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John Leguizamo says he was once fired from a movie for being Latino.
In a conversation with the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences new video series Seen, Leguizamo discussed his career, noting he "had to fight to get here and I've earned the scars and the wounds."
Leguizamo recounted one of his major struggles: being allegedly fired from a film by a director who told him they couldn't "have two Latin people in the movie."
"I was in a movie for a week," Leguizamo, who voices Bruno in Disney's Encanto, said. "And I got a call from the director going, 'Oh, John, I'm sorry, I can't have you in the movie. We cast this Latin actress and we can't have two Latin people in the movie because it becomes a Latin movie. You know what I mean, right?'"
Leguizamo told Entertainment Weekly through his representatives that the film he was referencing was 2006's Lonely Hearts, which starred Salma Hayek, Jared Leto and John Travolta.
The movie, based on a true story of Martha Beck and Ray Fernandez follows the couple on a murder spree. The character of Fernandez was played by Leto which, according to Leguizamo, had been his role before being let go.
EW reports Leguizamo was never cast in the film according to its sources, and that Leto had been cast in the role of Fernandez before Hayek was cast. EW's sources also note that Leguizamo claims his experience took place eight years ago, while Lonely Hearts was released 16 years ago.
Lonely Hearts director Todd Robinson told EW in a statement, "I respect John Leguizamo and admire his exceptional talent. It saddens me that someone might have qualified a casting decision in such a hurtful, thoughtless and unacceptable way. It certainly was not me. I wish John only continued success."
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In Seen, Leguizamo also touched on colorism within the Latino community as something "we have to fix."
He added, "there's colorism in Hollywood, too."
"I mean, I'd benefitted from being light-skinned and I stayed out of the sun so I could work," he said. "I definitely would not go in the sun for years. A lot of Latinos that made it so far, a lot of them were all light-skinned, you know? What happened to all the Afro-Latinos and the majority of Indigenous Latinos? They don't get a shot. So there's a lot of things we got to deal with in Hollywood, and we gotta fix them. We gotta speak out and we gotta speak up."
Leguizamo's career has been storied with standout roles in Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet, John Wick and most recently in Disney's Encanto.
In 2017, he debuted his play Latin History for Morons which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play the following year. Due to the play's success, Netflix released it as a comedy special in 2018.