Interview with Latin History for Morons star John Leguizamo

We catch up with the Tony Award nominee and Emmy Award winner to chat Latin History AND Morons...

John Leguizamo

After the Opening Night of Latin History for Morons at Broadway's Studio 54, we had the opportunity to speak to John Leguizamo - the writer and star of the, in equal parts, educational and entertaining solo show. Mr. Leguizamo has made quite the name for himself in the theatre world with previous one-man show outings, even picking up two Tony Award nominations in 1998 (for writing and performing) for Freak. He was also awarded an Obie Award for Mambo Mouth in 1991, a Theatre World Award for Spic-O-Rama in 1993 and won a Drama Desk Award for Ghetto Klown in 2011.

Internationally he is known for his film roles, most notably for his Golden Globe-nominated performance as Chi-Chi in "To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar" (1995), as Tybalt in Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" (1996) and as Toulouse-Lautrec in Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge!" (2001). He also voices the lead role of Sid the Sloth in the popular "Ice Age" movie franchise.


John Leguizamo in Latin History for Morons
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

How are you feeling after the rush of Opening Night, John?

I’m feeling good, man! I’m so glad this day has come and gone already because you know it’s mad stressful. The toughest nights are Opening Night and Closing Night. It’s all industry [people]. So it was fun to get this off my chest.

It’s not your first time at the rodeo performing these solo shows and ending up on Broadway. Does it get any easier each time?

It does get easier because you know what to expect. I mean, I’ve still got to be reminded to be present and to be in my own artistic mind, you know what I mean? Not to be doing it for others, not to give away your power - there’s all these little phrases that you say to yourself before you perform. You’ve got to be within yourself and for yourself.

What are the biggest challenges and biggest advantages of doing a solo show and being out there on your own, as opposed to being part of a cast?

Well, I think it’s the most authentic conversation between an artist and an audience because it’s just me and them. It’s the most naked you can be. It’s the most raw you can be. It’s up to you how far you want to push the audience. And it’s up to them how far they want to be pushed.

I guess you are used to an element of heckling from the audience in that kind of environment? The night I attended you stated a historical fact that there were so many millions of Latinos living in America until… And then you left a brief pause before you gave the year, but a lady in the audience yelled out “Trump!” Would you care to retort?

Oh, yeah! Well, I didn’t have a retort at the time because I didn’t totally hear her. I had heard something, but I had turned around, so I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t retort because I wasn’t sure, but my shows are more like “call and response”. They’re more like church. Some people do feel free and they do call out and I love it! It energises the evening and it feels like a play between two people, rather than a one-man show. It gives it life in a way you’ve never seen!

Latin History for Morons Tickets are available now for performances through to February 25, 2018.