 in Bogota, Columbia and later moved to New York. He is best known for his memorable, often sharply satirical, characterizations of Latinos on stage and in film. Leguizamo’s began his career as a stand-up comedian in New York clubs and as a performer in small independent feature films. He also attended New York University where he studied acting.
His first real break was when he was cast as Calderone Jr. on the hit TV series “Miami Vice.” He then landed roles in a string of other notable movies, such as, “Carlito’s Way,” “Casualties of War,” “Revenge,” “Regarding Henry,” “Whispers In The Dark,” “Super Mario Bros.” and “Die Hard 2.” He was typically cast as a violent, unsavory fellow.
He also has an impressive stage experience, with work including “A Mid Summer’s Night Dream,” and “La Puta Vida,” at the New York Shakespeare Festival, and in “Parting Gestures” at INTAR. Leguizamo became an off-Broadway sensation in 1991 as the writer and performer of a one-man show, “Mambo Mouth.” The show took a scathing look at Hispanic stereotypes, and received an Obie, Outer critics Circle and Baguardia Award. His follow-up play “Spic-O-Rama,” was equally funny and thought provoking. It played in Chicago for an extended, sold-out run at the Goodman and Briar Street Theatres prior to opening to stellar reviews and sold-out houses in New York. The show received numerous awards including a Drama Desk Award for Best Solo Performance and the Dramatists’ Guild Hull-Warriner Award for Best American Play. It also aired on HBO and took home four ACE Awards.
He is probably best known for his performance as the sensitive drag queen in “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. He went on to star in several other feature films such as “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes and “The Fan.” Leguizamo then started “House of Bugin” for the Fox Network. He set a precedent by starring in the first Latin comedy/variety show. The series capitalized on the actor’s comedic abilities, which were demonstrated in his earlier works on stage and later on TV, and won him an Emmy nomination and three Monitor Awards. Unfortunately, though the show received good ratings, it failed to attract an audience and was canceled after only a few months.
He then stared, wrote and co-produced another showcase for his remarkable talent called “The Pest,” a comedy about a mischievous con artist who attempts to out smart his pursuers by taking on a range of persona’s.
Presently John just finished “Freak” on Broadway, but he’s already involved in two new movies. One of his current films, “Summer of Sam,” is about the 1977 Son of Sam murders in New York City, in which John will play the infamous David Berkowitz. The other film is “Pleasant View Avenue,” both movies are due out next year, so watch for them!
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