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John Leguizamo’s ‘Fugly!’ Embarks on Hilarious Journey of Self-Reflection as His New Show Hits Comedy Circuit

First Posted: Nov 18, 2014 05:32 PM EST
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Actor-comedian John Leguizamo, who recently starred in Jon Favreau's "Chef" along with Sofia Vergara, has left audiences in stitches for decades while reflecting upon his life and humorous yet tough surroundings -- from "Mambo Mouth," "Spic-O-Rama," "Freak," to "Sexaholix ... a Love Story" and "Ghetto Klown."  

Now, he's at it again with "Fugly!" -- a film based on "a near-death experience that forces him to revisit his personal and professional highs and lows," or what he calls "career menopause!"

"Fugly!" -- also dubbed a new "anti-romantic comedy" -- is co-written by Leguizamo, who stars as a Jesse Sanchez, a Latino actor who wears many hats as a writer, producer, and stars in his one-man shows after a long run of being typecast as rapists, robbers, drug dealers and pimps in Hollywood films. (Oh, but we loved him as "Benny Blanco from the Bronx" in 1993's "Carlito's Way.")

"I play a rapist and I make $10,000 dollars cuz in Hollywood even rapists get residuals," says Leguizamo, who plays Jesse Sanchez jokes in "Fugly!"

The fictionalized interpretation of his acclaimed one-man show on Broadway, "Ghetto Klown," "Fugly!" also stars fellow New York Latina Rosie Perez, as well as Radha Mitchell, Griffin Dunne, Yul Vasquez, Tomas Milian and Ally Sheedy.

"Ghetto Klown," which is also becoming an animated novel, was nominated for "Best Sound Design of a Play" at the 2011 Tony Awards. It's a routine which recounts the comedian's childhood in New York City and eventual rise to fame, debuted on Broadway in 2011, after which the show was revamped for a national and international tour.

On the big screen, "Fugly!" pushes the envelope and infuses past, present, truth and fiction with Leguizamo's signature Latin spin to tell his journey, which began with a rough start, but ultimately ended up filled with fame, fortune and personal fulfillment.

How personal and intimate does Leguizamo truly get?

The landscape of Leguizamo's one-man shows had changed when the multi-faceted comedic actor did "Freak" because it was the first show that was directly autobiographical.

"The previous shows were more about people that I knew: 'Mambo Mouth' was about the people on my block, in a Studs Terkel kind of way. And then 'Spic-O-Rama' was loosely based on my family, very fictionalized," he explained to Vulture. "And then 'Freak' was my first autobiographical piece. I followed that up with 'Sexaholix: A Love Story.' And then 'Ghetto Klown' is kind of a portrait of a middle-aged man as an artist," he laughed.

Also a trailblazer for the arts in public schools as a member of the Coalition for the Arts, Leguizamo has thrived with his theatrical performances. So, will he continue performing in that format moving forward?

"'Ghetto Klown' is too expensive for me to do again. That was my favorite show I've ever done. I'm working on my new one, 'Latin History for Dummies,'" he also told Vulture. "I'm gonna do that routine in comedy clubs in Buffalo, Cleveland, Denver, San Francisco, then Maryland. Then I'm gonna take a break, then I'll look to do it at the Berkeley Rep Theater."

He is currently scripting and reworking the material for the aforementioned "Latin History for Dummies."

"It's a work in progress right now. I've workshopped my stuff for years now, everything including 'Spic-O-Rama,' 'Mambo Mouth,' 'Freak.' Comedy clubs in New York have allowed me to test that stuff out; people there have been very nurturing. I want this piece to be really accessible because my ultimate goal, after performing in colleges, is to do it in prisons and high schools. So it's gotta be really accessible because those people turn off to a lot of facts."

One of Leguizamo's next projects is "Stealing Cars," which he calls "such a beautiful piece, based on the real story of this middle-class white kid who fell through the cracks."

"Stealing Cars" stars Felicity Hoffman, William H. Macy, and Paul Sparks from "Boardwalk Empire."

The multi-faceted Colombian-born actor and comedian, who is of Colombian and Puerto Rican descent, has appeared in more than 50 films. His breakthrough performance was "Benny Blanco from the Bronx" in the 1993 film "Carlito's Way," followed by notable roles in "Romeo + Juliet" (1996) and "Moulin Rouge!" (2001).

He was also seen on Nickelodeon series "The Brothers Garcia," as well as on "ER" and "Miami Vice," and is an accomplished stage performer.

In addition to an Emmy and an ALMA Award, Leguizamo was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" (1995). In 1999, he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Music Program for "Freak" (1998) (TV Movie)

Leguizamo, who is also an accomplished author, currently resides in New York City with his wife and two children.

"Fugly!", an "anti-romantic comedy," was released on Nov. 7 at AMC Empire 25 in New York and will be available everywhere (iTunes/VOD) on Nov. 25, 2014. Click here to watch the official trailer for "Fugly!" 

On Friday, Nov. 21, Leguizamo is taking "Latin History for Dummies" on the road where he will perform at the Center for the Arts at the College of Staten Island, which is unfortunately already sold out, but stay tuned for more upcoming performances in your area!

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