With Andor, Diego Luna finally steps into the spotlight

Diego Luna is a star, or at least he should be. The 42-year-old Mexican is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable Latin talents, an ever-reliable working actor who delivers good and often great performances when given the chance. Luna has been in Hollywood for almost twenty years, mostly playing supporting roles, and finally stepping into the franchise spotlight with Tony Gilroy’s slow-burning space adventure. Andorthe latest entry in the ever-expanding Star Wars universe. Andorwhere he is also an executive producer, gives Luna his first starring role since Netflix Narcos and represents his first chance to lead a major franchise since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Notice for Andor were positive, with critics praising its slow pace and declaring it a breath of fresh air amid the increasingly formulaic projects the Star Wars/Disney machine continues to churning out each year. On a more personal level, Andor represents Luna’s chance to step in and prove he can carry a big-name IP address on his back. Easier said than done, especially with a property like Star Wars, infamous for wrecking many actors’ rising careers and having one of the most divided and openly divisive fanbases. But Hollywood is at a pivotal moment for inclusivity and support for Latino talent. And with Andor already renewed for a second season and cheered by critics and audiences, Luna has the chance to enter the next stage of her career. In his case, it really is now or never.

From Mexico with love

Two young men and a woman stand together against a desert backdrop in the 2001 film Y Tu Mamá También.

Born in Toluca, Diego Luna has the arts in his veins. His father, Alejandro Luna, is a stage, film and opera set designer who encouraged his son to love and appreciate the arts, which eventually led him to pursue a career in acting. Like her compatriots Salma Hayek, Eiza González and her longtime best friend, Gael García Bernal, Luna got her start on the small screen. Telenovelas are the best way for Mexican talent to make a name for themselves, giving them enough acting experience to prepare them for the transition to Hollywood and attaching them to Mexican audiences.

Luna’s effortless, naturalistic charm was on full display from the start; he often played fiery, relatable young men surrounded by chaotic circumstances. Never has its childlike charm been so clear as in Alfonso Cuarón’s 2001 road movie And your mother too, which catapulted him and co-star Gael García Bernal to international prominence. As Tenoch, Luna was a precocious talent who refused to be ignored. A coming-of-age story against the backdrop of a pivotal period in Mexican politics, And your mother too changed the game for Latin talent on the international stage. Not only did he make stars of Cuarón, Luna, and García Bernal, he redefined the reach and influence of Mexican cinema, igniting a movement that put Latin storytelling on an upward path.

By being at the center of the film that started it all, Luna and Bernal became unwitting but willing leaders of the movement. Their careers largely existed in parallel to each other, each taking a distinct and ultimately successful approach; while Luna preferred supporting roles in Hollywood productions as important as Frida, The terminal, Milk, and ElysiumBernal focused on provocative and “bold”, often experimental projects that put him front and center, such as The Crime of Padre Amaro, Bad Educationand The science of sleep.

The result, however, was the same, as Luna and García Bernal held the title of “most recognizable Mexican actors” in Hollywood for years – they still do, in fact. Well aware of their impact and the place their real-life friendship had in the cultural lexicon, Luna and Bernal co-starred in numerous films, though none were as influential as And your mother too. Above all, the duo paved the way for future Latino talent in Hollywood by redefining the standards of who a leading man could be.


Banner for the Narcos México show showing Diego Luna and Michael Peña.

It might be easy to dismiss Luna’s influence in Hollywood — after all, he lacks the Oscar nomination that would turn him into a “prestige” actor or the major commercial success that would make him a box office draw. However, Luna’s career has something far more important: consistency. The actor has been working for over twenty years, never failing to impress even in the smallest and most thankless roles. The longevity of her career is a testament not only to her talent and resilience, but also to her influence and impact on an industry that actively locks in Latino talent and encourages them to stay in their lane.

