John Leguizamo says his one-man show "Ghetto Klown" takes its name from a comment Al Pacino (the "actor of all actors," Leguizamo calls him) made while the two were shooting "Carlito's Way" all those years ago.
"Take off the clown makeup and be yourself!" Pacino roared after a take. (Side note: Of all the Pacino imitations out there, Leguizamo's might be the best.)
Leguizamo's counter: He is a clown. That's his thing. And like Ol' Blue Eyes sang, they can't take that away, can they?
Leguizamo will be joining The Envelope for a live Web chat on Thursday at 3:15 p.m. PDT to talk about "Ghetto Klown," the celebrated autobiographical show that the 49-year-old actor has performed on Broadway, in theaters throughout the country and, most recently, as an HBO special.
"The goal was to create an opus magnum," Leguizamo told The Times in an interview when the show opened, "to go more raw, more honest, deeper and wilder than I'd ever done before. I tried to be as ruthless with myself in that as I could."
Leguizamo added that performing the show has been both "cathartic" and "a pain in the ass." "To have to relive it, I feel like ... what's the name of the guy who's chained to a rock and gets his liver eaten out every day? Prometheus? It keeps all these emotions really raw. And I go through moments when the whole thing depresses me. And then at other times, it's incredibly freeing. Because I'm done with all that. It's no longer a demon inside me, driving me."