Why ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Star Diego Luna Had to Be Convinced to Play Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo On-Screen

In the first two seasons of Narcos: Mexico, actor Diego Luna played a prominent drug trafficker named Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. Although fans couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Gallardo in the crime drama, the 41-year old actor initially didn’t want to play the notorious drug lord on the Netflix series. Here’s why the Narcos: Mexico creators had to convince Luna to take on the role.

Who is Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo?

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In the crime drama, Diego Luna played Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, a notorious Mexican drug lord. The kingpin, who obtained the nickname “El Jefe de Jefes (The Boss of Bosses) and “El Padrino (The Godfather), was one of the founders of the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1970s. During the 1980s, the cartel controlled the drug trafficking business in Mexico and the Mexico and United States border.

In 1989, Gallardo was arrested for the murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. Since then, Gallardo has been serving a 40-year prison sentence at the Altiplano maximum-security prison. But, he was transferred to a medium-security prison in 2014 because of his poor health. 

Why didn’t Diego Luna want to play Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo?

Diego Luna dressed in a black suit in 'Narcos: Mexico' Season 2.
Diego Luna | Netflix

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Initially, the actor didn’t want to play the drug lord at all. But, Narcos: Mexico showrunner Eric Newman convinced him to take on the role. In an interview with The New York Times, Luna explained how Newman persuaded him to play Gallardo on-screen. Newman told the actor Gallardo was not a “simple black hat,” but the “symptom of a larger disease.” Although Luna didn’t explain the reason behind his decision, it is a possibility he didn’t want to portray such a villainous real-life figure on-screen.

In turn, Luna saw this as an opportunity to help non-Mexican residents understand the full extent of the drug trade. “One of the reasons I decided to play Gallardo as I did was how little information you can find about his personal life,” Luna explained. “There are a lot of questions. There are a lot of blank spaces. In my research, I found a lot of my questions had no answers. It allowed me to create a character with complete freedom, using the material I had and filling those spaces.”

Did Diego Luna return for ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Season 3?

Unfortunately, actor Diego Luna did not reprise the role of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo in the third and final season of Narcos: Mexico. So, why didn’t the actor return for the third and final season? Well, it seems Luna needed a break from the Narcos universe. 

In an April 2020 interview with IndieWire, the Mexican actor said he needed a break from the series. “At the beginning, it was fun, but then it became really heavy for me. I need rest. Those two years were really intense for me,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the Narcos: Mexico star will return to the Star Wars universe in the Disney+ series centered around his Rogue One character Cassian Andor. At the moment, there is limited information about the project. But, Luna revealed he’s eager to return to the Stars Wars universe. 

“I can’t really talk about it. The thing I can tell you, and it’s a nice challenge, and it’s a great way to approach a show, but what happens when you already know the ending?” Luna explained, referring to Cassian’s death at the end of Rogue One. “Then it becomes about the story. Everything is in how you tell the story and how many different layers you can find. This can’t be a show now where at the end we surprise you with like, ‘Oh no, it wasn’t him!’ We’ve already seen the ending.”

All three seasons of Narcos: Mexico is streaming now on Netflix.