John Leguizamo Questions Al Pacino Cast as Latinos in ‘Carlito’s Way’ and ‘Scarface’: ‘It Was Odd’

“I know he’s trying and he’s a great actor, so brilliant,” Leguizamo said of the Italian-American icon playing Puerto Rican and Cuban characters

Al Pacino and John Leguizamo in "Carlito's Way"
Al Pacino and John Leguizamo in "Carlito's Way"

“Violent Night” villain John Leguizamo has a retroactive bone to pick with Italian-American Al Pacino being cast as Puerto Rican and Cuban characters in “Carlito’s Way” and “Scarface,” respectively, saying that despite his super star status, the decision by director Brian De Palma was “odd.”

Leguizamo, who costarred as Benny Blanco in “Carlito’s Way,” told Insider this week that Pacino was “kind of doing like a Cuban/Mexican accent. I know he’s trying and he’s a great actor, so brilliant, he was my hero.”

“But it was odd, man,” the actor added. “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. I turned the part down a few times and then eventually I decided to do it.”

The novel “Carlito’s Way” written by former New York State Supreme Court judge Edwin Torres, tells the story of career criminal Carlito Brigante, who vows to end his life on the wrong side of the law and spend the rest of years in retirement in paradise, a feat easier said than done.

David Koepp wrote the screenplay for the 1993 movie, which Leguizamo doubts would be even get a greenlight to be made today.

“Are they even making the movie?” he asked. “They might not make the movie because you have an all-Latin cast. That’s the problem. That’s why ‘Encanto’ is crazy because it was the number one movie in the world, what more proof do you need? I’m not seeing the greenlights of those projects. Greenlight the goddamn things.”

Leguizamo, who voiced fan favorite Bruno in the Oscar-winning animated movie, wrote an open letter in the L.A. Times on Nov. 1 about the lack of Latino representation in Hollywood.

“You had Al Pacino in tan makeup, coked up and wild as a Cuban in ‘Scarface.’ The studios loved it so much they put him in ‘Carlito’s Way’ as a Puerto Rican from Spanish Harlem. They surrounded him with Latino actors, but not one of us had a lead role. In our own stories, we were still just supporting players,” Leguizamo wrote.

“You can be as talented as Marlon Brando or Ingrid Bergman, you can write like William Shakespeare or Arthur Miller, you can have the screen presence of Ryan Gosling or Jennifer Lawrence. But if you look Latino, or if you have a Latino last name, the odds are against you in Hollywood.”