How Luis Gerardo Méndez Gained 25 Pounds for ‘Narcos: Mexico’

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 effectively conscious of the crimes dedicated by drug cartels in his nation and skilled the resonating affect they’d on his neighborhood. So when he was provided a task within the ultimate season of the hit Netflix sequence, he leapt on the alternative.

“This season specifically hits near house,” says Méndez. Within the present, he performs Victor Tapia, a Juarez police officer within the ‘90s who begins to analyze the disappearance of an area teenage lady. Although the character is fictionalized, his storyline relies round the actual murders of numerous younger girls 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 doable.”

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 creating the ultimate season of Narcos: Mexico.

Courtesy of Netflix

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 taking part in Pablo Escobar. I used to be blown away by the extraordinary cinematography, and in addition thrilled to see a lot unbelievable Latin expertise in a manufacturing that acquired a lot help from the studio. It’s so thrilling for me now to having landed a task in a program that I respect a lot. The present is explosive and naturally has all this unbelievable filmmaking. Nevertheless it additionally touches on what was happening politically, socially, and economically—and nonetheless is.

Narcos: Mexico offers with subject material that is still very present. How acquainted had been you with these storylines?

This final season is about all of these headlines I bear in mind seeing on the information rising up in Mexico within the ‘90s—with politicians being killed and all these loopy issues that occuring. However with this present, even I get a deeper understanding of the entire parts 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 girls murdered in Juarez the place he’s stationed. That was an enormous story in Juarez again then—and, by the best way, it’s nonetheless taking place. Ten girls are killed in Mexico each day.

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 results of every little thing—together with the results of consuming. If you happen to’re smoking weed in California, you aren’t hurting anybody. However should you’re taking cocaine, you want to concentrate on what some individuals have completed to get that product there.

How did you first change into conscious of this function and that they wished you?

The producers of Narcos: Mexico known as me two years in the past to supply this main function within the ultimate season. After all, I used to be very excited after they advised me I’d be good for the character. I went house, celebrated with all my pals 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 seemed too match—like I had simply come again from a Pilates class.

They stated that I didn’t actually seem like 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 burden on.

Their response?

They stated, “Are you certain?” Sure, I used to be certain. 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.

Dark closeup of Narcos: Mexico actor Luis Gerardo Méndez sitting in his cop car at night
Courtesy of Netflix

How did you go about placing on the burden?

I knew that I wished skilled assist gaining the burden. I wasn’t trying to destroy my physique, and spoke to a few nutritionists and trainers to first get as a lot info as doable. Then I began consuming someplace round 7,000 or 8,000 energy a day—a bit greater than my normal 2,000. It was a number of meals. At first it’s kind 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 often eat. I used to be additionally ingesting these 2,000 calorie shakes between meals.

After all, after I signed on I assumed I’d 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 every little thing I may get my arms on. I often take excellent care of myself, in order that was a extremely attention-grabbing and difficult expertise—seeeing what that form of weight and consistently consuming can do to your psyche. So far as my character, I wished to ensure that I may painting the burden 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 individuals round and will get a fair proportion of motion. Past caloric consumption, what sort of bodily coaching did you do?

I put myself by a fairly critical coaching program as a result of it was about placing on as a lot mass as doable. This cop isn’t just a few slob. He’s a tricky man who’s capable of deal with himself as effectively, and has a number of extra kilos to get the job completed. A number of years again, I did a boxing film the place I actually realized the right way to throw a correct punch. This time I used to be doing it with a distinct form of physique, so there have been changes that I wanted to make.

Did you do any technical coaching in ways whereas getting ready to play a police officer?

There’s an enormous safety crew that’s at all times with us on the set. As a result of we’re surrounded by consultants, former navy, and safety personnel, they had been capable of train us the right way to shoot weapons, bazookas, and every little thing 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 suggestions too.

As soon as you bought the physicality proper, how did you analysis your character?

Each character requires a distinct form of investigation, however these days 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 research them, learn the way they assume, transfer and communicate. That’s what I did for this sequence. I went to Juarez with some pals to seek out this individual—and I finally 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 grasp the motivations he had throughout these days and be taught from his personal experiences. For instance, there have been occasions 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 completed 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 specific one.

Along with this character, I used to be capable of carry a few of my father’s life into the function as effectively. He was a physician who labored with the police division after I was rising up.

Have 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 wanting 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 occasions the place he was compelled to go over the road as effectively—like going into cells to beat individuals in the event that they had been misbehaving.

One time, he advised 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 a sophisticated time. You wanted to know the right way to deal with your self with out getting killed.

Narcos: Mexico actor Luis Gerardo Méndez

Juarez officer Tapia (Méndez) squaring off with DEA agent Breslin (Scoot McNairy) on the border. “We even have the identical performing coach,” says Méndez.
Courtesy of Netflix

You share an ideal 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 improbable actor. I bear in mind being so impressed as effectively together with his work in Argo. We didn’t get to have too many scenes collectively, however that first one is vital. These two guys are in regulation enforcement throughout the border from one another—certainly one of 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 traces collectively. We even have the identical performing coach, so there are some similarities in our course of.

Not solely do we now have large actors this season, we even have unbelievable administrators. One among them being Wagner Moura—who everybody is aware of from his function as Pablo Escobar within the Colombia seasons.

Moura additionally went by a physique change to placed on weight. Have been you capable of talk about that in any respect?

I bear in mind once we met on set—with the masks on and every little thing. He came to visit and gave me a hug. I may see it in his eyes. He simply stated, “Dude, I really feel for you.” He advised me it was going to be a ache within the ass to do away with it too. He additionally advised me that I used to be by no means going to wish to undergo it once more.

Was he proper?

I’ve to say that to this point I’d agree. I don’t assume I’m ever going to wish to put my physique by 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 regimen to lose the burden. What’s been your personal course of?

The very first thing I attempted was a keto food regimen, and that actually didn’t work for me in any respect. I realized quite a bit throughout this course of—primarily that that you must discover what works for you. Not each food regimen out there may be going to provide the proper outcomes. I additionally tried intermittent fasting, which additionally didn’t work as a result of I’m a really lively individual. I’m at all times filming one thing, producing one thing, and working my mezcal model Ojo de Tigre.

I ended up going about it the great distance—counting energy and macros. I paired a dialed down food regimen with high-intensity coaching, cardio, and a number of lengthy runs in Venice the place I dwell 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 individuals truly communicate 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 get pleasure from performing in English as effectively, nevertheless it’s a totally completely different universe. On the finish of a protracted 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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