Luis Gerardo Méndez was a younger man rising up in Aguascalientes when the occasions portrayed in Narcos: Mexico have been segments on the native information. The son of a physician who labored in a Mexican police station, he was effectively conscious of the crimes dedicated by drug cartels in his nation and skilled the resonating affect that they had on his group. So when he was provided a job within the last season of the hit Netflix sequence, he leapt on the alternative.
“This season specifically hits near residence,” says Méndez. Within the present, he performs Victor Tapia, a Juarez police officer within the ‘90s who begins to analyze the disappearance of a neighborhood teenage lady. Although the character is fictionalized, his storyline is predicated round the actual murders of numerous younger girls across the metropolis at the moment. “The conditions and criminals portrayed are nonetheless related,” he says. “All of us labored arduous to be as delicate, respectful, and genuine as attainable.”
Regardless of being naturally lean, Méndez placed on 25 kilos to look extra like a Juarez cop at the moment. Males’s Journal spoke with the Mexican actor in regards to the two-year course of of creating the ultimate season of Narcos: Mexico.
Males’s Journal: What did you assume when Narcos first hit Netflix?
Luis Gerardo Méndez: I used to be an enormous fan earlier than I joined the solid. It’s been my favourite Netflix present since binging that first season with Wagner Moura taking part in Pablo Escobar. I used to be blown away by the extraordinary cinematography, and in addition thrilled to see a lot unimaginable Latin expertise in a manufacturing that acquired a lot assist from the studio. It’s so thrilling for me now to having landed a job in a program that I respect a lot. The present is explosive and naturally has all this unimaginable filmmaking. Nevertheless it additionally touches on what was happening politically, socially, and economically—and nonetheless is.
Narcos: Mexico offers with subject material that is still very present. How acquainted have been you with these storylines?
This final season is about all of these headlines I bear in mind seeing on the information rising up in Mexico within the ‘90s—with politicians being killed and all these loopy issues that occuring. However with this present, even I get a deeper understanding of the entire components and politics that have been going down behind the scenes.
The tales on this present are very a lot grounded within the full actuality of that point. My very own character this season, for instance, is that this cop who’s discovering all of those younger girls murdered in Juarez the place he’s stationed. That was an enormous story in Juarez again then—and, by the best way, it’s nonetheless taking place. Ten girls are killed in Mexico on daily basis.
This began again within the ‘90s due to all of the drug cartel exercise. There weren’t any penalties as a result of the police have been so busy elsewhere. Narcos: Mexico doesn’t simply present the dangerous guys in motion and the explosions. It additionally explains the implications of all the things—together with the implications of consuming. When you’re smoking weed in California, you aren’t hurting anybody. However if you happen to’re taking cocaine, you want to concentrate on what some folks have executed to get that product there.
How did you first turn into conscious of this function and that they wished you?
The producers of Narcos: Mexico referred to as me two years in the past to supply this main function within the last season. In fact, I used to be very excited once they advised me I’d be good for the character. I went residence, celebrated with all my mates with loads of mezcal, after which about two hours later my agent calls to inform me that they weren’t going to be utilizing me for the function. They thought I used to be nice, however that I seemed too match—like I had simply come again from a Pilates class.
They stated that I didn’t actually appear like a cop understanding of Juarez, Mexico within the ‘90s. I used to be like, “Are you kidding me?” I began pleading with them, telling them I’d do no matter was wanted, and that I may change my physique. If wanted, I’d simply put the burden on.
They stated, “Are you positive?” Sure, I used to be positive. So I managed to persuade them. They by no means gave me a quantity—however I can let you know I placed on about 25 kilos. Possibly extra.
How did you go about placing on the burden?
I knew that I wished skilled assist gaining the burden. I wasn’t trying to destroy my physique, and spoke to a few nutritionists and trainers to first get as a lot info as attainable. Then I began consuming someplace round 7,000 or 8,000 energy a day—a bit greater than my ordinary 2,000. It was a whole lot of meals. At first it’s kind of enjoyable, attending to eat all this ice cream, pasta, and pizza. However after 4 days, you’re over it. I used to be consuming much more of what I’d often eat. I used to be additionally consuming these 2,000 calorie shakes between meals.
In fact, once I signed on I believed I’d solely have to hold on like this for six months. However then the pandemic occurred and it ended up being a 12 months and a half. I used to be locked down in Tulum, consuming all the things I may get my arms on. I often take excellent care of myself, in order that was a very attention-grabbing and difficult expertise—seeeing what that type of weight and continually consuming can do to your psyche. So far as my character, I wished to ensure that I may painting the burden on the soul. Each night time this man goes out in a harmful world with all of this financial strain bearing down on him.
The character additionally has to throw folks round and will get a fair proportion of motion. Past caloric consumption, what sort of bodily coaching did you do?
I put myself by a fairly critical coaching program as a result of it was about placing on as a lot mass as attainable. This cop isn’t just a few slob. He’s a tricky man who’s capable of deal with himself as effectively, and has just a few extra kilos to get the job executed. A number of years again, I did a boxing film the place I actually discovered easy methods to throw a correct punch. This time I used to be doing it with a distinct type of physique, so there have been changes that I wanted to make.
