Diego Calva Criticizes ‘Narcos: Mexico’ for Glorifying Drug Culture: ‘There’s a Lot of Lies’

"It's a little hard because the way they put the story of my country, I don’t agree at all," Calva said of the Netflix series.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 05: Diego Calva attends the 2022 LACMA ART+FILM GALA Presented By Gucci at Los Angeles County Museum of Art on November 05, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for LACMA)
Diego Calva
Getty Images for LACMA

Diego Calva is calling out his former show “Narcos: Mexico.”

Calva played real-life drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva in six episodes of the Netflix series but said the show was full of “lies” and historical inaccuracies. “Narcos: Mexico” was a three-season spin-off of “Narcos,” and starred Diego Luna and Michael Peña.

“There’s a moment in your career as an actor that you really can’t choose your roles,” Calva told GQ. “You are just grateful that you’re having a job, and ‘Narcos’ is a great show. But in my case, it’s a little hard because the way they put the story of my country, I don’t agree at all. There’s a lot of truth and that’s amazing, but there’s a lot of lies, too.”

Calva continued, “I think my country doesn’t need more narco culture and making these guys heroes.”

He recalled watching back the series and thinking, “‘This is too raw. I don’t know if I really want to keep shooting people.'”

Calva, who is now leading Damien Chazelle’s old Hollywood epic “Babylon,” summed up, “My dream is to be part of Latin American cinema always. My only fear right now is that maybe Latin directors are going to think, ‘That guy will never come back,’ and they are not going to call me.”

Calva previously told Variety that he spent over a year sending in self-tapes before being cast as the co-lead in “Babylon” alongside Margot Robbie.

“At the beginning of this year, everything changed. They called me to go do the in-person casting in California with Margot [Robbie] and Damien. I had been talking to Damien for several days, studying the character,” Calva said in 2021. “In particular, I focused on studying Al Pacino, which Damien recommended to me. I can only say that it’s a moment that I will always remember. As soon as he saw me, Damien played the ‘Godfather’ soundtrack to help me get into character.”

At the time, Calva looked back on his “Narcos: Mexico” stint as a “full-on learning experience” about diving into characters. “At the beginning I wanted to know the real character and find out who he really was. I read everything about him in the news, in books, everything,” Calva said. “However, I only learned about his actions, the things he did and the way he lived. Honestly, I did not find there what I needed to get inside his character. So I decided to humanize him, not understand him. People have many layers, many dimensions. I don’t mean to make a hero out of him but I won’t judge him either.”

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.