John Leguizamo on his latest role in Christmas dark comedy “Violent Night”

Actor John Leguizamo discusses his latest role in the unconventional Christmas film “Violent Night,” his career and what it means to be representing the Latinx community in Hollywood.
5:32 | 12/08/22

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Transcript for John Leguizamo on his latest role in Christmas dark comedy “Violent Night”
>>> JOHN LEGUIZAMO IS MUCH MORE THAN A FAMILIAR FACE. THE VERSATILE ACTOR HAS DELIVERED CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED PERFORMANCES ON STAGE AND SCREEN FOR DECADES. HIS NEW CHRISTMAS TWIST "VIOLENT NIGHT" IS JUST OUT. HIS CATALOG RUNS DEEP. EVERYTHING FROM LUIGI IN THE 1993 FILM "SUPER MARIO BROTHERS" TO A GANGSTER TURN IN "CARLITO'S WAY." A BOHEMIAN ARTIST IN "MOULIN ROUGE." HIS ONE-MAN SHOW "LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS" EARNED A TONY NOMINATION. HE'S LENT HIS VOICE TO ANIMATED FAVORITES INCLUDING BRUNO IN "ENCANTO." WITH ALL THAT EXPERIENCE COMES INSIGHT. NOW LEGUIZAMO IS USING THAT VOICE TO SPEAK OUT FOR THE LATINX COMMUNITY AND SPEAK OUT AGAINST WHAT HE CALLS A FAILURE OF REPRESENTATION IN HOLLYWOOD. I SAT DOWN WITH HIM TO LEARN MORE. JOHN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. I WANT TO START WITH "VIOLENT NIGHT." WE SEE A SANTA CLAUS WE'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE, AND YOU PLAY A BAD-ASS BAD GUY. >> IT'S A FASCINATING FLICK. IT'S AN ANTI-CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS MOVIE. IT'S FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE CHRISTMAS MOVIES. THIS IS YOUR MOVIE. SANTA DRINKS, CURSES, PUNCHES PEOPLE OUT. THEN I PLAY THIS DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE OF THIS SUPER-WEALTHY, PRIVILEGED FAMILY WHO USES FOR MONEY FOR EVIL ACROSS THE WORLD. I'M LIKE A TOXIC ROBIN HOOD. >> THIS IS OUR SANTY CLAUS? >> ITRESS TO WHOM AM I SPEAKING? >> TONIGHT, I'M MR. SCROOGE NOW. WHAT IS IT YOU WANT EXACTLY, SANTA? >> I WANT YOU TO PUT DOWN YOUR WEAPONS. I WANT YOU TO LET THIS FAMILY GO. THEN I WANT TO FIND MY REINDEER AND I WANT TO CONTINUE DELIVERING MY PRESENTS. >> DID YOU ENJOY WORKING ON THIS FILM? >> I HAD A BLAST, MAN. TOMMY RICROLA, SO BRILLIANT. THE CAST, A CHEF'S CAST. DAVID HARBOUR, AMAZING TO WORK WITH. I GOT TO FIGHT AT MY AGE, IT WAS INCREDIBLE, I LOOKED LIKE AN ACTION STAR. >> YOU DID. WE'RE BOTH 62 YEARS OLD. YOU WERE REPRESENTING OUR GENERATION WELL WITH YOUR FIGHTING SKILLS. >> I'M NOT GOING TO LIE, I WAS HURTING THE NEXT DAY. I COULDN'T GET OUT OF BED. I HAD TO ROLL OFF. I FELL OFF THE BED, ROLLED ON THE GROUND FOR A LITTLE BIT TILL I WAS HUMAN AGAIN. >> I UNDERSTAND. AS SOMEONE WHO'S FOLLOWED YOUR CAREER, I'VE ALWAYS SENSED THAT, IN MY WORDS, THAT YOUR ACTING HAS ALWAYS HAD SWAGGER. NO MATTER WHAT ROLE YOU PLAY, YOU BRING SOMETHING TO THE STAGE. I'VE ALSO NOTICED WITH YOUR ACTIVISM, THERE'S ALSO SWAGGER IN THAT. YOU WROTE THIS OP-ED RECENTLY IN THE L.A. TYPES WHERE YOU SPOKE TRUTH TO