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Listen: ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Star Diego Luna Talks Drug War, Corruption

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Diego Luna, the star of the Netflix series “Narcos: Mexico,” talks with Variety about the impact that working on the Netflix series has had on him.

“I’ve been travelling around the world promoting the show and I realized the show was promoting me because it’s huge everywhere,” Luna said. “We went to the Phillipines, we went to Mumbai…we went to Europe. Anyway, the show is huge and this is a new season, but I would say it’s not like the next season. It’s just a new show because we’re starting everything from scratch. We’ve gone back in time and now we tell you the story of the Guadalajara Cartel and what’s happening in Mexico parallel to the story you already saw of Colombia.”

Luna stars as Félix Gallardo, a real drug kingpin who formed the Mexican cartel in the 1980s. Luna, who is himself Mexican, said that he hopes the show will make people understand the true cost of the war on drugs and how Mexico factors into it.

“It’s really important for us in Mexico to get the word out about what’s happening there,” he said. “And that’s how the show starts. It’s been more than half a million people killed in this war on drugs in a country that–we happen to be there. We’re the door between countries in development and the first world. The big market is [the U.S.], the producers are down [in South America], and we’re in between. It won’t stop until we realize it’s not a Mexican issue. It’s our issue. It’s a global issue.”

Luna went on to say that he sat down with series showrunner Eric Newman before there was a script to discuss the show and his character. Newman told him that he wanted to tell a human story of the people on all sides of the drug trade, both the criminals and the cops.

“The main protagonist is cocaine, not a cop or a narco,” Luna said. He also said that the show documents “the mess that corruption has created on both sides of the border.”

“The government was no victim,” he continued. “The government was a very important part and on top of the pyramid, you know? That I did understand doing this. And the other thing, since we are talking about inclusion, getting to work with the best Mexican actors all in one project–there’s a few missing, obviously–but I got to work with amazing people that I admire, that I’ve been following, that inspire me. And knowing that they’re going to be part of this show with this reach, that’s exciting.”

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