The Batali Inquisition: John Leguizamo

The actor, comedian, and writer likes his coffee sweet and his food Latin (except when he’s in Austin)

When is your favorite time of day?

The “magic hour,” as I call it — in the morning after kids go to school and before my schedule takes over and my day begins. It’s a sweet spot where I can do anything. Just lie around and day dream, when I usually come up with my next show or listen to my favorite tunes and go to that safe place or I write and rewrite or I putz around. Love to putz around.

Where do you sleep best?

Easy one! In our country house upstate. No EMF (electromagnetic fields), no cell phone service, our internet is always down, no freaking lights from every appliance glowing like they had an evil plan. So I sleep deep.

What is the best way to recharge your batteries?

Hanging. That’s my go to. Just hanging with people I like, mad close friends, and just goof and talk about what really is on my mind. I love pontificating, and getting up on soapbox and having my friends shoot me down and vice a versa. My antidote to showbiz.

Leguizamo’s “selfie”

Where is your energy most successfully applied?

I’ve become a good leader and organizer of talent in my later years. I really got good at managing folks and I try to be a level-5 leader.

Where do you waste the most energy?

Rewriting bad ideas… I just can’t give up on them. I still believe they will work even if it’s been years and years of repeated failure I just can’t let go.

I’m like those guys in Latin America who work on an old ‘50s car day in and day out but all know it’s never gonna run but they still repaint it, tweak the motor. Love how they cling to the hope.

When are you most depleted?

After one of my one-man shows. I don’t know but it takes it all out of me. Physically, emotionally, psychically, vocally, comically… spiritually, performingly…. you name it it’s depleted.

What is the last thing you ate?

Mexican food. We finally have good food in NYC cause we finally have real Mexicans. Please all Mexicans keep coming — only you rock your food.

When are you hungry?

Dinner! I can go with very little breaky and a slim lunch but dinner I want to feel heavy and tired and full. I want to pass out after.

What was the last thing you cooked?

Coffee. I got good at making that Cuban coffee and I’ll use Bustello or El Pico or an authentic Colombian blend. I do it in that old-school silver hour-glassed shaped “apparatus” and just the right amount of real milk, none of that 2-percent crap from grass-fed free-thinking cows type of milk. I’m Latin so you know it’s gotta taste a little like dessert. So yes… two tablespoons sugar. It ain’t bouillabaisse but my coffee rocks, son.

If you were a food, what would you be?

Oh no, the James Lipton question. Et tu Batali? Oh alright. I don’t even like the idea of stranger people eating me or… no sorry can’t go there with you on that one. I’m bailing. Call me names. I don’t care. You can’t bully me into doing it.

Describe the perfect meal, what and where?

Thai Food in Austin, Texas of all places. Wow, green papaya salad, short ribs, sticky rice, kombucha soda. Wow! Killed me.

What is your favorite Olympic event?

What? Random. Is this your stream of conscious questions? Track. The running has my favorite things: speed and a time limit.

What was the last live performance you saw?

I saw Gary Clark Jr in Austin at SXSW Film Fest. This kid the truth! A whole new genre of blues, jazz, rock, and R&B… he is it, yo!

With which artist of all time do you most identify?

I got to say Richard Pryor. He did the comedy, he did the raw and uncensored and the flicks.

Who is your favorite literary character?

(Leopold) Bloom in Ulysses. I feel like him in NYC sometimes. Surrounded by some characters and just going about your day but life interferes and brings you some crazy experiences.

What is your favorite method of travel?

Bike. I love my bike. Frees me and makes me feel like a kid. I’m in control of my destiny until a taxi almost kills me and brings me back to the cold cruel reality of Manhattan traffic.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

Anywhere Latin America. Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. I always have an amazing adventure, and beautiful places, beautiful people, and slamming food.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

Austin, Texas. It’s the Brooklyn of the southwest. Cool, hip, arty but still small so you can walk down the street and talk to yourself and not be interrupted.

What food do you want served at your funeral?

Gotta be the food my boys and I munch on when we hang — chicharon de pollo, arroz blanco y habichuelas coloradas, aguacate and maduros. And some great Latin coffee.

It’s festive, it’s mom and pop and cheap. Don’t want to burden the living.

What is your favorite luxury?

Real estate. I love land. I have a few places and it makes me feel like the man.

Bonus question for bonus points: The food that reminds you of fam.

Click here to see John Leguizamo’s answer

An HBO favorite returns for his fifth solo special on the network when JOHN LEGUIZAMO’S GHETTO KLOWN debuts SATURDAY, MARCH 22 (10:00-11:45 p.m. ET/PT). Adapting his Drama Desk Award-winning one-man stage show, the special leads the audience on a hilarious and touching roller-coaster ride through the highs and lows of Leguizamo’s personal and professional life, featuring vivid accounts of the colorful characters that have populated his story.

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