John Leguizamo Interview: ‘Waco’
“There’s always a lot more pressure,” John Leguizamo admits in our exclusive webcam interview (watch the video above) about playing a real person on screen. “You feel like you have to do a lot more research and get it right, but you also have to pay tribute to and respect yourself, because I don’t want to be doing an impersonation; there’s no fun in that for me. I like to find a happy half-way point between the real person and myself.” Leguizamo is nominated this year for his supporting role in “Waco,” 20 years after winning his first Emmy for the TV special “Freak.”
Leguizamo plays an undercover ATF agent in “Waco,” the Paramount Network limited series that dramatizes the tense and ultimately tragic 51-day standoff in 1993 between the FBI, the ATF and David Koresh‘s Branch Davidian religious sect trapped within their Waco, Texas compound. The series explores both sides of the story, while not shying away from some of the unfortunate decisions made by the main players in the standoff, which ultimately led to the deaths of 76 men, women and children.
“What’s incredible is that we all had our ideas about how it went down, but we didn’t know the details,” Leguizamo explains, noting how his involvement in the series changed some of his preconceived notions about the infamous Waco standoff. “We all thought it was [just a] cult, but we didn’t understand how [Koresh] was also trying to bring positive things into people’s lives, but at the same time there was a lot of corruption within the cult as cults become corrupt because absolute power absolutely corrupts and we didn’t know the side of the FBI and the ATF and the problems they were having and experiencing”
“They wanted to present all sides. That was really powerful,” the actor says about creators John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle. “I was trying to go in there not so prejudiced,” he adds. “To go in there from the audience’s point of view and just be innocent about it, and don’t come in with preconceived ideas … and be open.”