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There are talented actors. There are great actors. And then there are geniuses. John Leguziamo is a genius.

From the moment he dances onto the stage of his new Broadway play, “Ghetto Klown,” which opened last night, Johnny Legz has an energy that makes you not want to take your eyes off of him. He owns the stage. He is a natural. He makes it look effortless. He makes you think he is one of your boys from around the way and he is the dude that is always making you laugh. 

In a theater that sits over a thousand people, John makes you the most important person in the spot. That is what makes him genius. His ability to connect to every single person in the room, as if you grew up together. He tells stories. And damn, can this man tell a story. Every word, every accent, every joke, every tear, he expresses with the utmost sincerity and authenticity. Dude is as real it gets. 

Like Biggie Smalls of the theater. A rap genius. He exposes some of the darker sides of his life, being kicked out of his house by his wife, depression, the trials and tribulations of Hollywood, his love of masturbation (well, we guess that’s not so dark). You get the point. 

He exposes a lot of his personal journey in “Ghetto Klown,” while still capturing the rich life of growing up in New York or as John calls it Manny-Hatty. This is a play that will make you appreciate theater for all of its greatest values.  If you’ve never been to the theater or don’t like the theater, we promise you that this is the joint to see. 

We know that times are tough and money is hard to come by these days, but figure out a way to see “Ghetto Klown.” Save your change, ask your friend for a loan, make your boss give you a raise, stand on line in Times Square and pray that they have half-price tickets on sale that day. Figure out a way. Any way. It’s that dope. Just make sure it’s legal.

We had the great fortune of speaking with Johnny Legz a few weeks ago while he was prepping for “Ghetto Klown.” Check out the amazing interview on the next page.

Photo credit: Joseph Marzullo/Wenn.com

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GG: So, tell us about the new show.

JL: Well, I’m trying to change up the one man show thing, as usual. I’m trying to bust out the new formula. Just like Albert Einstein did e=mc squared, I’m going to bust out the formula for career. And after I do this one man show, you’re going to see everybody doing a one man show about their career. You’re going to see Tom Cruise out there. You’re going to see Steven Segal because I’m going to break the formula.

This one, I want to be rawer than I ever have been. What I can do on film. That kind of that dark, crazy acting I’m going to bring it to my show. In this one, I tell all the god damn truths of stuff I would tell my therapist and my manager that I wouldn’t want anybody else to know. But, I’m sacrificing it for art because I want to do a masterful masterpiece. You know? My opus.

I’ve been touring around the country and I guess the sacrifice is worth it because people, especially youth, say ‘Oh man if you went through that s#*t, I was about to quit’–some people said, my painting, my singing, my writing. Whatever their career was, but ‘I got inspired by you and I’m going to continue to pursue my dream.’ That s#*t made me feel incredible.

GG: The show is called “Ghetto Klown,” what’s the difference between the ghetto of your childhood and the ghetto today?

JL: Wow, much harsher ghetto. I mean, the ghetto where I grew up, you know there was some kind of honor to it. When we had rumbles and I’ll bring you back to that word (laughs). They were scheduled dude, they were scheduled. There was like an organization and an honor code to it. We’re going to meet at a certain park, not the park where everyone hangs out and there are females and everybody’s just having a good time. No. We’re going to go to the empty park where nobody else, no civilians are going to get hurt. And everybody showed up, they put on their jeans jackets with their colors on it.

Colors, that’s another thing back in the day and they would go there with num-chucks, chains. Ok, some knives (laughs). The gun situation wasn’t really part of the play. Everybody was there to show off their manhood by how good they were with their fists and what not.

ABOVE: Fisher Stevens and John Leguizamo at the opening night of the Broadway premiere of ‘Ghetto Klown’ at the Lyceum Theatre.

Photo credit: Joseph Marzullo/Wenn.com

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GG: What is a childhood moment in Queens growing up you might regret?

JL: Oh wow. Well, I guess, I got beat up by this dude who clowned my girlfriend. I took him on and told him to meet me at the corner after school. I wouldn’t fight in school because I was that kind of guy.  I met him on the corner and we started fighting and I was beating the s#*t out of him.  And his buddy comes out of nowhere and kicks me in the balls. What? I was so dumb to have not brought my buddies with me.

GG: So, I know that the show is about your career, so speaking of career, can you talk about the most ridiculous audition you went on?

JL: Well you know, there have been plenty of those, man. I think early on, back in the day, when I was starting out. I auditioned for Hill Street Blues and then you show up all like in bandana all gang-banged out, drug dealer style.  And then you see Benicio Del Toro, Benjamin Bratt, Esai Morales. All dressed up the same like you. Everybody is trying to out-ghetto each other for some dumb ass part.

Then you see the same dudes the next day for the role for the janitor all dressed up like in coveralls, you know looking like, you know all of us with our Spanish accents and s#*t.  It was kind of ridiculous, but we took ourselves seriously (laughs).

