He's donned loads of prosthetics (for Spawn), dressed in drag (To Wong Foo) and walked on his knees for weeks (Moulin Rouge), but method actor John Leguizamo says he's had enough of the challenging, bizarre parts that made him famous. Having just signed a seven-figure deal with CBS for a cop dramedy, the energetic chameleon says he's now ready to take it easy and spend time with wife Justine Maurer and their children, two-year-old Allegra Sky and 10-month-old Ryder Lee.
"I've always wanted incredible challenges and things that were as different from me as possible, but not any more," admits the versatile star, who plays a mentally-handicapped man who witnesses his mother's murder in King of the Jungle (in limited release Nov. 9). "No four-hour prosthetics. No more dresses, fat suits or midgets. I'm just going to be myself.
"When you do those demanding roles, you have to go to work all day long," he explains. "You just go home to sleep." He wasn't yet a father when he spent an entire summer visiting an adult home to research his troubled Jungle character. And co-star Rosie Perez reports that he remained in character 24/7 during the film's shooting.
Leguizamo adds that he won't write any more of his trademark one-man shows, like the autobiographical Mambo Mouth, Freak or his latest, Sexaholix... A Love Story, complaining that they are "too grueling on my voice." Plus, just last week, he tore a hamstring warming up for Sexaholix, postponing its Broadway opening by almost a month.
After starring in Fox's ill-fated sketch comedy House of Buggin'
and winning an Emmy for his HBO Freak
special, Leguizamo says he's going a different route for the CBS drama, slated for fall 2002: "It's going to be a police drama, but I'm going to have a sense of humor and be more of a rebel and a misfit, and that's where the humor's going to come from. I haven't seen a police show with characters that don't take themselves so seriously."