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The Conversation

John Leguizamo and Fisher Stevens—star and director of the new one-man show Ghetto Klown—prove it is possible to know too much about someone.

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Fisher Stevens (left) and John Leguizamo (right).  

They became friends during a 1987 Public Theater production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and went on to commiserate over bad movie roles and cheer each other’s side careers—for Stevens, producing documentaries like 2009’s Oscar-winning The Cove; for Leguizamo, chameleonic one-man shows about his New York upbringing (Freak, Sexaholix … A Love Story, et al.). Now Stevens is directing Ghetto Klown, Leguizamo’s darkest show yet.

John toured with a lot of this material before you got involved, Fisher. What did you change?
F.S.: There was an element of venting and rage, particularly about acting in movies, and we’ve pushed through that. But we’ve kept the rage when we need it.
J.L.: As opposed to being incredibly angry all over the place.

You kept an account of Steven Seagal threatening you, a shouting match with Patrick Swayze in drag, smoking pot with Kurt Russell.
J.L. Well, I probably won’t be in a movie I was supposed to do with Kurt.

There’s a bit about your father threatening to sue you over Freak. Are your parents still upset about being publicly mocked?
J.L.: They’re still not cool with it. My father would never come see this. Itold my mom, “Look, you come out better than you ever have.” She said, “Why you do this?” I’m like, “I got to.”
F.S.: He just added a line [calling her a] “disco puta.” Amazing stuff!

Fisher, you played an Indian scientist in Short Circuit—though you’re Jewish—and John, in the show, you go into the Latin gangsters you’ve played. But in a way your lack of success in movies is a blessing—you’ve both found better careers.
J.L.:Wow, that was a backhanded compliment—without a compliment! I’ve done those crazy movies, got paid crazy money—completely empty and hollow. That’s when I went to write Freak.
F.S.: Yeah, I was on a TV series making insane money [Early Edition], and I quit. I was fortunate to get out. But to do work like Ghetto Klown, maybe we have to do a shitty movie.
J.L.: Avatar 3, playing the third schmuck with the lance.

You were on the road for more than a year developing this show, and you often roomed together. What have you learned about each other?
F.S.: He’s obsessive with everything—the caffeine count gets monitored, the calorie count, turning the Internet off before bed so there’s no rays.
J.L.: EMFs, I don’t like EMFs going through my body.

You could wear a little foil hat to bed.
J.L.: No, that’s like a lightning rod. Are you trying to kill me? Thing is, I can’t do anything in moderation, so I have to totally block myself out.

You guys see the same therapist and voice coach. What else do you share? John’s wife?
J.L.: Shut the fuck up! I don’t play that shit, I’m a Latin man.
F.S.: No, I value my life.


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