Diego is featuring on cover of Mexican ‘Cream’ magazine, that you can already find in selected stands. The behind-the-scene video was directed by Gael’s brother, Dario Bernal.
The original interview can be found on cream.mx/diegoluna. He talks about life in general, his career, his dreams, and it’s an amazing piece. Read below the translated version:
Diego is difficult to describe, I do not know how to explain it. It is in his gaze, in his walk, in his speech, in the love of the ordinary things of life. That sparkle in your eyes when you talk about things that move you. It is this something that makes me, not only to me but also to the Mexicans in general, to feel him close, like one of us, no matter that he is part of the mecca of the cinema: for all is still Diego Luna. It was Gareth Edwards, the director who chose Diego to star in Star Wars Rogue One, who looked for him because he needed actors to connect and mime with the public, a little to remind us that not all the big Hollywood stars belong to Olympus. True magic comes when we feel identified with who plays a role on the big screen.
Undaunted, Diego speaks with the same ease of the party of the Pumas of the weekend, that of their fears or of the problems that crumble to our country. He says he would have loved to go to college, but the teachings outside the classroom have been vast and enriching. The result is an alert man, who questions himself and the reality that surrounds him, and that especially explores his freedom daily. This is Diego, someone who assumes the challenges as they arise, who does not believe in noise from outside. He never sought fame or become obsessed with it, he knows that things come and go, but they never stay. Maybe that’s why everything has been better than if he had planned it himself. Here there are no myths or tricks, much less a stroke of luck. He is a man of flesh and bone, passionate to the bone for what he does, full of charisma and talent, working hard, with an immeasurable desire to keep growing without forgetting his roots, his own, who was before of having the reflectors in front and who wants to be once they stop pointing it.
Who is Diego Luna?
It’s me basically, I find it hard to talk about myself. I am the father of Jeronimo and Fiona, son of Alexander. I like to make movies and I like to live in Mexico. I like to tell stories and I like to listen to stories. I’ve always been very curious about the stories of others, that’s why I like theater and cinema. I like what I do because I was a public since very young.
I read that, although unconventional, you had a childhood and adolescence very rich in experiences, full of magic, very close to your dad. It will have been rich to grow like this.
Yes, I saw it as very positive. Maybe now in the distance and tending children I question things and say “oh, bastard, was that good or bad?”. But there is no good or bad, you touch what you can and I had a childhood surrounded by adults, to the point that I started to live as an adult since very young. Then I made a movie about it. Abel is a movie about a child who thinks he is an adult. That happened to me as a boy: to be more with my dad and make sure I had him close, I started to play a role that might not fit me, but that did let me see and live great things.
You said that you did not think about success and did not look for it as such, and that’s why it came as overwhelming. What is the most difficult to be on top?
It’s hard to answer. The advantage of this race is that you can always go climbing. You’re always going to fall, but there is always a chance to keep moving forward, to reinvent yourself. I see two different things. One thing is fame, which is very harmful and very dangerous; Maybe it was what first came into my life as a kid when I was on TV. And then, the recognition, which is the fruit of your work, reaches you at the ideal moment, when you need it and you are ready. The fame comes suddenly and makes you crazy. As soon as it arrives it goes away, because you matter very little. The phenomenon is what counts and people want to relive the phenomenon over and over, the phenomenon of novelty. Instead recognition comes at the right time, to give you energy to follow, to inspire you. That one came to me in time at this stage of my life and came with a freedom that I appreciate very much.
And also knowing where you stand, right?
Yes … and especially knowing where I do not want to be stopped.
There are moments of a career in which dreams materialize. If you go back in time and you’ll talk to Diego about eight or ten years later, would you believe it? Do you feel that Star Wars was that moment for you?
Yes, I spent a lot of time thinking about that. It happened to me in the filming and in the premiere, because I was living from inside the experience of the public to reconnect with Star Wars , with this universe. Our film is very much a homage to those first films that I saw, with whom I fell in love, to that eighty generation, to which I belong, that reconnected with his childhood in that way. I had to live it from the inside and it was very exciting to see what it meant for the public, because for me it meant the same thing. Like saying, “If I were not on this side, I’d be right there, I’d be one of those excited people who shout and clap their ticket to watch the midnight show.” This one is very special because it connects with that genesis that to me it marked me of chavillo. In the filming I sometimes happened to forget that I was working, and I was simply excited to see the world that paid tribute to the cinema of the late 70’s. Everything is built, the droids are moving. I said “it can not be”, it was like playing in the living room of my house. The cinema is no longer that, now it is a green screen and the movies are made in computer. Not this, this is like a play, we were inside and we were really inside.
The most interesting thing about this film is the celebration of cultural, racial diversity, at such a critical moment, in which the only thing that seems to stand out are the differences. How to counteract that?
It is counteracted by education. Today education is not a priority, it is related to a status. Education, patience and understanding. What happened clearly in the United States is that a disconnection was generated. There are people who I think are half fat, but I think there was a very strong arrogance on the liberal side: they stopped seeing a whole sector that did not feel represented, not feel understood by this other sector, and that fracture generated what we’re living today. We forgot that we are all part of something bigger. We settle into our niche and think we have to get out there and meet the others. You have to be patient and seek understanding. It is up to us from Mexico to be very concerned about the whole community that lives in deep uncertainty about not knowing what is going to happen to them. It is nothing more than fear, on the part of Mexicans and fear of those who reject us … It is a well-founded fear. When you go there you realize that rejection is not as categorical as that posed by Donald Trump. In many places there have been very positive and supportive reactions. From here we must constantly send a message that we are with that part of the population that today can not come to manifest itself. They got their voice out, silenced them, and it’s up to us to give them a voice. Today we live in a world where pressure can be generated. Where the voice weighs. There is an empathy with Mexico for which we did not do much eh? In fact we did not do anything, we are a country that thinks very little abroad. We care very little about Latin America or Europe. Just open a Mexican newspaper and see how many pages the international section has compared to sports or arts or entertainment. We are a little bit of a mother whatever happens in the rest of the world. This is the time to change that, to go and tell our story out, listen to others and start looking for echoes elsewhere. We have depended on the United States for life.