But Luna has never stuck to one path, pursuing different venues including producing and directing, exploring different genres like sci-fi and romantic comedy, and doing his best to innovate for those who come after him. . Luna played the obligatory roles for a Latin American actor — mostly drug dealers and illegal immigrants — but he never indulged in their harmful tropes and conventions. There is a dignity to his performances, a willingness to reject audience expectations. Luna favors nuance and subtlety; even in Narcos‘ the most brutal scenes, there is a sweetness in his choices that makes it all the more compelling.

You could fault Luna for indulging in the Hollywood idea of ​​Latino actors. One could also reproach him for “glorifying” violence in a country that already suffers too much. But there’s no point in complaining, especially when Luna was very open about the physical and emotional difficulties of playing such a character. Actors act, and if we were to avoid everyone who plays objectionable characters, there would be no more actors to look up to. The fact remains that Luna has been at the forefront of Latino advancement in Hollywood for years now, and her contributions are often overlooked. drug lords mexico gave him more exposure than any of his other projects in the 2010s, with the obvious exception of A thug.

We’re at a pivotal time for representation in Hollywood, and Latino talent is pushing the boundaries of casting. by Luna Narcos co-star Tenoch Huerta will cause a stir as Namor, the submariner, in Ryan Coogler Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And his best friend, Gael García Bernal, will make his MCU debut with the night werewolf Disney+ Halloween Special, an ode to creatures and B-movie horror from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Salma Hayek, Oscar Isaac and Pedro Pascal continue to strive to increase Latino exposure in Hollywood, finally entering big-budget blockbuster territory that has been closed to them for years. With AndorLuna joins them on the front lines, but let’s not pretend he hasn’t fought this war in decades now.

The rebel at the right time

Diego Luna walking through a factory-like space in Andor.

star wars is in a weird place. The much-maligned prequels divided the fandom, and things only got worse once the sequels arrived. You could blame Disney – their factory-like approach to “content” is certainly responsible for some of the franchise’s problems – but there’s also an argument to be made that the star wars the universe was stretched too far, too fast. The galaxy far, far away is certainly an engrossing and fascinating universe, but does that mean audiences want to spend unlimited time there?

Andor has been both praised and criticized for marking a drastic departure from the Easter egg, with the fanservice-dominated landscape permeating the latest star wars projects. Tony Gilroy’s vigorous, grounded, almost naturalistic approach to the franchise feels like a breath of fresh air amid the murky and largely seamless styles of previous releases. star wars entries. But there is a distinctive lack of “action” in Andor, especially given its slow approach to storytelling. Gilroy is more concerned with the human side of “wars”, favoring political intrigue and intrigue over action settings and Jedi fanfare. And while Andor is far from Succession in space, it’s much more narratively complex than something like Boba Fett.

Yet that is its appeal. Andor can revitalize star wars and make it feel timely and meaningful again, and Luna is front and center, taking on perhaps the biggest challenge of her career. It’s not a question of whether he can do it – rest assured, he can – but rather whether he will be allowed to do it or if he will fall prey to it. star wars machine. After all, it was the franchise that hid Pedro Pascal behind a helmet, wasted Ewan McGregor, and reduced Temuera Morrison to an afterthought on what was supposed to be his show. No IP chews and spits actors like star wars Is. But Luna faced and overcame tougher challenges; aided by Tony Gilroy’s vision and a story that lends itself to a decidedly humanistic approach, his time in the spotlight could provide him with a worthy showcase of his talents.

It’s been a long road for Luna, but he’s remained relevant and cohesive, defying convention and even expectation. It can be overkill and downright insulting to call Andor his reward, but it is certainly a recognition of the place he has made in Hollywood. If anything, beyond what Andor achieves for its struggling franchise, the show should have a lasting effect on Luna’s long-term career. If that’s his equivalent of “one for them, one for me,” then we’ll be paying close attention to see what this fascinating and versatile actor does next. Maybe something with the Gilroys? A spiritual sequel to Somnambulist never looked more appealing.

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