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‘Green Veil’ star John Leguizamo talks about playing Dark Character




'Green Veil' star John Leguizamo talks about playing Dark Character

John Leguizamo has portrayed a wide range of characters in his career, from comic book villains to Shakespearean legends and drag queens. Despite his versatility, fans have never seen him as dark and disturbing as in the new TV series ‘The Green Veil’.

His portrayal of 1950s FBI agent Gordon Rogers already had audiences in an uproar after the first four episodes of the new drama premiered on Variety‘s TV FYC Screening Series on April 26 in West Hollywood. After the screening, a fan revealed that it was difficult to watch Leguizamo’s character inflict trauma after trauma, asking how he managed to carry out the scripted atrocities.

“I don’t need people who like me in this role,” Leguizamo responded. “That’s not what I want. I want it to be understood, to understand how someone becomes so despicable and twisted.” This powerful performance set the stage for a thought-provoking conversation with co-stars Hani Furstenberg, Isabelle Poloner, John Ortiz and series creator Aram Rappaport. Variety Senior Awards Editor, Clayton Davis, moderated the panel.

The eight-episode series follows oppression in America in the 1950s through the story of Rogers, an immigrant who came to the US as a child and chased the American Dream, only to discover it was all a lie.

Rappaport brought Leguizamo into the project through his extensively researched script exploring the U.S. government’s nefarious plot to separate native children from their families to prevent them from inheriting land. The land was then handed over to oil companies or other corporate giants, wiping out generational wealth and gruesomely severing their family ties. Leguizamo added that he was immediately involved in the project when he learned that the practice continued from the 1950s into the 1980s.

“[Rappaport] created this character for me, this self-hating Latin man, because we Latin people are now an important intersection where we accept and embrace our being indigenous and our Afro-Latinidad, we are now starting to come to terms with that and loving it instead of to run from it, to hate ourselves, to despise ourselves. That was from colonial times, but we’re back in the 1950s, where this guy thinks that if he can pass as white, if he’s the best guy at his job, they’ll love him and accept him. And of course they don’t do that.”

Roger’s search for the dream proves destructive and difficult, not only to watch but also to act. “It’s really hard,” Leguizamo said. “You have to go to places that are very uncomfortable with yourself and you have to be willing to live with that for the entire duration of the shoot. And then I can let it go completely. If you really want to give it value, you have to be there and be willing to feel those terrible feelings.

“It’s kind of cruel, but you have to do it for the job,” he continued. “Then when you see the product you think, ‘Oh wow, that’s great.’ I mean, I don’t need people to like me in this role. That’s not what I want. I want it to be understood how someone becomes so despicable and twisted.”

Leguizamo also explained that Latinos are rarely present in certain period pieces, and he was happy to participate in creating a series featuring Latinos from the 1950s: “When I saw ‘Mad Men’ I liked it so much, but I hated it. so much because there wasn’t one Latin person. I’ll say, ‘Wait, New York in the 60s, are you kidding me? We were fucking everywhere. Haven’t you seen ‘West Side Story’? [In ‘The Green Veil’] in the 1950s we had the opportunity to have Latin American people in it. It was incredible to rewrite and do well that we were there. We have been here.”

Speaking about that erasure, Rappaport explained that despite Leguizamo’s long tenure in the entertainment industry and celebrated past (the actor has won Emmy and Tony awards), pitching the series was still difficult. “This project was something we’ve been working on, we’ve been pitching, but it’s impossible to get something like this greenlit or even finesse a pitch in the room,” Rappaport said. “We literally had to start a new network for this show to get on air and hopefully find the right audience.”

“The Green Veil” premieres April 30 and the first two episodes are now available to watch on The Network, a free streaming service created by Rappaport. Watch the full conversation above.