What is Mexico for you?
My love stories, my family, my referents, the food I like the most, the place where I feel most comfortable. Also the place that worries me the most.
Sure, it’s where your kids grow up.
It is a country that is urging a radical change, we are self-destructing very fast and we are getting used to things we should not get used to: brutal levels of violence, levels of inequality and impunity that we take for granted. We should understand that we deserve better.
And not only understand it, but do something about it.
Of course, when we understand that we deserve something better, we will not accept this reality. The problem is that we accept it. Inequality is like this: the protected, those who live in that elite are not willing to let anything go. It shocks me a lot that the rich can handle these belts of poverty and nothing happens to them, that they feel nothing. We are getting used to those levels and we are accepting corruption. It is urgent that we understand that things can change. That if it changes the life to the one of front, it will do us good, that our neighbors are as important as us.
Speaking of your profession, you reached a point in your career where you have more professional freedom. You can choose between creating, directing or acting … theater, cinema, tele. What moves you, what makes you choose one project over another?
Usually what I’m telling has to do with what worries me. That there is a direct connection, that’s why I started to direct, because it is very difficult to find that connection. Not that a project that comes to the table is not interesting, is that you have to find the personal connection … is very important. For a long time to act was to learn and learn, but suddenly you begin to think that you want to tell your own story. It is very difficult as an actor to do that, it is very dangerous. Those who try to impose their point of view from the position of the actor end up becoming a nightmare for anyone. It’s Hollywood’s problem: there’s too much power.
What you do with power depends on how selfish you are. The actor should not have as much power because the point of view is the director, he is the one who decides from the story and the story. What happened to me was very valuable. I began to realize that I was trying to impose my point of view and said, “I will not do this to anyone, I better tell my own stories.” And since then, according to me, I have become I do not know if better actor, but less heavy for those who hire me and that has been father. That comes from the theater, I think that’s why in this country there are such good actors. In the theater you can generate your own work. Thus began the theater, in public squares, did not exist the directors. They were actors who put themselves on a stool, stopped and began to tell stories. So when the actors say it is very difficult and there is no work, I tell them to open their opportunities, to tell their stories. The form of the monologue is the simplest thing to do, it is enough that there are two people in front of you to make it happen.
The fortune of your profession is that it is your turn to live several lives in one. You can transcend, change skin, live other feelings. How is it for you to enrich yourself with other lives?
I do not feel like living many lives, it’s just a game of imagination. Nothing compares to going outside and things happen to you. The cinema alienates the actors of the public and if you do not go out to tell the stories outside, where they are happening, you forget what you are talking about, you forget what the world is about. Those are most of the movies you sit around and say “mmm, ok”. I am getting more and more excited about films in which the line between reality and fiction is not well defined, and suddenly there are actors who are not actors but are the characters and are confronted with an actor and spend very interesting things. When the actors have that appetite and that curiosity to go out and see what is going on outside, then life does begin to get rich. You say “ah, bastard, how interesting.” It’s not about you, it’s about the others. For me it has been very important to understand that part of the conception of my profession, that is not to understand what happens to me, it is about what happens to others and they tell you, how that affects me and allows me do something different.
You said that you thank Cuarón, Del Toro and Iñárritu, etc., who opened the doors for the Mexicans. You and Gael have done that for others. They have been opening roads that were closed for Mexicans in Hollywood.
I would say we have been very fortunate. Cuaron, Iñárritu, Del Toro, Reygadas, are awesome, but they are also very fortunate to live when they had to live. There have always been talented people, not that from day to day it has started to be born very talented people: it is that the world is changing. We had to live in a time when borders were easier to play. The cinema began to be more universal; The border or the language stopped defining the market. The market became the world. From Chavito I had to wait until the Cineteca or the Cineclub de la UNAM, or the one near my house, to project something of an interesting director to go and see him. Today you go to the internet and find the director you want, from anywhere in the world and your cinema affects you and therefore you do something different. We had to live in another era, a time that allows us to travel with our work in this way. Those who made films in the 70s and 80s in this country were very talented, but they were other times, other tools.
When do you feel more free?
When I’m at my house, in the kitchen of my house, ha ha.
What would you say to Diego from twenty years ago?
Finish school, go to college, study something else, there is still time, time is not over. You always want what you do not have: I do not have a generation. My generation is five or six friends that we started to act as kids. My best friend is ten years older than me, my compadre twenty years older than me. I did not grow up with a group of people my age whom I later found professionally, I did not nurture a friendship that would accompany me ever since. The people around me are very defined by the projects I was doing. That has its pros and cons, and sometimes I look back and say “how rich it would have been to throw me about five years in a university to explore.” I did not have to explore much, it was my job. The consequences of my decisions were very definite and the good thing about school is that you can explore, it is just the time for testing and error.
What do you want to leave to your children?
Freedom to choose where they want to be, what they want to do. Let them decide what they want their life to be like.
Where do you want to go? What do you dream with?
With what dream? I do not know, I’m at a time when it’s hard for me to define myself. Sometimes I dream of doing theater until the last of my days. Sometimes I dream about living on a ranch and raise animals, have a vegetable and cook, and what I became clear is that I will not be a footballer, ha ha ha. I do not have much time left, I do not know …