John Alberto Leguizamo is a Columbian-American actor, stand-up comedian, playwright, voice actor, and producer. Not only in films but Leguizamo has also made appearances in several Broadway productions and has won several awards as well. He has also produced and starred in many television shows.
Leguizamo was born to Alberto and Luz Leguizamo in Bogota, Columbia. His paternal grandfather was of Italian and Puerto Rico descent and his maternal grandfather was Lebanese. Leguizamo's family moved to the United States when he was four. The family moved around in the US, living in several places before settling in Jackson Heights, New York City. Leguizamo grew up as one of the first Latino children in Jackson Heights and would occasionally get attacked. Trying to defend himself in the hostile neighborhood, Leguizamo learned to be funny, so as to avoid getting hit. He later revealed that this paved way for his acting abilities.
Leguizamo went to the Joseph Pulitzer Middle School, and later completed his schooling from the Murry Bergtraum High School. It was at Murry Bergtraum that Leguizamo experimented writing comedy material and performed it for his classmates. Soon after completing High School, Leguizamo enrolled in NYU's Tisch School of Arts, only to later drop out and pursue a career in stand-up comedy. Later, he also took theater classes at the Long Island University C.W. Post Campus.
In 2003, Leguizamo got married to Justine Maurer, in a Catholic-Jewish ceremony on 28 June 2003. The couple has two children: Allegra Sky (born 1999), and Ryder Lee (Born 2000).
Leguizamo started his career as a stand-up comedian performing at several New York City nightclubs in 1984. He made his television debut with the show, Miami Vice, portraying a small role. He was later seen in movies such as Mixed Blood (1985), Casualties of War (1989), Die Hard 2 (1990), Regarding Henry (1991), Whispers in the Dark (1992), and Night Owl (1993). However, it was not until his role in the movie Super Mario Bros (1993) that Leguizamo received recognition in Hollywood. Although the movie was a commercial failure, Leguizamo's role as Luigi was highly praised by and went on to become one of his memorable comic roles.
After the success of Super Mario Bros, in the same year, Leguizamo appeared in another prominent role in the movie Carlito's Way. Leguizamo portrayed a serious character in the movie and was once again praised for his acting abilities. He went on to play side characters in several movies Romeo + Juliet
(1996) and Spawn (1997) and played a lead character in The Pest (1997).
In 2001, Leguizamo starred in the hit musical Moulin Rouge and for the promotion of the movie, he appeared on the show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. In the following year, he voiced the character of Sid the Sloth for the film Ice Age
(2002). Leguizamo went on to voice for the character in the next installments of the movie viz: Ice Age: Meltdown
(2006), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
(2009), Ice Age: Continental Drift
(2012), and Ice Age: Collision Course
In 2010, he was seen in Brad Anderson's Vanishing on the 7th Street
and also starred in the movie Chef
(2014) alongside Jon Favreau
. His 2016 releases include Ice Age: Collison Course
and Jekyll Island directed by Aram Rappaport.
Leguizamo created, starred, wrote, and produced the TV show House of Buggin, which was aired on Fox. He showcased his acting abilities by donning a wide variety of energetic characters, however, the show received poor ratings and was shelved before season one was completed. Many of the audiences cited the TV show to be the Latino version of the American sketch comedy TV series, In Living Color.
In 2005-2006 he was part of the popular medical drama ER, portraying the character of Dr. Victor Clemente. However, the character was taken off from the series towards the end of the season. Leguizamo later expressed: “I was depressed doing ER. I started gaining weight, I was eating donuts, I started smoking again. I’m eating McDonald's, things that I know when I’m depressed I do. I tried to kill myself internally”.
Further, he appeared in minor roles on Dora the Explorer (2005), and Edison (2006). Another of Leguizamo's TV series, The Kill Point (2007), which aired on Spike TV, received high ratings, however, the series was not renewed for the second season. He went on to star in The Electric Company (2010), and in the British BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses (2012).
In 2016, he was seen portraying the role of Ozzie in the popular Netflix original series, Bloodline: season 2.
In 1991, Leguizamo portrayed seven different characters in the Off-Broadway production, Mambo Mouth, which was written by him as well. The play was well received by the audience and Mambo Mouth won an Outer Critics Award and Obie Award. Leguizamo was also listed on the John Willis Screen Worlds Vol. 43 list of 12 "Promising New Actors of 1991". In 1993, he wrote and acted Spic-O-Rama, a play where he made fun of the stereotyping of Latinos in the United States. Leguizamo made his Broadway debut in 1998 with the production Freak, a one-person play. He won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show.
In 2010, Leguizamo opened his semi-autobiographical one-man theater show, Klass Klown, which also opened on Broadway in March 2011. The show received many positive reviews and continued to play at the Lyceum Theater until July 2011. Leguizamo went on to win Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Solo Performance and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance for his performance. In the same year, Leguizamo began the international tour of Klass Klown, which was renamed as Ghetto Klown.