New Zealand markets open in 7 hours 12 minutes
  • NZX 50

    12,118.67
    -93.29 (-0.76%)
     
  • NZD/USD

    0.6378
    +0.0070 (+1.10%)
     
  • ALL ORDS

    7,695.80
    -44.70 (-0.58%)
     
  • OIL

    77.89
    -0.58 (-0.74%)
     
  • GOLD

    1,893.20
    +2.50 (+0.13%)
     

John Leguizamo Calls Al Pacino Playing Puerto Rican in Carlito's Way 'Odd': 'A Thing of the Times'

John Leguizamo attends the premiere of Universal Pictures' "Violent Night" at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 29, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/GA/The Hollywood Reporter via Getty Images); Al Pacino attends a screening and Q&A for Amazon Prime Video's upcoming Original series "Hunters" at Curzon Soho on February 4, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Amazon Prime Video)
John Leguizamo attends the premiere of Universal Pictures' "Violent Night" at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 29, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/GA/The Hollywood Reporter via Getty Images); Al Pacino attends a screening and Q&A for Amazon Prime Video's upcoming Original series "Hunters" at Curzon Soho on February 4, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Amazon Prime Video)

Kevin Winter/Getty; David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty

John Leguizamo is getting real about his breakout film nearly 30 years later.

The Emmy Award winner, 62, described working alongside Al Pacino in 1993's Carlito's Way as "an odd experience" during an interview with Insider, as his costar was a white actor playing a Puerto Rican character.

"You know, it was a thing of the times. Before then he played a Cuban," Leguizamo said of Pacino's 1983 film Scarface. "Yeah, in that he's kind of doing like a Cuban/Mexican accent."

RELATED: John Leguizamo Admits to Staying Out of the Sun to Remain 'Light-Skinned' for Roles

In Carlito's Way, Pacino played ex-con Carlito Brigante, who intends to go straight after getting out of prison, but he gets caught up in the shady dealings of his friend Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn).

"I know he's trying and he's a great actor, so brilliant, he was my hero. But it was odd, man. It's an odd experience to be a Latin man in a Latin story written by a Latin man and the lead guy's a white guy pretending to be Puerto Rican. I'm not going to lie, it's surreal. It was surreal," he added.

CARLITO'S WAY, Al Pacino, John Leguizamo, 1993
CARLITO'S WAY, Al Pacino, John Leguizamo, 1993

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

Leguizamo said he "turned the part down a few times" of gangster Benny Blanco, which ended up being his breakout role, adding: "And then eventually I decided to do it."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"It's just Hollywood was weird and it's always been weird," he explained. "It has always been 'Holly-wouldn't.' And I knew this going in."

The To Wong Foo star has long been outspoken about representation in media, boycotting the 72nd Emmy Awards in 2020 over the lack of Latinx nominees and opening up about his experience navigating Hollywood as a person of color.

Most recently, he's called out the casting news of James Franco as Fidel Castro and Chris Pratt as Mario, after his colorblind casting as Italian video game character Luigi in 1993's Super Mario Bros., alongside the late Bob Hoskins as his brother Mario.

RELATED VIDEO: John Leguizamo Says That People Love That His Encanto Character is a "Sensitive Man"

Leguizamo previously spoke to PEOPLE about the struggles actors of color face in Hollywood as he made his directorial debut with Critical Thinking.

"I mean, we're less than 1% of the stories told by Hollywood and streaming media and networks when we're almost 20% of the population, 25% of the U.S. box office," Leguizamo said in 2020. "I just feel like it's such a damage to kids not to see themselves reflected back in positive ways."

Leguizamo can be seen in The Menu and Violent Night, both currently in theaters.