'Narcos: Mexico' Star Fernanda Urrejola on Transforming Into Guiding Light for Infamous Drug Lord (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
There's a new jefe in charge.
Narcos: Mexico introduces a whole new cartel, new leader and dynamic new story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. This time around, Diego Lunaportrays Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, referred to as El Padrino and known as the Mexican drug lord who formed the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1980s. As the Netflix series begins to dive deep into the origin story of the Mexican cartel, fans also get to see Félix Gallardo's family life, including his relationship with his beloved wife, Maria Elvira, portrayed by Fernanda Urrejola.
ET spoke with the Chilean actress about her role as one-half of the power couple that slowly takes over Mexico's drug trade.
"Maria is a very strong woman. She is the daughter of a narco, so she knows a lot about the narcos world,” Urrejola tells ET over the phone. “Félix Gallardo learns a lot about her father. So they are a very united couple, a power couple. He will listen to her, but then the power gets in his head and she kind of loses him a little bit.”
While Urrejola was not very familiar with the story of the Guadalajara Cartel, she “immediately started doing my own research” once she landed the role. What she found was that Maria was a loyal and devoted wife that only wanted the best for her family.
“She grew up in that narco world, so she doesn’t have any judgment. She knows that her husband has to remain alive, that’s what is most important for her,” she explains. “At the beginning, she understands that he’s doing everything because he wants to create this huge empire and she thinks that it is the most intelligent thing to do. It’s perfect. You have to keep your enemies together. That is something that she knows.”
“But she also knows that it is a very dangerous place and she wants him to be the boss, but she doesn’t want him to be very involved,” Urrejola adds. “When she realizes that he’s thinking bigger and losing his head in power, she gets really worried and she tries to pull him down. But there is nothing she can do about it.”
In episode four, Maria tells her husband, “Ocupate de tus negocios, pero también protege a esta familia,” which translates to “take care of your business, but also protect this family.”
“For her, that is the most important thing, family first,” Urrejola states. “She doesn’t care about power, she already has the power she needs. For her, family is the first thing and you have to remember that for the rest of your life. She will do everything she can to help him remember that.”
Her character may struggle with Félix Gallardo, but she had an amazing time working with Luna.
“He is a great guy, an amazing actor. He is a very good partner,” Urrejola marvels. “He was always there and was kind to everyone, and it was great working with him. I wouldn’t expect any less because when you meet him, you can tell he’s an amazing human being and it shows. It was my first time meeting him.”
“At the beginning, I was like, ‘Diego, you really need to help me with this. If you think I’m saying something wrong or some words that I am not putting together in the Mexican way, [let me know],’” she shares about their time on set. “Because, you know, Chilean and Mexicans are not very similar. I was concerned that I wasn’t saying things correctly and he was always there. He would make me feel very relaxed and it was great. And I knew that I could count on him.”
As far as what makes the Narcos series so exciting and enticing, Urrejola says it’s because “human beings are crazy with power. No matter what. I think that it’s one of the reasons [that people are so interested in stories about narcos].”
“It’s something that has been going on and doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop,” she notes. “It’s all about power and who gets the power. It’s something that thrills human beings. Especially this show, that is so well done and how they manage to get the action in and get to the emotional part. It’s a very thrilling show. I know that people love it because it’s all about power. No matter where you get the power, we’re always searching for that. It’s a sad part of humankind but it’s there and happening.”
Another reason to tune into this new season is a chance to see a whole new Drug Enforcement Administration team.
“It’s also great to see a new DEA. The character of Kiki Camarena [played by Michael Peña] that is totally different from [Pedro] Pascal’s character, [Javier Peña] and it shows a very different relationship between this DEA and the cartel," Urrejola expresses.
The story further evolves to show how power-hungry men, and women, will do anything to take over.
“This is a very unknown cartel. It’s the past, and this is the beginning. It’s very interesting being able to understand this whole new culture, but also the birth of the huge cartel and drug world that is in Mexico,” she adds. “What I do like a lot about this [season] is how a very nice guy, Diego’s character, starts to get crazy about power. There is nothing you can do about it. Even the best guy, if he’s in that position, he would get crazy. It’s about a human condition, and I don’t know how we get lost when we get power. It’s beautiful to see that change from the beginning, from the first chapter, a guy who is very into his family and his own, and then the power gets into his mind and he starts to lose it.”
The full season of Narcos: Mexico starts streaming on Netflix on Nov. 16.