Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is only weeks away from bringing us a new chapter in the #StarWars universe, introducing the story of Jyn Erso and her role in the rebellion against the Empire. Though this film focuses on Felicity Jones’s character Jyn, let's shine the spotlight on Diego Luna, who plays Captain Cassian Andor.
For some, Mexican actor Diego Luna might seem like a familiar face. He’s been acting in Hollywood films since his early 20s and has worked with high-profile actors like Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks and John C. Reilly.
Here are seven of Luna's roles that you simply must check out before Rogue One hits theaters in December.
1. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
Luna's most popular role to date is as Tenoch Iturbide, a disenchanted young man who dreams of being a writer despite his father's insistence that he pursue a career in economics. Fresh out of high school, Tenoch coasts through life with his best friend Julio, until a chance encounter with a woman named Luisa turns his world upside down.
As Tenoch, Luna gives a performance that is raw and gritty. The openly sexual narrative of the film posits Tenoch as a young man stuck in a limbo of expectations that are impossible for him to ignore. As the film progresses, Luna demonstrates a vulnerability in his character, who comes across as honest and never forced. He's a young man living in a bubble of his own creation that bursts as the climactic sexual encounter with Julio and Luisa forces him to unearth certain repressed sexual and emotional feelings he probably didn't even know he had.
Although some consider this film to be controversial for its straightforward depiction of sex and drug use, it is a film that must be watched to understand the depth of Luna's dedication to his craft.
2. The Terminal (2004)
Luna plays Enrique Cruz, a hopeless romantic who works for a gourmet food company at JFK International Airport. With a quirky air of innocence, Luna gives Enrique a charismatic personality that is contagious and difficult not to like. His scenes may be limited, but his potential is not as he gives a performance that complements Tom Hanks's impeccable acting. Luna brings the film several moments of comic relief that are important to the narrative. An ensemble piece such as this needs all of the characters to work in a cohesive manner, and Luna's Enrique does that and more.
3. Criminal (2004)
A forged bill and $750,000 on the line make for a slick drama as Luna takes on the role of inexperienced con artist Brian. With the help of John C. Reilly's Richard, Brian spends a day learning the ins and outs of the con game. Luna's nice-guy charm helps cancel out Reilly's asshole vibe, creating an Ocean's Eleven style role play between the two that makes sense, considering the film's screenplay was co-written by Steven Soderbergh. For a glimpse at what true con artists are capable of, check out Diego Luna in Criminal.
4. Casa De Mi Padre (2012)
With a final message that not all Mexicans are drug dealers and not all Americans are bad, Luna stars in this over-the-top comedy based on cheesy telenovelas and Westerns. Luna's character Raul is the successful son of a wealthy rancher, whose other son Armando Alvarez, played by the inimitable Will Ferrell, falls short on all levels of the Mexican ideals of manhood. With Raul, Luna commits 100 percent to the role and meets the rest of the cast halfway as their characters exchange ridiculous one-liners.
5. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
Set in 1958, on the eve of Fidel Castro's rebellion against the reigning Batista government, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights is a film that in no way tried to imitate the original, or remake it. It offers the story of Luna's Javier and Romola Garai's Katey, two teenagers on the cusp of adulthood who fall in love through dance.
Luna is pure magic in this film. Javier's sharp tongue and witty antics are a delight to watch as he teaches Katey how to feel comfortable in her own skin. Though the film has received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 22 percent from the critics, the audience seems to think better of the film, as it currently holds a 73 percent approval rating. For that reason, give this film a chance. Don't let Luna's 10 weeks of dance training for eight hours a day go to waste.
6. The Book Of Life (2014)
Luna voices the character Manolo, a young matador who can't bear to kill a bull. His sensitive portrayal of Manolo is endearing. While he is not a professional singer, Luna sings with a soft-spoken charm that you can't help but smile at. The film isn't trying to be a Disney masterpiece of amazing vocal skills, and that's what makes it refreshing. Through Manolo, Luna is able to tap into another level of his acting abilities that transcends the music realm. Besides, he covers Radiohead's "Creep" in a rendition that Thom Yorke would respect.
Check out the video below for Luna's version of "Creep."
7. Vampires: Los Muertos (2002)
In an early role, Luna is Sancho, an eager young man hoping to make a couple extra bucks to help his mother. At first glance, Sancho doesn't look capable of taking down any vampires, but give him a large wooden bō staff and he'll kill with a natural grace that surprises the seasoned vampire hunter Derek Bliss, played by Jon Bon Jovi.
Luna meshes well with Bon Jovi and even manages to demonstrate fear without being cheesy. This film was not directed by John Carpenter, but the auteur did produce it, which suggests he believed in its premise enough to slap his name on it. But don't let Carpenter's absence from the director's chair deter you from watching Luna as Sancho in Vampires: Los Muertos. Sometimes we have to see good actors in bad movies to understand how great they truly are.
For more Diego Luna, check out Mr. Pig, a film he wrote and directed, starring Danny Glover and Maya Rudolph.
Rogue One is in theaters on December 16. From the sneak peeks so far, what do you think of Diego Luna as Captain Cassian Andor? Let me know in the comments below.