John Leguizamo says ‘neurotic’ Patrick Swayze was ‘difficult’ to work with

John Leguizamo has cast aspersions on Patrick Swayze’s reputation as an “angel” in the film industry.

The straight-shooting actor worked with Swayze on 1995 film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, in which they played drag queens alongside Wesley Snipes, and Leguizamo reflected on the “very important film” in a new interview.

When SiriusXM host Andy Cohen asked Leguizamo about working with the late Swayze, who died in 2009 of pancreatic cancer aged 57, the actor didn’t hold back.

In response to Cohen, who said, “All I hear about Patrick Swayze was just what an absolute angel he was,” Leguizamo told the host: “Hmm, that’s different than what I experienced.”

The actor claimed that Swayze worried about peoples’ perception of him, adding: “Rest in peace, I love him. He was just neurotic. And I’m neurotic too, but I don’t know, he was just – it was difficult working with him.”

Cohen tried to play down Leguizamo’s comments about Swayze, suggesting he was a perfectionist. However, Leguizamo doubled down, telling the host: “I don’t know – just neurotic, maybe a tiny bit insecure. And then Wesley [Snipes] and I, we vibed, ‘cause, you know, we’re people of colour, and we’ve got each other.”

Attempting to discern why he found Swayze a struggle to work with, Leguizamo said: “I’m also like 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 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.”

Leguizamo said he “rewrote the role” of Chi-Chi Rodriguez while filming took place.

Wesley Snipes, John Leguizamo and Patrick Swayze in ‘To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar’ (Universal Pictures)
Wesley Snipes, John Leguizamo and Patrick Swayze in ‘To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar’ (Universal Pictures)

Reflecting on the film’s legacy, he said: “It was very important because a lot of transgender kids, [LGBTQ+] kids come up to me, who are now I guess a little older, they said because of that show and my character, they felt confident to come out to their parents. And I felt like, ‘Wow, that’s what art’s supposed to do.’

“Art’s supposed to give people courage, art’s supposed to teach people empathy, that’s what I got in the business for.”

Leguizamo’s other credits include ER, When They See Us, John Wick and the Ice Age films.