John Leguizamo Recounts ’Difficult’ Time Working With Patrick Swayze

Universal/Getty Images
Universal/Getty Images

John Leguizamo didn’t hold back criticisms of his To Wong Foo costar Patrick Swayze, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2009, when asked about their time working together on the 1995 dramedy film. In a new interview on SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live, Leguizamo said, “it was difficult working with” Swayze.

“Rest in peace, I love him,” Leguizamo started his remarks, before calling Swayze “neurotic and I think, maybe a tiny bit insecure.” In To Wong Foo, Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and Leguizamo starred as drag queens who travel across the country together until their car breaks down in a small town. Previous recollections from former costars of Swayze have been mostly positive, but Leguizamo said he had a “different experience” working with the star.

“Wesley and I, we vibed ‘cuz ya know, we’re people of color, we got each other,” Leguizamo continued, but Swayze didn’t like him for being an improviser, he said. “[Swayze] didn’t like that, he couldn’t keep up with it, and it would make him mad and upset sometimes.” In between takes, Leguizamo claimed Swayze would try and get him to do the lines as they were written. “He’d be like, ‘Are you gonna say a line like that?’” he continued, and “I go, ‘You know me, I’m gonna do me. I’m gonna just keep making up lines.’ He goes, ‘Well, can you just say the line the way it is?’ I go, ‘I can’t.’ And the director didn’t want me to.”

“I’m neurotic too,” Leguizamo said, and added that he and Swayze just approached the work differently. “I invent my role,” he continued, “I expanded that role, ’cause that role was nothing. Douglas Carter Beane may disagree, ’cause he wrote the script, but he knows what I brought to it. He knows. He’s incredible.”

Leguizamo went on to reflect on the film’s impact almost 30 years later. “[The movie] was very important because a lot of transgender kids, [LGBTQ+] kids come up to me, who are now I guess a little older, they said because of that show and my character, they felt confident to come out to their parents.” He concluded, “And I felt like, ‘Wow, that’s what art’s supposed to do.’”

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