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Spawn: Violator's Costume Made John Leguizamo Completely Miserable (& He Says It Was Worth It)

In an interview with GQ breaking down his iconic characters, the legendary John Leguizamo talked about all the hard work and dedication that went into playing the monstrous villain character Clown (aka The Violator) in "Spawn." He talked about how comic creator Todd MacFarlane brought new vulgarity and edginess to comic book characters in the late '80s leading to industry excitement for a "Spawn" film adaptation, "He [MacFarlane] revolutionized the whole comic book industry. ["Spawn"] was a big deal. It was the first black superhero, so everybody was excited by it."

Leguizamo revealed the extreme lengths he went through to play his character. He said that the makeup process of transforming into Clown took around eight hours initially, before the makeup crew whittled it down to about four hours. He said, "So I would get up at 3 A.M., start makeup at 4 A.M., be done by 8 A.M., and then go on set." The makeup removal process added another grueling hour and half. "It was old school techniques," the actor said.

Leguizamo had to remember to hydrate during filming because he would sweat so much they could wring out his clothes at the end of the day. He said there was no coolant in the costume, and he couldn't remove it for lunch or anything like that. That, in combination with the contacts and fake teeth, would make Leguizamo pretty uncomfortable, but he could channel that rage into his character. Leguizamo said of the costume, "It would make you lose your mind sometimes but it was worth the while because I was so miserable that it added to the character's edginess."

Spawn and Clown were the product of a very specific era in pop culture

The year was 1997. "Blade" was still a year from coming out, so the comic book movie industry was flailing. The '90s only had "Batman Returns" and "Batman Forever" as examples of financially successful adaptations. Just like when the comic book industry itself had become stagnant in the '80s, Hollywood looked to Todd MacFarlane. The man had helped usher comic books into a new decade and filmmakers sought his help with comic book movies.

MacFarlane's work was dirty, gritty, dark, and scary. It was a perfect fit for the new attitude in filmmaking that had come about in the late-'90s with the rise in popularity of pro-wrestling, "South Park," and nu-metal music in pop culture. His seminal work, "Spawn," a comic book about a slaughtered former trained killer who is enlisted to lead hell's army, was ripe for adaptation. New Line Cinema looked to change the game with 1997's hottest summer release.

While "Spawn" didn't set the box office on fire, and critics were unkind to the film, John Leguizamo's performance as Clown was often cited as the film's saving grace. Clown, a foul-mouthed minion of Malbolgia (the comic's stand-in for Satan) tasked with overseeing the titular anti-hero during his stay on Earth, is also a fan-favorite in the film adaptation. Mark A.Z. Dippé let Leguizamo ad-lib a lot of his one-liners in the film, according to the GQ interview, leading to the standout performance. Leguizamo added, "The edgier ad-libs are in the director's cut."