POWER TO HOLLYWOOD ABOUT THE LATINX COMMUNITY. TALK TO ME ABOUT THAT. >> YEAH, I FELT I NEEDED TO SPEAK OUT ON THIS -- NOT FOR ME, IT'S FOR LATIN YOUTH IN AMERICA. WE'RE THE LARGEST ETHNIC GROUP IN AMERICA, ONE OF THE OLDEST ETHNIC GROUPS IN AMERICA. AND WE'RE INVISIBLE IN THIS COUNTRY. IT'S BIZARRE TO ME. THERE'S SO MUCH LATIN TALENT THAT'S BEING WASTED IN AMERICA AND DREAMS THAT ARE BEING CRUSHED. >> CERTAINLY THIS IS NOT A NEW PHENOMENON. I'M STRUCK, I'M CURIOUS, WHY NOT? WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO TAKE YOUR CELEBRITY, YOUR STATUS, TO MAKE THIS POINT NOW? >> BECAUSE I HAVE CELEBRITY, BECAUSE I HAVE STATUS. SO THIS IS MY CHANCE TO HAVE MAXIMUM EFFECT AND GET THIS MESSAGE OUT, HAVE IT AMPLIFIED BY MY LATINX ACTIVISTS WHO ARE SOLDIERS ON THE STREETS AND IN SOCIAL MEDIA, AMPLIFY MY VOICE. BECAUSE IT'S TIME. WHERE'S OUR DUE RESPECT? WHY IS THE DECEMBER CONNECT THAT WE'RE NOT GETTING OUR FACES OUT THERE OR THE POSITIONS OF POWER THAT WE DESERVE? >> ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC AT ALL ABOUT THE FUTURE? >> MOVING FORWARD, BUT IT'S TOO INCREMENTAL. THE PROBLEM FOR ME IS, HOW MANY LATIN BEAUTIFUL TALENT HAS TO BE WASTED WITH THIS INCREMENTAL GROWTH? WHITE PEOPLE ARE 59% OF THE POPULATION, WHY ARE THEY 100% OF THE EXECUTIVES, 100% OF THE STORIES, THE CAST? THAT'S NOT FAIR, THAT'S NOT PARITY, THAT'S NOT JUSTICE, THAT'S NOT EQUAL. >> READING ABOUT YOUR BACKSTORY, YOUR FAMILY FIRST MOVED TO NEW YORK. YOU WERE THE ONLY LATIN COMMUNITY IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. YOU SAID THAT'S WHERE YOU LEARNED TO BE FUNNY, YOU EMBRACED COMEDY. IT SEEMS YOU HAVE FOR YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, YOU'VE RECOGNIZED YOUR ROLE IN THE WORLD. IN SOME WAYS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO SPEAK IN THOSE SPACES. BLESSING OR BURDEN TO ALWAYS HAVE TO BE THAT GUY? >> OBVIOUSLY I'D RATHER NOT BE TALKING ABOUT RACE ALL THE TIME, WHO WANTS TO BE TALKING ABOUT THAT? BUT IT'S NOT A CHOICE FOR ME. IT'S GREAT FOR WHITE PEOPLE THAT THEY CAN TURN IT ON AND OFF BUT I CAN'T. BECAUSE IT'S ALWAYS IN MY FACE. I'M ALWAYS BEING REMINDED THAT I CAN'T HAVE THIS, I CAN'T BE THAT. AND THAT DOESN'T SIT WELL WITH ME. >> YOU ARE HAVING A WONDERFUL CAREER, MORE THAN YOU'VE -- YOU'VE APERRED IN OVER 100 MOVIES, PRODUCED OVER 20 FILMS AND DOCUMENTARIES, STARRED ON BROADWAY AND TELEVISION, IT GOES ON AND ON -- >> I'M UNSTOPPABLE, BABY. >> RIGHT, RIGHT? >> I'M A FIGHTER, MAN. I GREW UP IN A TOUGH NEIGHBORHOOD. I WAS ALWAYS GETTING BEAT UP. IT PREPARED ME FOR THIS TOUGH HOLLYWOOD SITUATION. HOLLYWOOD NEVER ACCEPTED ME, NEVER GAVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY. SO I'M ANTI-HOLLYWOOD. UNTIL I GET PARITY. I'M NOT -- YOU KNOW, HOL IS NOT REALLY MY FRIEND. >> WE'RE SO GRATEFUL FOR YOU, YOUR APPEARANCE ON "NIGHTLINE." WE WISH YOU CONTINUED GRACE. >> WHAT A PLEASURE. THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

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