Mexican actor-director Diego Luna is known for his leading roles in ‘Y tu mamá también,’ ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ and ‘Narcos: Mexico.’
Who Is Diego Luna?
Diego Luna surfaced in a string of Mexican telenovelas and films before impressing international audiences as the co-star of Y tu mamá también (2001). He became a familiar face in Hollywood with appearances in high-profile films like The Terminal (2004) and Milk (2008) and went on to prominent roles in Star Wars: Rogue One (2016) and “Narcos: Mexico” (2018-20). Luna has also directed features like Abel (2010) and Mr. Pig (2016) and produced films with his lifelong friend and frequent co-star Gael García Bernal.
How Old Is Diego Luna?
Diego Luna Alexander was born in Mexico City, Mexico, on December 29, 1979.
Early Life and Theater Beginnings
Luna was born into a theater family: His Mexican father, Alejandro Luna, was a set designer and theater director, and his British mother, Fiona Alexander, was a costume designer.
Luna made his screen debut at age two with an appearance in Carlos Suara’s Antonieta (1982). Sadly, his mother died in a car accident while returning home from the set of that film.
Looking to stay close to his sole surviving parent, who had to “play father and mother,” Luna stuck with the theater community and landed his first stage role at age seven. He soon built the foundation for a promising screen career, enabling him to achieve financial independence by age 15.
Film and TV Roles
‘El abuelo y yo,’ ‘Before Night Falls’
Luna appeared in the award-winning short film El último fin de año (1992), but he soon became known for his parts in the telenovelas “El abuelo y yo” (1992), alongside his friend Gael García Bernal, and “El premio mayor” (1995). A steadily expanding resume, which included featured roles in the films Un hilito de sangre (1995), El cometa (1998) and Un dulce olor a muerte (1999), paved the way for his appearance in the Venice Film Festival selection Before Night Falls (2000).
‘Y tu mamá también’
Although Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón was looking for unknown faces in his road-trip movie, he agreed to cast the already accomplished Luna and García Bernal to play best friends for the project. Their chemistry provided the heartbeat for the social commentary and sexual exploration that made Y tu mamá también an international hit. The co-leads were recognized for their efforts with the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actors at the 2001 Venice Film Festival.
‘Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,’ ‘Milk’
Leveraging his newfound stardom, Luna earned supporting parts alongside Hollywood A-listers in Frida (2002), Open Range (2003) and The Terminal. He enjoyed his first English-language lead role in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) and kept busy with Mexican productions like Nicotina (2003) and Sólo Dios sabe (2006) before landing in the high-profile production of Milk as the lover of Sean Penn‘s groundbreaking activist.
‘Elysium,’ ‘The Book of Life’
After reuniting with García Bernal for Rudo y Cursi (2008), Luna again joined his buddy and Will Ferrell for the telenovela-inspired Casa de mi padre (2012). A supporting role for Matt Damon in the action-thriller Elysium (2013) followed before Luna earned top billing and a chance to showcase his singing chops in the animated The Book of Life (2014).
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‘Star Wars: Rogue One,’ ‘Andor’
The upward trajectory continued when Luna played rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor for the Star Wars spinoff Rogue One. Along with allowing the actor to shine as a complex but heroic main character, the role provided a platform for cultural representation in the form of Andor’s Mexican accent. Luna later stepped back into the shoes of the cutthroat space spy for the Disney + series “Andor.”
Luna followed with a remake of Flatliners (2017) and small parts in ensemble films like If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) and A Rainy Day in New York (2019). He garnered the most buzz during this period for portraying real-life drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo in “Narcos: Mexico.” Initially hesitant to accept the role, Luna came to view it as an opportunity to shed light on the multiple levels of corruption that fuel the drug trade. While he earned praise for his nuanced performance as Félix Gallardo, Luna said he was relieved to step away from the show’s heavy material after two seasons.
‘Tales of Arcadia’
Following his positive experience with The Book of Life, Luna resumed voiceover work for Guillermo del Toro’s Tales of Arcadia TV and film franchise. His alien prince Krel Tarron briefly surfaced in an episode of “Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia” (2018) before emerging as a lead for both seasons of “3Below: Tales of Arcadia” (2018-19) and later returning for the big-screen finale Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans (2021). Meanwhile, Luna also voiced the character of Zatz for the indigenous-themed animated series “Maya and the Three” (2021).
‘Abel,’ ‘Mr. Pig’
After shooting J.C. Chávez (2007), a documentary about Mexican boxing champion Julio César Chávez, Luna earned promising reviews for his darkly comic take on absentee fatherhood with Abel (2010). He then turned his focus to another Mexican American icon with the biopic Cesar Chavez (2014) before winning over fans with the Danny Glover and Maya Rudolph-led Mr. Pig (2016). Luna later took on TV directing for the first time with the Netflix family dramedy “Everything Will be Fine” (2021).
Luna and García Bernal teamed up with producer Pablo Cruz to launch Cananas Films in 2003. Along with backing a slew of Mexican-produced features, Cananas oversaw the formation of the nonprofit organization and traveling film festival Ambulante A.C.
Shortly after Luna and García Bernal announced their departure from Cananas in March 2018, they founded a new film-TV venture called La Corriente del Golfo.
Wife and Children
After filming El Búfalo de la Noche (2007), Luna and actress/singer Camila Sodi went public with their relationship that year and were married in Mexico City in February 2008. The couple became parents to son Jerónimo in August 2008 and daughter Fiona in July 2010 before announcing their separation in 2013.
Among his numerous activist endeavors, Luna became involved with UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, in 2013. After an earthquake struck the region around the Mexican city of Puebla in September 2017, he and García Bernal quickly launched a relief effort to raise funds to rebuild homes, schools and hospitals.
Luna has also used his art to bring attention to the marginalized and persecuted. His short film Nana, which debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, focused on the personal sacrifices of domestic workers. The actor also used the 2018 Mexican stage production of Privacidad, in which he starred, as an opportunity to speak out against the overreach of government surveillance.