21 de noviembre de 2019
Hispanic World

John Leguizamo "Playing with Fire" for US Latino kids

By Alicia Civita

 Colombian actor John Leguizamo poses for a photo during an interview with EFE in Miami Beach, Florida, on Nov. 5, 2019, in which he discusses his new film

Colombian actor John Leguizamo poses for a photo during an interview with EFE in Miami Beach, Florida, on Nov. 5, 2019, in which he discusses his new film "Playing with Fire" and his activism in support of the Latino community. EFE-EPA/ Alicia Civita

By Alicia Civita

Miami, Nov 5 (efe-epa).- Colombian-American actor John Leguizamo threw himself into creating his role in his new film "Playing with Fire" so that the character would be as authentic as possible and as recognizable to Latino kids in the US as someone from their own family.

"How nice to see and recognize oneself on the screen!" the actor, producer, writer, filmmaker and businessman said - in an interview with EFE - in explaining that he asked the producers of the film, in which he shares the billing with wrestler-turned-actor John Cena, to let him create an authentic character.

"I told them that we could make a real 'wow' film, but they'd have to help me," recalled Leguizamo. "It was up to us to rewrite it, improvise and thus Rodrigo was born, a firefighting helicopter pilot who shows how a 'really macho guy' can be 'a really good mother.'"

In "Playing With Fire," which will hit theaters on Friday, his character is part of an elite firefighting squadron in California known as the "Smoke Jumpers," whose main mission is to rescue people who have become trapped during forest fires.

In the family comedy, which Leguizamo considers to be a type of tribute to the firemen who fight the fires that are breaking out with ever more fury in the far-western state, the firefighters rescue and end up adopting three mischievous children, who start turning their very orderly life into a real disaster.

"Rodrigo is really Latino. He dances, cooks, tosses out phrases in Spanish, speaks about his grandmother," said the 55-year-old actor. "He's someone that we Latinos can recognize."

He's also an ex-convict who in jail became a fanatical fan of the cartoon "My Little Pony," which is very popular among youngsters, something that charmed the actor who took on the role of educating Latinos about themselves.

"You can be macho and tender at the same time," he said.

For years, Leguizamo was an average actor, who was lucky enough to have constant work, but without really standing out. That changed in 1998, when he decided to transform his complicated family story into a theater monologue which he dubbed "Freak."

Since then, his career in theater, film and television has been on the rise, as well as his activism to help the Latino community. However, in recent years, he has begun to place emphasis on the future, and at the center of those efforts are children.

He says that his mission is to make Latino kids aware that they have "super powers" and that their life experiences can be very different from his own.

"I grew up in a very tough neighborhood in Queens, in New York. My family life was very hard," Leguizamo said. "My struggle in Hollywood was much more difficult than it should have been. I don't want other young people to go through the same thing if I can prevent it."

That is why he has raised the volume on his political activism, not only criticizing the policies and diatribes of President Donald Trump against Latinos, but emphasizing positive stories.

That is the idea behind his most successful theater work "Latin History for Morons" (2017), in which he put into a monologue everything that he had learned to give ideas to his son about how to defend himself against boys who were bullying him for being Hispanic.

He also decided to produce, star in and direct the film "Critical Thinking" about the Miami Jackson High School chess team in the South Florida city, after that school became the first educational institution in a poor urban area to win a prestigious national chess tournament.

"It's an incredible story. It captivated me," said Leguizamo, who plays Mario Martinez, the teacher who believed in the kids on the team and guided them to victory.

That film will be released in 2020, along with another inspirational film that gets him very emotional, namely "Harry Haft," the story of a Jew whom the Nazis selected to participate in the fights they organized for their own entertainment among the prisoners in the concentration camps.

"When he recovered his freedom he became a boxer and even went up against Rocky Marciano. I play his trainer," the actor said. "It's a beautiful film. I think it'll be nominated for a lot of Oscars."

Leguizamo said that his own version of the best possible film award are the faces of the public when he does his monologues, especially the most recent one, which he is still doing on tour, adding that it gets him "very emotional" to see grandparents, parents and children sitting in the audience.

