'Narcos: Mexico': Diego Luna on the Dangers of Feeling 'Untouchable' in Season 2 (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
It's lonely at the top.
Over a year after season one of Narcos: Mexico debuted on Netflix, season two is finally (almost) here. The crime drama's sophomore season debuts on Thursday, and as star Diego Luna told ET, the stakes have been raised.
"He's going to have to face all the mistakes he did in season one," Luna said of his character, real-life Mexican drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, who, in the first season, is seen ordering the torture and murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena (Michael Peña).
Gallardo, who is credited for founding the modern Mexican drug trade, was arrested for his crimes in 1989. While the first season of Narcos: Mexico focused on the development of the Guadalajara Cartel he started, season two focuses on the aftermath of Camarena's murder, with the DEA's Operation Leyenda, headed up by agent Walt Breslin (Scoot McNairy), trying to take Gallardo and his organization down.
"He got rid of his friends, his family, the people he could trust, and that has consequences," Luna explained of Gallardo, who enjoyed political protection while his associates were apprehended following Camarena's murder. "His ego is going to become an issue, and he has this feeling he's untouchable, so the system is going to remind him he's wrong. It's going to be an interesting season for many, many reasons. There's new characters that you'll meet throughout the season, and then everyone that you saw on the side suddenly can become an enemy. Everyone wants a piece of what he deals."
One of those characters is Isabella Bautista (Teresa Ruiz), who has found herself on the outs of the organization.
"She was hurt and betrayed and even abused by Felix in season one, so I think we're going to find her very angry to begin with," Ruiz said. "Her quest for power or her quest to have something of her own is much more motivated, because she's not naive anymore. I think last season we saw her grow from being a young girl, just having a vision, up until having so much to offer and being undermined. In this season, she doesn't have that blindfold over her eyes."
As Isabella tries to find her footing outside of the cartel, others rise within it, like Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. The now-famous drug lord started working for Gallardo in the 1980s, but branched out with his own cartel after Gallardo's arrest.
"This season is getting closer and closer to [present day]," Luna shared. "So, all the names that we're going to be hearing are people that actually are there. Most of them are alive, and many of them still operate. All of the politicians are still there... So, it's interesting to see that -- what happens when the story starts to get that close."
When signing on to play Gallardo in season one, Luna decided not to reach out to the drug lord or his family for input or insight into the role -- he prefered to craft his character using more objective materials. Neither Gallardo nor his associates have reached out to Luna after Narcos: Mexico's debut -- and Luna says, "if that ever happens, I will try to ignore it as much as possible."
"It's not something I need to know. To me, the purpose of doing this is what can be said about the big picture," he explained. "I'm not here to give you a take or an angle no one has seen before, because that would be pretentious. And also, it's not a character that you can find anywhere. It's not like Escobar, where you have documentaries, you have other films, you have recordings, you have books, you have notes. Gallardo is pretty much a character that people don't actually know, so that gave me some freedom."
Narcos: Mexico is thus a commentary on the modern drug war and all its complexities -- and one Luna is happy to bring to audiences. The actor was growing up in Mexico during Gallardo's rise to power.
"Power [makes] you blind and you stop seeing actually what's around you and how much you also are a victim in a way," he said, adding that the show has helped illuminate this notion.
"It's a system that creates these characters and gets rid of them when they're not needed anymore. In actuality, it's not good and bad. It is not good people chasing the bad guy. It's a system where corruption is present everywhere, and it's a system that involves government, police, military, banks on both sides of the border. And I think the big realization for this character in season two is that he is being used," Luna added. "You can not change the system. It's the system that changes you."
Season two of Narcos: Mexico is available to stream on Netflix starting Feb. 13.