LEGUIZAMO: "THOSE ARE ALL MY FRIENDS, AND MY EX-WIFE" IN 'CARLITO'S WAY'
IndieWire's Christian Zilko summarizes part of a GQ video interview (below) in which "John Leguizamo Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters" -
In an interview with GQ, Leguizamo revealed that he was so sick of auditioning to play drug dealers early in his career that he considered passing on his now-iconic role as Benny Blanco in Brian De Palma’s “Carlito’s Way.”
“I’m a Latin guy and I didn’t wanna play another drug dealer. I was just kind of sick of that kind of routine,” Leguizamo said. “So I turned it down three times.”
He continued to resist the role, only to learn that one of Hollywood’s other rising Hispanic stars, Benicio Del Toro, was also in the mix for it. Once he learned Del Toro was interested, Leguizamo said that he opted to do the film after realizing it was a good career move.
“The producers said, ‘Look, this is the last time I’m coming to you. We’re gonna go to Benicio,'” he said. “Okay, I’ll take it!”
Leguizamo’s thoughts about not wanting to play drug dealers echo similar comments he made in a recent interview with IndieWire. The actor explained that the limited range of roles he was considered for as a young actor shaped his view about the importance of representation in films.
But the really interesting stuff about filming Carlito's Way comes after that. "I did a lot of research," Leguizamo says in the video. "I hung out with a lot of drug dealers in the L.E.S. And I was crazy, because I thought I had celebrity immunity, and then I realized nobody's going to care about it when they shoot them up. One of the guys I was running with, his brother got shot. I'm glad I left, because, yeah, I would have got shot, too. But all that research paid off, and Brian De Palma let me bring all my friends in the club scene. Those are all my friends, and my ex-wife. So I felt really comfortable and at home, and I improvised all that dialogue with Pacino. De Palma taught me how to act on film, on this flick. He let me do... I did, like, thirty takes of my entrance, on film. Which is unherad of. You did an independent film back then, you had to beg for another take. You had to have a good reason, because it was too expensive. And he did thirty takes on my entrance, and I would do crazier things, and he'd laugh. I'd knock people's trays down, I'd throw my cigarette at people, and he loved it."