Histórico de noticias
Google awards 25 research projects in Latin America

Bogota, Nov 19 (efe-epa).- A total of 25 projects in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru, including research into health issues such as skin cancer,...

White House officials astonished, concerned over Trump's request of Kyiv

By Alfonso Fernandez and Alex Segura

Brazilian prosecutors accuse former Paraguayan president of money laundering

Rio de Janeiro, Nov 19 (EFE).- Prosecutors in the Lava Jato (Car Wash) case this Tuesday accused former Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes (2013-2018), who...

Miami undertaking campaign to capture stray cats

By Alberto Domingo

California sues Juul, largest manufacturer of e-cigarettes

San Francisco, Nov 18 (efe-epa).- The state of California on Monday filed a lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc., the largest US manufacturer of e-cigarettes,...

US withdraws legal objection to Israeli settlements in West Bank

Washington, Nov 18 (efe-epa).- The US government on Monday altered its stance on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank by rejecting a 1978 State...

Deforestation in Amazon rainforest reaches highest level in a decade

Sao Paulo, Nov 18 (EFE).- The Amazon rainforest in Brazil lost 9,762 sq. kilometers (3,769 sq. miles) of its area between August 2018 and July 2019, the...

Trump gives Huawei another 90 days to do business with US firms

San Francisco, Nov 18 (efe-epa).- The US government announced on Monday a new 90-day extension to allow China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to continue...

Italian immigrant made his dream a reality in Uruguayan wine country

By Santiago Carbone

Lula accuses Bolsonaro of destroying Brazil, fomenting hatred

Recife, Brazil, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Sunday harshly criticized the government of President Jair...

Max Verstappen wins Brazil Grand Prix

Sao Paulo, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen, with the Red Bull team, on Sunday won the Brazilian Grand Prix, the next-to-last...

Maduro: De facto dollarization is economy's escape valve

Caracas, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that he does not disapprove of the de facto "dollarization" that one sector of his...

Apple removes vaping apps from App Store

San Francisco, Nov 15 (EFE).- Apple Inc announced Friday the removal of all apps related to electronic cigarettes from its mobile App Store amid concerns...

Hyundai to expand Alabama plant to turn out new pickup

Washington, Now 14 (efe-epa).- Hyundai will invest $410 million to expand its assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama, where it will turn out a new vehicle,...

Latin music figures join before Latin Grammys to fundraise for Parkinsons

Las Vegas, Nov 14 (efe-epa).- Figures from the Ibero-American music industry like Luis Fonsi and Ximena Sariñana gathered on the eve of the Latin Grammy...

Google to lay 620 mi. of marine cable to Panama, to be operational in 1 year

Panama City, Nov 14 (efe-epa).- Google announced on Thursday that it will lay a 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) stretch of undersea fiber-optic cable to Panama,...

Goya comes to Havana along with Spanish monarchs

Havana, Nov 14 (efe-epa).- One of Francisco de Goya's iconic self-portraits is coming to Havana along with Spain's King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, who on...

New Disney+ platform hits 10 mn subscribers in one day

New York, Nov 13 (efe-epa).- The new streaming platform Disney+ managed to garner 10 million subscribers in the single day since its Nov. 12 launching in...

Spanish royals visit site where Havana was founded 500 years ag

By Carlos Perez Gil

Trump's greatest interest in Ukraine was to investigate Biden, says diplomat

(Updates: Adds info on Taylor and Kent's testimony, Trump's remarks on hearings and other material)

Trump: Trade pact with China close, but more tariffs if no deal

New York, Nov 12 (efe-epa).- The United States and China are "close" to the first phase of an agreement to resolve their trade war, President Donald Trump...

Trump: Many Dreamers are not angels, but criminals

by Laura Barros

Uncertainty reigns in Bolivia after Morales flees to Mexico

Bangkok Desk, Nov 12 (efe-epa).- The crisis in Bolivia following the resignation of President Evo Morales after almost 14 years in office have divided the...

Bolivia crisis: Coup d'etat or power vacuum?

By Laura Núñez Marín