Violent Night’s John Leguizamo Believes Hollywood Needs More Latin Heroes, Not A Steady Stream Of Latin Villains

Acting as the main antagonist in director Tommy Wirkola’s new movie release Violent Night, John Leguizamo’s Mr. Scrooge is a man of mystery. We really don’t know his name or what his deal is with ruining Christmas; we just know that he’s a pretty Grinchy guy who wants to walk away with a multi-million dollar score mentioned in Violent Night’s trailer.

Playing the bad guy isn’t something new to Leguizamo, but it’s also something he used as an opportunity to talk about how Hollywood still needs more Latin heroes in the mix. The subject came up during my interview with the versatile actor on behalf of the upcoming release of the Universal produced Violent Night

Asking him if he felt that having Latin villains was a step forward in representation, John Leguizamo shared these feelings on the matter with CinemaBlend:  

Let me try to put that in the proper filter, because unfortunately being a Latin man, I’ve always played villains, and I was up to here with the villain thing. But because we don’t have enough heroes. That’s the problem: we need more Latin heroes so we can enjoy our Latin villains. The best roles written in movies are always the villains. And I want to be able to play villains, but you’ve gotta give me my Latin heroes to counterbalance that.

As Leguizamo’s resume of iconic roles includes examples like Violator in the original Spawn movie, he can personally attest to how much fun a good baddie can be. Violent Night only continues that legacy, as the enigmatic Mr. Scrooge launches a full-on Die Hard-style assault on the wealthy Goodstone family. Playing a Latine spin on Hans Gruber, the man is as stylish as he is menacing.

With those caveats in play though, John Leguziamo is absolutely right in calling for more Latin heroes. Even in his enjoyment and celebration of antagonists being the best roles in movies, if you let enough time go by casting actors of color more often than not to fill them, it becomes a stereotype. 

Just as Super Mario Bros.’ directors fought to cast Leguizamo as Luigi, that same sort of energy is needed in the current climate of moviemaking. That’s exactly why John Leguizamo also spoke out about Chris Pratt’s casting in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, a move that he called “backwards” when it came to its very execution. 

It didn’t take long for our conversation to champion the strides that are being made in today’s Hollywood landscape. Moments after laying down the challenge to cast more heroes, John Leguizamo and I celebrated the fact that Tenoch Huerta was cast as the anti-heroic mutant Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The legendary comedian was especially happy with Huerta’s casting, when put into the following context:  

I was so looking forward to a real, Latin, indigenous looking person, instead of white passing Latinos like myself always in the roles.

Every good hero needs an equally compelling villain, and there’s plenty of room for actors like John Leguizamo, or any performer of color, to embody both sides of that coin. Pushing for more accurate representation on screen calls for actors of all sorts to color the spectrum of cinema with brighter and more complicated hues. So while it’s still fun to see Violent Night’s mysterious Mr. Scrooge take on David Harbour’s Santa, there’s still room to ask what other actors of color could also fit that sort of role in the future. 

Entertainment-wise, you can see John Leguizamo’s Mr. Scrooge go head to head with Santa Claus in Violent Night! The film is currently open in early showings, so you’ll need to head to a theater near you to check it out! 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.