How John Leguizamo got funny in the sci-fi action movie Gamer

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

John Leguizamo, who plays the character Freek in the upcoming sci-fi film Gamer, told SCI FI Wire that he provides the film's comic relief. Freek joins Kable (Gerard Butler) in a video game in which players control actual human beings in a battle to the death.

"I'm like a Renfield in the Dracula story, that crazy guy who's locked up in an insane asylum," Leguizamo said Monday in an exclusive phone interview while promoting Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. "I'm in there; I have all this information, and I'm in the prison. I'm in the game."

Butler handles most of the film's butt-kicking. "It's all Gerard," Leguizamo said. "There's a little weapon situation with me, but mostly I'm just kind of like a little comic relief. I mean, I hope I'm doing that."

A stand-up performer with one-man shows and a veteran of genre films, Leguizamo is an expert at voices and experienced with prosthetic makeup. But he didn't have to transform too much to play Freek. "You'll recognize me," he said. "There is more, like, that heroin look more than anything else."

Leguizamo signed on to the movie for the chance to work with directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank). "I had a great time," he said. "I just love the directors, man. I love Crank, and I love them. They said, 'Do you want to do this little fun thing?' I said, 'Yeah, absolutely. With you guys, anything.'"

Seeing Neveldine in action fulfilled Leguizamo's expectation of the filmmakers, Leguizamo added. "He will get on his roller blades, hold onto the car and hang on and shoot," he said. "That's how he'll do it, and that's how you get those crazy, amazing shots. They're wild. They're really inventive."

Gamer opens Sept. 4.