Luis Gerardo Méndez was a younger man rising up in Aguascalientes when the occasions portrayed in Narcos: Mexico had been segments on the native information. The son of a physician who labored in a Mexican police station, he was properly conscious of the crimes dedicated by drug cartels in his nation and skilled the resonating influence that they had on his group. So when he was supplied a job within the last season of the hit Netflix sequence, he leapt on the alternative.
“This season particularly hits near residence,” says Méndez. Within the present, he performs Victor Tapia, a Juarez police officer within the ‘90s who begins to research the disappearance of an area teenage woman. Although the character is fictionalized, his storyline is predicated round the true murders of numerous younger ladies across the metropolis at the moment. “The conditions and criminals portrayed are nonetheless related,” he says. “All of us labored onerous to be as delicate, respectful, and genuine as potential.”
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 concerning the two-year course of of constructing 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 enjoying Pablo Escobar. I used to be blown away by the extraordinary cinematography, and likewise thrilled to see a lot unbelievable Latin expertise in a manufacturing that bought 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 unbelievable filmmaking. However it additionally touches on what was occurring politically, socially, and economically—and nonetheless is.
Narcos: Mexico offers with subject material that continues to be very present. How acquainted had been you with these storylines?
This final season is about all of these headlines I keep in mind seeing on the information rising up in Mexico within the ‘90s—with politicians being killed and all these loopy issues that taking place. However with this present, even I get a deeper understanding of all the components and politics that had been happening 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 ladies murdered in Juarez the place he’s stationed. That was an enormous story in Juarez again then—and, by the way in which, it’s nonetheless taking place. Ten ladies are killed in Mexico daily.
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 had been so busy elsewhere. Narcos: Mexico doesn’t simply present the unhealthy guys in motion and the explosions. It additionally explains the implications of all the things—together with the implications of consuming. If you happen to’re smoking weed in California, you aren’t hurting anybody. However for those who’re taking cocaine, you want to concentrate on what some folks have performed to get that product there.
How did you first develop into conscious of this function and that they needed you?
The producers of Narcos: Mexico known as me two years in the past to supply this main function within the last season. In fact, I used to be very excited after they instructed me I’d be excellent for the character. I went residence, celebrated with all my associates 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 appeared too match—like I had simply come again from a Pilates class.
They stated that I didn’t actually appear to be a cop figuring out 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 load 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 load?
I knew that I needed skilled assist gaining the load. I wasn’t trying to destroy my physique, and spoke to a few nutritionists and trainers to first get as a lot data as potential. Then I began consuming someplace round 7,000 or 8,000 energy a day—a bit greater than my standard 2,000. It was plenty of meals. At first it’s type 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 normally eat. I used to be additionally ingesting these 2,000 calorie shakes between meals.
In fact, after I signed on I assumed I might solely have to hold on like this for six months. However then the pandemic occurred and it ended up being a yr and a half. I used to be locked down in Tulum, consuming all the things I may get my palms on. I normally take excellent care of myself, in order that was a very attention-grabbing and difficult expertise—seeeing what that sort of weight and consistently consuming can do to your psyche. So far as my character, I needed to guarantee that I may painting the load on the soul. Each evening this man goes out in a harmful world with all of this financial stress bearing down on him.
The character additionally has to throw folks round and will get a justifiable share of motion. Past caloric consumption, what sort of bodily coaching did you do?
I put myself via a fairly severe coaching program as a result of it was about placing on as a lot mass as potential. This cop isn’t just a few slob. He’s a troublesome man who’s capable of deal with himself as properly, and has a couple of extra kilos to get the job performed. A couple of years again, I did a boxing film the place I actually realized throw a correct punch. This time I used to be doing it with a unique sort of physique, so there have been changes that I wanted to make.
Did you do any technical coaching in techniques whereas making ready to play a police officer?
There’s an enormous safety crew that’s all the time with us on the set. As a result of we’re surrounded by consultants, former army, and safety personnel, they had been capable of educate us shoot weapons, bazookas, and all the things else. A few of them had 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 unique sort of investigation, however currently I’ve discovered that my course of requires chasing down that precise individual in actual life. It’s not the one method I do it, nevertheless it’s my favourite—attending to see somebody like that within the flesh. I then examine them, learn the way they assume, transfer and converse. That’s what I did for this sequence. I went to Juarez with some associates to seek out this individual—and I ultimately 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 know the motivations he had throughout these days and study from his personal experiences. For instance, there have been instances 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 performed when the unhealthy guys known as him over the radio. Whereas speaking to him I additionally tried to choose up on his accent—as a result of it’s a really explicit one.
Along with this character, I used to be capable of convey a few of my father’s life into the function as properly. He was a physician who labored with the police division after I was rising up.
Had been you capable of discuss to your father concerning 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 method, this character is an ode to him as a result of I ended up trying similar to him within the present. My father additionally acted just about like him. Regardless that he was a physician with the police, there have been instances the place he was pressured to go over the road as properly—like going into cells to beat folks in the event that they had been misbehaving.
One time, he instructed me, he was doing an evening shift on the station and heard voices coming from one of many cells. They had been policemen speaking about how they had 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 an advanced time. You wanted to know deal with your self with out getting killed.
You share an incredible 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 incredible actor. I keep in mind being so impressed as properly together 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 all 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 had been capable of rehearse and work on the strains collectively. We even have the identical performing coach, so there are some similarities in our course of.
Not solely do we now have great actors this season, we even have unbelievable administrators. One in every of them being Wagner Moura—who everybody is aware of from his function as Pablo Escobar within the Colombia seasons.
Moura additionally went via a physique change to placed on weight. Had been you capable of talk about that in any respect?
I keep in mind after we met on set—with the masks on and all the things. He came visiting and gave me a hug. I may see it in his eyes. He simply stated, “Dude, I really feel for you.” He instructed me it was going to be a ache within the ass to eliminate it too. He additionally instructed me that I used to be by no means going to need to undergo it once more.
Was he proper?
I’ve to say that to this point I might agree. I don’t assume I’m ever going to need to put my physique via this once more. Possibly I’ll placed on some actual muscle and benefit from the more healthy method of going about it.
Moura used a vegan food plan to lose the load. What’s been your individual course of?
The very first thing I attempted was a keto food plan, and that basically didn’t work for me in any respect. I realized so much throughout this course of—primarily that it’s essential 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 energetic individual. I’m all the time filming one thing, producing one thing, and operating my mezcal model Ojo de Tigre.
I ended up going about it the good distance—counting energy and macros. I paired a dialed down food plan with high-intensity coaching, cardio, and plenty of lengthy runs in Venice the place I stay now. I’d additionally go into the ocean for lengthy swims.
How does it really feel to be concerned with such a well-liked present the place folks truly converse your native language?
Getting to talk Spanish in a present like this can be a dream. I’ve been filming within the U.S. for the previous few years. I take pleasure in performing in English as properly, nevertheless it’s a totally totally different universe. On the finish of an extended day of filming in English I’m simply exhausted as a result of I’m not solely performing however having to assume differently. It feels proper to do these sorts of tales in our language. I wouldn’t say it’s straightforward, nevertheless it feels pure and extra deeply related.
Narcos: Mexico is now out there on Netflix.
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