John Leguizamo opened up about his time filming To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and the co-star he had tension with. 

In 1995, LGBTQIA+ movie enthusiasts were first introduced to the legendary American road trip comedy. 

Directed by Beeban Kidron, the film follows three New York City drag queens – Vida (Patrick Swayze), Noxeema (Wesley Snipes) and Chi-Chi (Leguizamo) – as they embark on a road trip to compete in the “Miss Drag Queen of America Pageant” in Hollywood.

However, halfway through the cross country journey, their car breaks down, leaving them stranded in the small town of Syndersville. As they wait for their vehicle to be fixed, the trio use their drag talents to positively change the lives of the quirky townsfolk. 

In a recent interview on Andy Cohen’s SiriusXM show, Radio Andy, Leguizamo opened up about the groundbreaking film and its legacy. 

“[The film] was very important because a lot of transgender kids, [LGBTQIA+] kids come up to me, who are now I guess a little older, they said because of that [movie] and my character, they felt confident to come out to their parents,” he revealed. “And I felt like, ‘Wow, that’s what art’s supposed to do.'” 

In addition to discussing the movie’s unforgettable impact, the Ice Age star opened up about his behind-the-scenes tension with the late Swayze. 

“Rest in peace, I love him. [Swayze] was neurotic, and I’m not… you know, I’m neurotic too but, I don’t know. It was just difficult working with him. Just neurotic, I think, maybe a tiny bit insecure,” he said. 

Leguizamo then claimed that the Dirty Dancing star didn’t like his improvisation, adding that he “couldn’t keep up” with it. 

“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 continued. 

“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… It would make [Swayze] mad and upset sometimes.” 

While his experience with Swayze was far from smooth, the Romeo + Juliet star had nothing but good things to say about his other co-star, Snipes.

“Wesley and I, we vibed because, you know, we’re people of color and we got each other,” he said. 

Despite its measly 41% approval rating, To Wong Foo has earned cult classic status due to its campy elements, the cast’s chemistry and its groundbreaking depictions of drag in mainstream media (at the time). 

Swayze and Leguizamo also earned respective Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. 

Watch the trailer for To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar here or below.