Did you do any technical coaching in techniques whereas getting ready to play a police officer?
There’s an enormous safety workforce that’s at all times with us on the set. As a result of we’re surrounded by consultants, former army, and safety personnel, they have been capable of train us easy methods to shoot weapons, bazookas, and all the things else. A few of them have been Israeli military. They helped us out with all of this tactical coaching. Even my driver on set was a former police officer in Mexico. He was giving me recommendation and ideas too.
As soon as you bought the physicality proper, how did you analysis your character?
Each character requires a distinct type of investigation, however these days I’ve discovered that my course of requires chasing down that precise particular person in actual life. It’s not the one manner I do it, but it surely’s my favourite—attending to see somebody like that within the flesh. I then research them, find out how they assume, transfer and converse. That’s what I did for this sequence. I went to Juarez with some mates to seek out this particular person—and I finally discovered him.
This man was a working policeman within the ‘90s when all of this was taking place. I talked to him at size to grasp the motivations he had throughout these days and be taught from his personal experiences. For instance, there have been occasions when he’d obtain cash in an envelope from somebody he didn’t know. He took that cash—which meant he’d do no matter wanted to be executed when the dangerous guys referred to as him over the radio. Whereas speaking to him I additionally tried to select up on his accent—as a result of it’s a really specific one.
Along with this character, I used to be capable of convey a few of my father’s life into the function as effectively. He was a physician who labored with the police division once I was rising up.
Have been you capable of discuss to your father in regards to the function and listen to extra about his personal experiences again then?
I had an opportunity to speak with my father about this function earlier than he handed. In a manner, this character is an ode to him as a result of I ended up trying identical to him within the present. My father additionally acted just about like him. Though he was a physician with the police, there have been occasions the place he was compelled to go over the road as effectively—like going into cells to beat folks in the event that they have been misbehaving.
One time, he advised me, he was doing an evening shift on the station and heard voices coming from one of many cells. They have been policemen speaking about how they have been going to rob some financial institution. My father heard all of it, however pretended he hadn’t. Two days later, there was a giant financial institution theft in my hometown. It was a sophisticated time. You wanted to know easy methods to deal with your self with out getting killed.
You share a terrific scene with Scoot McNairy, one of many leads from final season. What was it like becoming a member of the crew and dealing with him?
Scoot is a implausible actor. I bear in mind being so impressed as effectively along with his work in Argo. We didn’t get to have too many scenes collectively, however that first one is necessary. These two guys are in legislation enforcement throughout the border from one another—one in every of them works for the DEA, the opposite is a cop in Juarez—however they’re having some very related struggles. Scoot got here to my home right here in Mexico Metropolis and we have been capable of rehearse and work on the strains collectively. We even have the identical appearing coach, so there are some similarities in our course of.
Not solely do we’ve super actors this season, we even have unimaginable administrators. Certainly one of them being Wagner Moura—who everybody is aware of from his function as Pablo Escobar within the Colombia seasons.
Moura additionally went by a physique change to placed on weight. Have been you capable of talk about that in any respect?
I bear in mind after we met on set—with the masks on and all the things. He came to visit and gave me a hug. I may see it in his eyes. He simply stated, “Dude, I really feel for you.” He advised me it was going to be a ache within the ass to do away with it too. He additionally advised me that I used to be by no means going to wish to undergo it once more.
Was he proper?
I’ve to say that to date I’d agree. I don’t assume I’m ever going to wish to put my physique by this once more. Possibly I’ll placed on some actual muscle and benefit from the more healthy manner of going about it.
Moura used a vegan food plan to lose the burden. What’s been your personal course of?
The very first thing I attempted was a keto food plan, and that actually didn’t work for me in any respect. I discovered so much throughout this course of—primarily that you have to discover what works for you. Not each food plan out there’s going to provide the proper outcomes. I additionally tried intermittent fasting, which additionally didn’t work as a result of I’m a really lively particular person. I’m at all times filming one thing, producing one thing, and operating my mezcal model Ojo de Tigre.
I ended up going about it the great distance—counting energy and macros. I paired a dialed down food plan with high-intensity coaching, cardio, and a whole lot of lengthy runs in Venice the place I dwell now. I’d additionally go into the ocean for lengthy swims.
How does it really feel to be concerned with such a preferred present the place folks really converse your native language?
Getting to talk Spanish in a present like it is a dream. I’ve been filming within the U.S. for the previous few years. I get pleasure from appearing in English as effectively, but it surely’s a very completely different universe. On the finish of a protracted day of filming in English I’m simply exhausted as a result of I’m not solely appearing however having to assume otherwise. It feels proper to do these sorts of tales in our language. I wouldn’t say it’s straightforward, but it surely feels pure and extra deeply linked.
Narcos: Mexico is now accessible on Netflix.
For entry to unique gear movies, movie star interviews, and extra, subscribe on YouTube!