Colombian-born actor and comedian John Leguizamo has made a career proving that it is possible to be taken seriously both as a raunchy comic performer and a serious dramatic actor. Since 1991, when he won over audiences and critics with his one-man show, the off-Broadway Mambo Mouth, Leguizamo has been working steadily in film, television, and theater. Whether playing lowlife criminals, conflicted womanizers, or flamboyant drag queens, he has impressed viewers with his often sharply satirical characterizations of Latinos, making fun of stereotypes even as he blows them to smithereens.
Born in Bogota, Colombia, on July 22, 1964, Leguizamo immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of four. Deciding that he wanted to go into acting, he studied the craft at New York University and with the legendary Lee Strasberg for one day before Strasberg died. Of his teacher's unexpected departure, Leguizamo later quipped, "I have that effect on people." Leguizamo began his career as a standup comedian in various New York clubs, and debuted on television with a 1986 turn on Miami Vice. His film debut followed in 1989 with a small role in De Palma's Casualties of War.