John Leguizamo says he based his character in The Menu on Steven Seagal

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John Leguizamo has been in demand as a film actor for three decades, with a list of film credits including 1993’s Carlito’s wayyears 1996 Romeo + Julietyears 1999 Summer of Samyears 2005 Land of the Dead2014 John WickIn recent years Encantoand the coming violent night (from Dec. 2).

So how did he get into the head of his character in the dark foodie comedy The menu? Leguizamo plays an action star trying to become a food show host in hopes of keeping his career alive.

“I met a lot of these stars that way, maybe before they washed up,” he says. “I mean, now they have washed up. I kind of based mine on Steven Seagal. I had a bad run-in with him. We made a movie together. It was Executive decision. He’s quite a horrible person.”

The menu

Searchlight photos John Leguizamo in ‘The Menu’

The menu stars Ralph Fiennes as a celebrity chef whipping up an increasingly terrifying night of food and danger for a dozen diners. In addition to Leguizamo’s action star, the guests include a couple played by Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult, and a restaurant critic played by Janet McTeer.

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“It looks like a foodie movie on the surface, but it’s a satire about privilege and entitlement and the boujeeness that can happen in America, people feeling like they’re special and nobody else is,” says Leguizamo. “It’s really a thriller, but with all those little easter eggs of beautiful food, great dialogue, really interesting characters.”

Leguizamo was drawn to the project by the script, written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, which the actor describes as “so outrageous, so out there, these food descriptions and the beautiful language, and yet terrible things happen to these people. I’m going , this is a beautiful arthouse movie, the thing that I’ve come to do in the business, really interesting movies that push the boundaries, that aren’t the status quo, that aren’t just reruns and remakes of things that we’ve already seen a million times.”

The menu

The menu

Searchlight photos

On this occasion, Leguizamo had no issues with his co-stars and would like to praise Aimee Carrero, who plays his character’s assistant.

“She was great,” he says. “I auditioned three girls to be my assistant, very different. I’m not going to name the other talent, but Aimee won because she could improvise, she could be real and she could be funny, all these different ingredients that are really hard. to juggle, but she could do it. So we went tit-for-tat, improvising, and she was so much fun to work with.”

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Leguizamo also enjoyed working with the film’s director, Mark Mylod, who is best known for his work on Succession.

“He’ll give you these perfect little tones that fine-tune your performance to give him what he needs,” says the actor. “Yes, it was a great experience. That’s why I think Succession is such a great success and such a great piece of work, thanks to him.”

Leguizamo reveals that he would love to appear on the HBO show.

“There are many Latin American billionaires, come on, come on!” he says.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times published an open letter from Leguizamo protesting the lack of Latino representation in movies and on TV.

“You can be as talented as Marlon Brando or Ingrid Bergman, you can write as William Shakespeare or Arthur Miller, you can appear on screen as Ryan Gosling or Jennifer Lawrence,” the actor wrote. “But if you look Latino, or if you have a Latino last name, chances are you’re in Hollywood.”

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Leguizamo says that many of these colleagues have received a “nice” response to the letter.

“Many white actors and black actors have been my allies, texting me, emailing me, calling me to say they were proud of me for speaking out,” he says. “What I was trying to do in this letter was make sure I didn’t leave any excuses for Hollywood to continue its aggressive exclusion of Hispanic people. We are 20 percent of the population, 30 percent of the US box office. Why do white people be over-represented in film and storytelling? It’s just not fair, there’s no parity. It’s not okay.”

The menu now playing in cinemas. Watch the trailer of the movie below.

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