John Leguizamo Biography
Born: July 22, 1964
Date of Birth: July 22, 1964
Born in Bogota, Columbia, John Leguizamo immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of four. Deciding that he wanted to go into acting, he studied the craft at New York University. Leguizamo began his career as a stand-up comedian in various New York clubs, and debuted on television with a 1986 turn on Miami Vice.
"After the New York Times called me an actor of 'virtuosic range' I was offered three film parts: a gang member, a bank robber, a drug dealer. Three juicy roles to challenge a virtuoso, no?"
His film debut followed 1989 with small roles in Casualties of War, Die Hard 2 and Regarding Henry, all of which he played criminal roles.
In 1991, Leguizamo became an off-Broadway sensation as the writer and performer of the one-man show Mambo Mouth. He received an Obie, Outer Critics Circle, and Vanguardin Award for the play, in which he portrayed seven different Latino characters. Mambo Mouth later aired on HBO, and Leguizamo received a CableACE Award. Leguizamo's second one-man show, Spic-O-Rama, had an extended sold-out run in Chicago at the Goodman and Briar Street Theaters before opening to rave reviews and sell-out houses in New York.
In 1995, Leguizamo created and starred in House of Buggin', a TV comedy-variety show in the style of Fox's In Living Color that was the first show of its kind to feature an all-Latino cast. Despite a number of positive reviews, and two Emmy nominations, the show was cancelled after a relatively brief run. Meanwhile, Leguizamo's film work was winning him greater recognition: his turn as the flamboyantly trashy Chi Chi Rodriguez in To Wong Foo: Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar netted him a Golden Globe nomination.
Leguizamo continued on a prolific bent, starring in Pest and William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet in 1996 and making additional appearances in such films as The Fan (1996), Spawn (1997), and Dr. Dolittle (1998).
However, he received his most favorable notices for his continuing stage work as he made his Broadway debut in 1998 with Freak, a "demi-semi-quasi-pseudo-autobiographical" one-man show. The show was a critical and commercial success, and it won an Emmy when it was shown on TV later that year.
In 1999, Leguizamo took on a very different role for Summer of Sam. Playing a womanizer racked with Catholic guilt for cheating on his wife, Leguizamo combined humor and pathos in his characterization of a deeply conflicted man. This year also saw Leguizamo branch out into producing, serving as executive producer (and star) of Joe the King.
At the beginning of the new millennium he lined up three new projects: the thriller, King of the Jungle, the musical drama, Moulin Rouge starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor and the sci-fi animation flick, Titan A.E..
Leguizamo currently divides his time between Los Angeles and New York. Recently, Leguizamo has announced the founding of Lower East Side Films with his partner, David Bar Katz, dedicated to bringing his unique perspective to both studio and independent films. He admits, "The only way to change things is to write and be in control of projects." In 2004 he received a Norman Lear Writer's Award from the Imagen Foundation. Some of Leguizamo's big-screen gigs include starring opposite Katherine Heigl in the comedy One for the Money (2012), based on the Stephanie Plum character from Janet Evanovich's popular novels.
He voiced the character of Sid the Sloth in Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), a role he took on for the film's first three films, and will be reprising in the 2016 sequel Ice Age: Collision Course. He can also be seen in the biopic The Infiltrator (2016), the crime thriller Jekyll Island (2016), and John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017).
He dated actress Carolyn McDermott from 1986 to 1991 before he married Justine Maurer, with whom he shares a daughter, Allegra Sky and a son, Ryder Lee.