Blog #235 12/10/17
A few months ago Beverly and I attended the John Leguizamo one man show
“Latin History for Morons” at the Public Theater in NYC. The origin of the show arose from Leguizamo’s desire to instill ethnic pride in his teenage son by teaching him about Latin American heroes.
After doing extensive research on the subject, the actor used his new knowledge, clever writing and sense of humor to create an informative, funny and fascinating play.
We had a marvelous theatrical experience.
The show was so well-done and reviewed that it has opened up on Broadway at Studio 54: “JOHN LEGUIZAMO: LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS”
For my “Actors Acting” project a couple years ago, I had asked Leguizamo to come to my studio for a portrait shoot and an interview. He turned out to be a wonderful subject, both as an actor, and as himself.
This is some of the work we created together:
Truck driver on a long, cross-country delivery one evening at a truck stop diner in Texas, flirting relentlessly with a cute waitress.
Track coach for USA in the Olympics, his relay team in the lead, seeing the
anchor runner drop the baton at the start of the final stage of the 4×100 meters.
A 15-year-old guest at the table of his best friend’s evangelical parents has just said “Oh, shit!“
A 280 pound veteran NFL defensive tackle staring down at a rookie quarterback he has just thunderously sacked, announcing: “I thought I’d introduce myself!”
A new member of the White House communication team realizing that the
information he gave the president, who has tweeted it, was completely bogus.
Man preparing to propose to his girlfriend on a stadium “kiss cam” feeling the splat of seagull poop on his head.
My parents were immigrants and worked their asses off so I hardly ever saw them. I was a latchkey kid. But that gives you a lot of freedom to be on your own and to investigate the world; it gave me a lot of strength, meeting different kids, white kids, black kids. Shifting through those different groups, you get to really know how to be a diplomat in the world.
Acting is instinctive, intuitive, so the less your brain gets involved the better actor you are. I take roles that I know are not easy for me, and that keeps me growing. I always try to do research. I always try to meet somebody who is like the part I’m playing. If I want to be an Iraqi vet, I am going to meet a lot of American soldiers and talk to them. Get their stories and you’ll get the character.
In some acting classes with some of the greats I would be petrified to go up there and humiliate myself. I almost wet myself – it was that kind of fear. Everything about acting is like that. Auditioning, rehearsals, promoting your movie, the acting classes, the whole thing is built on, like, go out there and humiliate yourself. On the other hand, it’s great and you get paid for it, so I just show up to do the best I can and the rest is not really pertinent. Just have a great time and help other people have a great time too, do not be a pain in the ass, and we all have fun because whether a movie does well or not it is not really your fault.
I work with a lot of first time directors, and I have to take a lot more responsibility, but I love it. It does not always gel. Otherwise every movie would be a big hit. But there is always something you can take away from it, either you did a great part in a bad movie, or you did a really bad part in a great movie. But if the movie is big, it doesn’t really matter how bad you were. There is always something.
As are so many of my shoots with accomplished individuals, the portrait session with Leguizamo was a privilege.
Good luck on Broadway, John.