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Kill Point: John Leguizamo

John Leguizamo on the Spike series, Kill Point.

Kill Point: John Leguizamo

The best bad guys are the ones you kind of like. Remember Ed Harris in The Rock? He was just trying to get recognition for America’s heroes, and he wasn’t really going to hurt the hostages. Well, the bank robbers in Spike TV’s new miniseries The Kill Point may not be that harmless, but they are a similar animal. Led by Wolf (John Leguizamo), these Iraq veterans are trying to get what’s due them. Only a hostage negotiator (Donnie Wahlberg) can stop them but it’s going to take eight hours of television to work it all out.

CraveOnline: Working with Wahlberg again after the straight-to-video Body Count, was it like no time had passed?

John Leguizamo: It was a little bit like that. It was like a reunion, a love fest. How long has it been? It was 10 years? No way, man. It was Donnie, it was Forest Whitaker, David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino, Ving Rhames. It was like the most ideal, incredible cast and then you saw what happened to it.

CraveOnline: So you hadn’t kept in touch?

John Leguizamo: It’s hard. You get friendly on the set and you feel like a bond and stuff but then your lives, he lives in another part, the wrong coast. LA, right? And I live in New York. It’s hard to keep [up]. He came back and here he is, this full fledged, well rounded actor. He wants to take this thing to the next level, like what you eventually do. You want to take the script to a better place, improve the characters, improve the whole story. He was working with the writers all the time, bothering them, because you’ve got to bother them. You gotta demand more from them otherwise you’re not going to get more.

CraveOnline: Did you guys read lines for each other when you’re on the phone in the movie?

John Leguizamo: We read a little bit. We met at the hotel and we read all our lines that we had together because we didn’t know if we were going to able to. We tried to do the phone thing, like be there on the cell phone. They call you wherever you’re at. That got tough because you get cut off and all of a sudden, it’s going great and then if you can’t get the guy. I fired the first guy. It wasn’t helping, it was hurting.

CraveOnline: Is this miniseries more like a film than doing a TV series?

John Leguizamo: It’s like eight films. That’s what it was like. It was like doing eight films in three and a half months or four months. It was brutal. There was so much stress going on. We were all flipping because in the hostage situation, what happens, it starts bleeding into our off camera lives. Even the extras were going crazy.

CraveOnline: Would you do a series again?

John Leguizamo: I like a miniseries. I do like it because it is like a movie. It’s a little more intense than a movie but it is finite, you know where you’re going and I’m just that kind of animal. I need to know what the parameters are so I can go crazy in those parameters. When it’s too open ended, it’s too confusing to me.

CraveOnline: But you knew ER was a limited run when you did that, right?

John Leguizamo: Yeah, I did 12 episodes and I love ER but I got a life. I gotta go. I wasn’t made for this beast. I was depressed doing ER. I started gaining weight, I was eating donuts, I started smoking again. I’m eating McDonalds, things that I know when I’m depressed I do. Try to I kill myself internally.

CraveOnline: Have you done anything to keep yourself up on this series, sleeping more, working out, eating better?

John Leguizamo: Like in this one, because I knew it was finite and it was building and building each episode, ER was a little looser because I guess they don’t really know what episode three is. So yeah, I can definitely work out and Frank Grillo was running a six-five minute mile and I was trying to do that. I almost died. I got to eight and a half minute mile. Everybody was working out, trying to stay in shape. Because it was long hours, man. It was tough. It was always antagonistic in the situation so we were all on edge. There was a lot of yelling. There was a lot of fighting. There was a lot of bickering. You couldn’t help it but we were all okay with it. It was a tense situation.

CraveOnline: Are we going to learn more about Wolf’s military past as the show goes on?

John Leguizamo: That was the great thing about it was that it was a slow reveal of character, a slow reveal of their past. You as the audience would be taken slowly through it, you had to wait it out. It wasn’t spoon fed quickly.

CraveOnline: How did you see your character?

John Leguizamo: I did see it, no joke, as an antihero. For our purposes, he works as the antagonist of the piece but I saw him, the way he was written, he was a hero. I did the usual thing. We went to Staton Island because he’s from Staten Island so he made us go over there. We went to a VA veterans’ [home] and hung out with them, veterans from Iraq and they’ve also been to Afghanistan. A lot of them had done a lot of tours and we spent a lot of time with these guys, had dinners with them, they cooked for us and everything and they shared their stories and their pain. That’s what hooked me into the show was how do we make these guys as real as possible and address this whole issue of vets coming back. Forget the robbery, forget the action stuff. That’s all there. It was like how do we make this as real as possible? All the PTSD, post traumatic stress syndrome, guys not getting their pensions, guys not getting their benefits and if you speak against the war, then everything’s taken away from them and they become ostracized from everybody. And if you go to therapy then you become weak. There was a lot of pain in there and I was hoping to put it into my character, Wolf, and the guys. The guys and I spent a lot of time together, more than I usually spend with a lot of actors. I don’t know if you’ve hung out with actors, it’s tough. It’s hard to get a word in edgewise. Everyone’s got too many stories but we spent a lot of time together, became a group, became a real platoon. They took us to the range, shot all the weapons we were going to use, we did a lot of combat drills.

CraveOnline: Should we sympathize with him?

John Leguizamo: These guys, they’re human beings, man. They’re not murderers and they’re not crooks. They’re just guys who came back and everything didn’t work out. Especially this war. This war seems to be different than all the other wars because they don’t know who the enemy is. They’re in constant attack, more soldiers surviving with more wounds because they’re really well protected and they’ve got great medical techniques now that save people that normally wouldn’t live. Go to Youtube and type Iraq Veterans, the stories you see and the people suffering. They are heroes for a reason. These guys risk everything. We’re never taken to that place in our lives, most of us aren’t. It’s amazing, they’re kids too. Their pensions were taken away from them and they’re hanging out and they’re drinking beers. They go, “You know what? Why don’t we do something exciting and let’s make a statement at the same time.” They robbed a bank and you talk yourself into robbing a bank, but they’re not here to hurt anybody. They’re not going in there to really take anybody down. It just happens in that situation, you never go in to rob a bank thinking it’s going to fail. I think you always think, “I got the way to do it.”

Kill Point starts this week on Spike TV.