The sun shines down hard onto the Kick-Ass 2 Comic-Con playground. Actor John Leguizamo mightily lifts a couch and moves it over for us to sit down on, under the shade. Event assistants rush over to offer aid, but John politely refuses while cracking jokes. Comedy is his super power. As a kid, John lived in a tough New York neighborhood and used humor to defuse relentless bullies. A franchise like Kick-Ass is right up his alley.
Leguizamo can’t help but laugh and ponder while he recounts the first time he saw Kick-Ass, “I didn’t know what the hell to expect. But it knocked me over, man, ‘cuz it was so… I mean it’s such an incredible, valuable story. The violence and the profanity, you just can’t believe it’s coming out of that little girl’s mouth. I loved it! It won me over.“ Known for his raw humor, honesty and profanity, Leguizamo now joins the cast of Kick-Ass 2 in the form of Javier, a new character addition to the Kick-Ass franchise. The highly anticipated sequel hits theatres August 16th, 2013.
Not knowing what character he would be playing, Leguizamo underwent extreme superhero enthusiasm on the phone call with director Jeff Wadlow. “I was like ‘No way, I can’t believe it – I’m gonna be a superhero!? Oh, yes, oh, my God!!’” He starts joking around and rattling off his superhero wish list: “I was like ‘I’ll shoot up steroids, I don’t care, man! I want a special power. I know what kind of costume I want.” We had to know what he envisioned! “I wanted to be capeless! And I wanted it to be, like, more flesh looking… like, you couldn’t really tell if it was flesh or costume. Kind of weird! But [Jeff] says, ‘No, you’re gonna be you.’ I was like, ‘Oh wow, really? That’s kinda boring…. You know, it ended up being really great because Chris and I sorta created this Batman/Alfred thing. You know?” A slight pause before he adds, “He’s the superstar, and I’m his bitch. And that’s okay.”
Christopher Mintz-Plasse reprises his role as Red Mist, but this time with a brand new NSFW moniker: The Motherfucker. “I’m supposed to try to tell him what to do,” Leguizamo says, “because I’m his surrogate dad. His parents are gone. I’m supposed to take care of him. But he doesn’t listen to me. He is a little pain-in-the-ass, little Motherfucker (laughing). I’m tryin’ to make a man outta him. I can’t let him go out there in the world and get his ass kicked. That doesn’t work, so now I gotta round up a whole set of villains to take care of him. And then I end up being the catalyst why he goes from Red Mist to Motherfucker.”
Leguizamo loves comics, subculture, and nerd culture. After all, in 1993, he played the iconic Luigi in Super Mario Bros. Although the movie was a failure at the box office, it doesn’t go without historical consideration that it was first live-action video game movie. Leguizamo gives a wry smile, a rare blend of folly and honor as he thinks back on the reception of Super Mario Bros. over its 20-year life span. “It was incredible before it came out (shakes his head), and it’s incredible now! Back then, not so much. But now, people… kids grew up with that. So we were like the iconic video game. The first ones.”
Video game movies and comic book movies are two different beasts. It’s refreshing to hear John’s humorous, yet poignant, perspective as he’s had experience in the adaptation of both genres. “It makes sense, it makes sense. I mean, comic book movies have a story arc, video games don’t. So you have to create a legend, which doesn’t exist… more than just a legend. It has to have the mechanics of the script. And it’s harder in a video game. Because, it doesn’t really have a ‘beginning’, a ‘middle’ and an ‘end’ that’s emotionally satisfying. I gotta say I’ve been in a couple book adaptations and I’m very intrigued by the process. It doesn’t always work. And I think part of the flaw is when you stay too loyal to the original material.”
He searches for the emphasis he wants to convey. “You really… you really gotta… you gotta stray from it, man. You gotta take creative license. Otherwise, it’s two different mediums and they serve two different audiences. And you have to not be so loyal. You really don’t.” Leguizamo also compares a book-to-movie adaptation he did in 2007, Love in the Time of Cholera, one of the great books of all time. “But you can’t just take what’s there. You can’t. You gotta make your own movie. Your movie’s gotta stand on its own.”
Nerdist heard that Leguizamo has a new television series coming out; Being fans of his legendary one-man shows, we wondered if his TV show will reflect a similar tone. He was more than surprised that anyone even knew about his TV deal. Although it’s all still on the hush, John dropped a little hint of what we can expect if everything goes according to plan. “I mean… I haven’t closed the deal yet. I’m meeting this week. We’re in talks. I already pitched it. They love the story and I can’t wait to close this week, hopefully. We’re really close. It’s not gonna be like my one man shows, but it’s definitely gonna have the tone of my own comedy, you know? Very dark, very edgy, very vulnerable, very sexual. Very awkward and flawed (laughs)!”
Those very reasons are why we’re glad to see Leguizamo cast in Kick-Ass 2: Dark, edgy, vulnerable, sexual, awkward, flawed. “Ya! I love this. Like Spawn. I love Spawn. That crazy, quirky little cult, sub-cult hit? This reminded me of Spawn a lot in that same ‘thinking outside of the box.’ These misfits, outcasts… you know, surviving in America. I love those stories.”
Although he may not be playing the fleshy, capeless superhero of his dreams, Leguizamo has already gained hero status in the eyes of millions. He loved his experience this year at Comic-Con. “I love walkin’ around and seeing the make up of the people. The fact that at least 60% of them are Latin, black and Asian… and they’re all nerds and comic book fans… that really, I dunno. That warms my heart. ‘Cuz sometimes you just think that, I dunno, that we don’t exist or we aren’t an audience. And you come here and you go, wow the majority of the audience is people of color, and then you go, ‘why not more superheroes of color to serve this underserved group’, you know? It makes me glad. It makes me want to create for these people.”
Kick-Ass 2 premieres August 16th, 2013.