Photo credit: Joseph Marzullo/Wenn.com

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GG: What is one role you think you should’ve gotten that you didn’t get?

JL: I should’ve got “Collateral.” Between me and Jamie Foxx, but the fourth audition killed me. I don’t know why I choked on the fourth audition. I had four call backs. It was between me and Jamie. Jamie must of killed it out of the ball park.

GG: Wow. And then what role did you get that maybe you shouldn’t have gotten?

JL: Yeah, there’s a lot of those too. I have to say, “Mario Brothers” was pretty funky.

GG: I know you’re married with two kids, but what’s your best Hollywood kiss?

JL: The Best Hollywood kiss that I had? Holy s#*t, I’ve had a lot of them. Oh s#*t…hmmm I get confused with my real world (laughs). Here we go; I have to say, I guess Mira Sorvino in “Summer of Sam.”

GG: Wow. That’s a good one.

JL: Yeah, Yeah. Oh, absolutely that was a good one.

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GG: Who makes you nervous when you work with them?

JL: Nobody really makes me nervous. I think I get nervous sometimes with incompetence (laughs). Yeah, that makes me more nervous than people who are mad talented. I just feel like I can do no wrong with them because they just make you look good.  But, when people are incompetent that makes me panic because just no matter what I do, she’s not going to rock.

GG: Let’s talk about New York City for a moment. Top three spots in New York City to get the dopest Spanish food?

JL: I have to say Sofrito on fifty something street, whatever that is. That place has the slammingest food. The other great Latin spot, I mean, this a mom and pop that I love, Macondo. No, Macondo is expensive. Macondo is the bomb, but it’s really mad expensive and it’s mad quality. And then, El Castillo de Jagua is like the mom and pop where all the cops go to get their Latin on.

Photo credit: Joseph Marzullo/Wenn.com

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GG: Speaking of Latin, Miami and New York; I know you’re a big Knicks fan and have a lot of fans in Miami. Thoughts on Lebron taking his talents to South Beach?

JL: Oh wow. I felt jilted (laughs). I felt like the bride at the wedding being left standing there with egg on her face, man. I was happy for you all, but we’re starting to have a good year. Hopefully, we’re going to get a good team here. I mean, (Amare) Stoudemire, I mean they did their thing. We’re getting there.

GG: I’m a diehard Knicks fan. Your top five Knicks of all time?

JL: Dude, I love Camby’s spirit, man. As thin as he was, he always brought it no matter what. Oakley. I love Oakley. Anthony Mason. Of course, Patrick Ewing because he just hung in there so long (laughs). You have to give it to him for endurance, man.

GG: We can go old like Walt Frazier?!

JL: Oh yeah Clyde, Clyde was the s#*t.

Photo credit: Joseph Marzullo/Wenn.com

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GG: Top five emcees of all time?

JL: Kool Moe Dee, A Tribe Called Quest, Das Efx, they still get to me. Fu-Schnickens, and Kanye.

GG: I know you’re going to put an album out with the show called “Songs from My Hood.” You’re on a deserted island. You have five albums. What are they?

JL: I’m mad eclectic so I have to take a little bit of everything. Let me see, man that’s going to be tough. I can cheat. There are some compilations that I can take with me. I know I used to have some serious like, old school compilations of all the hits from the 80’s, I’ll take one of those. All the hip hop of the 80’s, “East Meets West” I think it was called. I have to take some Nina Simone with me. Because I never heard an artist sing with that passion. I have to take a classical piece with me because that’s the only way I can write, with classical music. I have to take some Thelonious Monk. And I have to say Al Green, any Al Green album or “The Best of Al Green.”

GG: I know you’re half Puerto Rican and half Colombian. Colombian women or Puerto Rican women?

JL: (Laughs). Oh dude, what are you trying to get me in trouble? Yo, I mean, they both have different things to offer. I’m not going to choose. I can’t choose. It’s suicide. 

Photo credit: Joseph Marzullo/Wenn.com

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GG: Lastly, would love to get your thoughts on immigration reform?

JL: It’s very important, man. The people that are coming from Latin America, there’s none of them that are Terrorists. That’s such bologna by some very terrified people who are afraid of strangers. Immigrants are the lifeblood of this country, man. They’re the people who keep this country moving up and they create sort of, I don’t know, the energy of the country and they do all the jobs no American wants to do so we can all move up the food chain to what we want to be next to.

But, somebody has to come in and take that place and the immigrants serve that purpose. They pay taxes. They don’t get the services, but they pay taxes. Sometimes they get the services, but we’re all human beings. Why can’t we take care of each other? And if there was open door policy, most immigrants would want to be able to go back and forth.

Photo credit: Joseph Marzullo/Wenn.com

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