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John Leguizamo talks ‘Violent Night,’ reveals one naughty thing he did this year, and more

The actor offered advice for Latinos pursuing their dreams

Violent Night is out in theaters everywhere, and it is a hilarious, bloody, must-see. Directed by Tommy Wirkola and starring David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Edi Patterson, Cam Gigandet, Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder, and Beverly D’Angelo, it’s a Christmas movie unlike any other. When a team of mercenaries breaks into a wealthy family compound on Christmas Eve, taking everyone inside hostage, the team isn’t prepared for a surprise combatant: Santa Claus. HOLA! Had the opportunity to talk to Leguizamo ahead of the film’s release where he talked about the film, revealed what put him on the naughty list this year, age advice to Latinos, and more.

How are you?

I’m doing great. Here in LA.

Oh, perfect. Me too. The sun is shining.

Yeah, it looks beautiful out there.

Yeah. Well, you’re in a room, but I’m sure you’ll be done soon.

Looks like I’m a hostage.

Those curtains are really interesting.

I know. They’re so, they’re so generic.

Yeah, it’s fine. All right, let’s jump into it. This story is so insane in the best way. The blood, the gore, everything. Take me back to when you read the script for the first time.

Well, I think a lot of what you’re saying is what I felt when I read the script. Cause I read a lot of scripts and a lot of them are garbage and there are very few that stand out. And this was one of the ones that I was like, wait a minute, what, what is- he’s gonna do what he did? No. And I was laughing out loud, it was a page-turner. I wanted to see what happened to this family and to my character at the end. And, the movie didn’t disappoint.

Yeah, it definitely was. Do you have a favorite memory on set that, looking back, you still kind of giggle about?

Oh yeah. I mean, when I was holding the family hostage cuz I’m doing a home invasion cuz that’s the type of guy I am. I mean, Edi Patterson and her ad-libs and everybody, we were all ad-libbing and making each other crack up, and then we would ruin takes. But the best was when Tommy Wirkola the director and video village would crack up out loud and ruin a take. That was the best I would say.

That’s awesome. Especially since it’s the director.

Yes. He can’t control himself. You know, you’re doing something right.

That’s awesome. And these are comedic characters, but there’s something very real about them. I mean, especially with how holidays can affect people.

I loved the movie from the get-go, being that it’s an anti-Christmas, Christmas movie, which is my favorite. Cause I don’t really like most Christmas movies, they’re a little too corny for me. But this one with the comedy, I mean, I think that was the beauty of it, was the comedy, it was so upfront, you know? And the action, even the action, even though it’s violent and gory, there’s a lot of humor in that as well. There are moments that you’re screaming and laughing at the same time. I think Tommy Wirkola’s a genius director in the way he was able to weave these disparate tones together of emotion and feeling. Cause I feel like the message does hit you hard at the end. That, you know, we gotta believe, you gotta believe in something. Whatever it is that you wanna believe, you gotta believe in something to get you through the day.

David Harbour and John Leguizamo©Universal

That’s true. And did you use to believe in Santa Claus when you were a kid? And if yes, when did you find out that he was fake?

Yeah, I believed till I was about seven years old. And my parents you know, my parents were immigrants, so they’d make me earn all my Christmas presents. And I had to read an encyclopedia and a book in Spanish, otherwise, I wouldn’t get my gift. And I did all that. So I asked for an organ, and there was this giant box underneath my parents‘ bed, like an electric organ. And I used to play “Hava Nagila Hava” when I figured it out, and “Silent Night” (laughs). And they would send me out to the store and I didn’t go cause I knew they were up to something. So I locked myself in the closet. And I heard them go, annd I burst the door open and I go, ’I caught you. I got you.‘ And they’re like, ’no, no, no. Santa brought it to us and asked us to put it underneath the tree.‘ Yeah, right.

That’s an epic way to find out. And what’s something that you, John did this year that would put you on the nice list and something that would put you on the naughty list?

What? I’m gonna turn myself in. Are you kidding me? What did I. I don’t even know what- what did do that was good? Hmm. Well, I bought my wife an incredible Christmas present that she hasn’t seen yet, like the best I’ve ever given her. And she’s such a great mom. And I guess, I don’t know. I have a little Schadenfreude and there are a couple of people that I, want to fail and do badly, and some of them did, and I feel great about that.

Let’s see, now I have four roles you played in the past. Tell me what list they would go on. Ready? Toulouse-Lautrec Moulin Rouge


Tybalt Romeo and Juliet


Pest from The Pest

Naughty... Good and Naughty

Sid from Ice Age

Oh, he’s all good.

So I know you tweeted about Irene Cara and how she was someone who made you believe Latinos can make it. And now you’re an icon in Hollywood. So what advice would you give us Latinos/Latinas/Latinxs, whatever, when it comes to chasing a similar dream?

Yes. I mean, your dreams are important to me, so I need you all to speak out, act out, keep writing letters, and complaining until we get parity, until we get proper representation. And don’t give up. Don’t listen to Hollywood. Don’t accept the rejection cuz- I mean, if I would’ve accepted Hollywood’s rejection of me, I would’ve never made it. But I knew that they weren’t for me. They didn’t represent me. Executives didn’t look like me, they didn’t care about my stories. They didn’t care about what I was about. And I made it against Hollywood. I made it on my own, you know, doing Broadway or off Broadway. And I found whatever venue would take me and that’s how I survived. So I want you to survive and I want you to fight for it and, and never accept it until we have parity.