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‘It Was Difficult Working With Him’

'It Was Difficult Working With Him'


  • John Leguizamo called Patrick Swayze “neurotic” while filming
    To Wong Foo
  • The movie, ahead of its time, had a positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community, inspiring many to come out.
  • Despite mixed critical reviews, the film was praised by audiences for its story and performances, becoming a cult classic.

Starring with Patrick Swayze in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar was “difficult” according to John Leguizamo. The comedy road movie, which also starred Wesley Snipes, was a moderate success at the box office on its release, and the story of drag queens had quite an impact on the gay community at the time of its release in 1995. However, in a recent interview on SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live, Leguizamo opened up about how “neurotic” Swayze was when it came to filming the movie and how he hated Leguizamo’s frequent ad-libbing.

To Wong Foo… stars Swayze, Snipes, and Leguizamo as three New York City drag queens who find themselves breaking down in a small town on the way to a national drag queen contest in Hollywood. Their subsequent interactions with the local residents end up providing much of the film’s comedy. The long and winding title of the film references an autographed photo of Julie Newmar, who famously played Catwoman in the 1960s Batman television series. The photo, which reads “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,” serves as a talisman and inspiration for the characters throughout their journey.

Speaking to Cohen about the movie, the host noted that the cast included the “angel” Swayze, which received a lukewarm response from Leguizamo. Pressed on the matter, he commented that it was “different than what I experienced.” The Super Mario Bros. actor elaborated:

I love him. He was just neurotic and I’m not, you know, I’m neurotic too, but I don’t know. He was just, it was difficult working with him.

Asked whether Swayze was a “perfectionist,” Leguizamo said:

“I don’t know. Just neurotic. I think maybe a tiny bit insecure and then Wesley and I had, we vibed because, you know, we’re people of color and you know, we got each other and I’m also an improviser and he didn’t like that. He couldn’t keep up with it and it would make him mad and upset sometimes. He’d be like, “Are you gonna say a line like that?” I’d go, “You know me. I’m gonna do me. I’m gonna just keep making up lines.” He goes, “Well, can you just say the line the way it is?” I go, “I can’t,” and the director didn’t want me to.”

To Wong Foo… is a movie that was in many ways ahead of its time, mainly for its focus on a section of society that was – and for many people continues to be – underrepresented on screen in any meaningful way. Alluding to this, Leguizamo shared the experiences he has had in the years since making the film, and how it has “helped” many young members of the LGBTQ+ community. He said:

Yes, but it was very important because a lot of transgender kids, LGBTQ+ kids, come up to me who are now, I guess, a little older, but they said because of that show and my character, they felt confident to come out to their parents and I felt like, “Wow, I’ve done, that’s what art’s supposed to do.” Art’s supposed to give people courage. Art is supposed to teach people empathy. That’s what art, that’s what I got in the business for.”



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As a cult classic, To Wong Foo… didn’t quite hit the mark with critics – it currently holds a mixed 48% Tomatometer score – but audiences mostly praised the film, both for its “before its time” story and the performance of its three lead stars. The popularity of the film in recent months has been notable thanks to a musical stage adaptation of the film debuting in late 2023 and continuing the legacy after three decades.

To Wong Foo…
is currently available to rent or buy from usual outlets.

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