John Leguizamo explains his humble beginnings in theater, and inspiring Lin-Manuel Miranda

GMA After Hours(NEW YORK) — In a recent profile in Vanity Fair, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the guy behind the Tony, Grammy, and Emmy-winning phenomenon Hamilton, said it wouldn’t have existed without John Leguizamo.

Leguizamo, star of movies like Carlito’s Way and the blockbuster Ice Age movies, knocked down walls for Latinos on Broadway with his one-man shows. 

“I feel like my work was justified,” Leguizamo told ABC Radio’s Good Morning America After Hours of Lin-Manuel’s praise. “I wasn’t even in the theater with [his debut] Mambo Mouth. I was in a hallway, with 70 fold-up chairs…and all of a sudden, there was Al Pacino, Arthur Miller, Sam Sheppard, Raul Julia…” 

Mambo Mouth led to an award-winning Broadway career for the motor-mouthed actor.

Leguizamo called Hamilton “sheer masterpiece,” noting, “If he would have pitched that to Hollywood…it never would have happened. ‘Wait a minute…black and Latino actors playing the founding [fathers]? No. No. They didn’t speak in rap in the 1700s!'”

On his new show, Leguizamo said he sought to explore the unheralded history of Latin people, in part because his son, who’s Jewish and Puerto Rican, was being bulled at school. “He got picked on!” said Leguizamo. “And they would call him ‘Mexican…’ …So I started really…learning about our contributions to America alone.”

“Latin people…We have fought in every single war that made this country, and our contributions are nowhere listed,” Leguizamo said. 

Leguizamo’s latest venture, Latin History for Morons, will run until April 28 at New York City’s Public Theatre.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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