John Leguizamo says Al Pacino playing a Puerto Rican in Carlito’s Way was ‘odd’ to witness

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John Leguizamo has shared his honest thoughts on Al Pacino playing a Puerto Rican in Carlito’s Way.

The Latin actor appeared opposite the white American star in Brian De Palma’s 1993 film, which follows an ex-con who tries to lead a crime-free life after leaving prison.

“You know, it was a thing of the times – before then he played a Cuban,” Leguizamo said, referencing Pacino’s earlier role in De Palma’s 1983 film Scarface.

“Yeah, in that he’s kind of doing like a Cuban/Mexican accent,” he told Insider. “I know he’s trying, and he’s a great actor, so brilliant – he was my hero – but it was odd, man.”

Leguizamo elaborated: “It’s an odd experience to be a Latin man in a Latin story written by a Latin man and the lead guy’s a white guy pretending to be Puerto Rican. I’m not going to lie, it’s surreal. It was surreal.”

The role of gangster Benny Blanco in Carlito’s Way was Leguizamo’s breakout. However, he said that he “turned the part down a few times” before “eventually” deciding to do it.

“It’s just Hollywood was weird and it’s always been weird,” he said, adding: “It has always been ‘Holly-wouldn’t.’ And I knew this going in.”

Leguizamo has long been vocal about Hollywood’s discrimination of Latin actors, and, in 2022, criticised the casting of James Franco in a film about Fidel Castro.

Last month, he also called out the decision to appoint Chris Pratt and Charlie Day as the voice of Mario and Luigi in a new Super Mario Bros animation.

John Leguizamo said Al Pacino playing a Puerto Rican man in ‘Carlito’s Way’ was ‘odd’ (Getty Images)
John Leguizamo said Al Pacino playing a Puerto Rican man in ‘Carlito’s Way’ was ‘odd’ (Getty Images)

Leguizamo, who voiced Luigi in a live-action version of the film in 1993, called the casting “backwards”.

The actor recently said that he based his character in horror satire The Menu on Steven Seagal, whom he called a “horrible person”.

Leguizamo can currently be seen in both The Menu and Christmas horror film Violent Night.