best wishes to a rising star, from Mexico to Babylonia

Today March 16 is the birthday of Diego Calva, promise of Mexican cinema and star of Babylon. Here’s an insight into his career!

Today, Thursday 16 March, the Mexican actor turns 31 Diego Calva, a new promise of Latin cinema, on which we advise you to keep your eyes peeled. Her career is now on the crest of a wave thanks to her co-starring role in the film Babylon, which consecrated him among the rising stars of the Hollywood industry, but Diego Calva’s origins lie in Mexican and South American cinema.

Diego Calva Hernández, this is his full name, was born in Mexico City into a family of artists; always stimulated to art and reading, already at 19 he published a collection of poems. The passion for the world of writing and his own imprinting with the creative sector they lead him to enroll in the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC), one of the most important film schools in Mexico, where he studies directing and screenwriting.

After a classic period of apprenticeship, in which he covered the most disparate professions, from waiter, to set designer up to production assistant, he finally made his debut as a screenwriter and director for some short films. However, he understands that he aspires to a more prominent role in front of the camera, attracted by the idea of ​​being able to play and identify with the roles that he himself wrote. He then began his career as an actor.

Te prometo anarquía, first feature film with Diego Calva

Johnny and Miguel in Te prometo anarquía

Johnny and Miguel in Te prometo anarquía

In 2015 Calva finally debuted on the big screen with his first leading role in the film I promise you anarchy. Directed by Julio Hernández Cordón, the then twenty-three-year-old actor plays Miguel, a young middle-class skater who finds himself involved in the trafficking of Mexican organized crime, mixing this criminal story with that of love, through the story of the purely sexual relationship with his best friend Johnny.

The film was highly appreciated by the critics both for its technical qualities, linked in particular to his photographic taste in filming the skateboard subculture, and for the themes covered, including homosexuality and above all illegal blood trafficking in the country. For his interpretation, Calva also won the Best Actor award at the Havana Film Festival, while the film was presented at important international festivals, from Locarno to Toronto.

ColOZio, his second major film

Manolo Caso, Orlando Miguel and Diego Calva in a scene from the film

Manolo Caso, Orlando Miguel and Diego Calva in a scene from the film

Despite playing other film roles in the five years that separate him from I promise you anarchyhis second really notable role comes in 2020 with ColOZio. Set in 1994, ColOZio tells of two unruly young people who, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, have a vision: they foresee the assassination of President Luis Donaldo Colosio within three days, and therefore embark on a journey from Mexico City to Tijuana to prevent it. Why should two young rebels risk such a daring enterprise? What do you say, for the good of the country? Absolutely not, and for them it is very clear: do you know how many luxuries and privileges are reserved for those who save the President?

The film is a sort of parody ofOdyssey of Homer: both heroes, Ulysses and the Diego-Gael couple make a journey, but while the Achaean king risks his life to return to Ithaca to his subjects and his wife Penelope, the two boys protagonists of ColOZio they simply want to win political favouritism, fame and success. Another interesting para-textual reference desired by the director Artemio Narro, and written directly in the title of the film, is directed to Wizard of Oz: Narro indeed said that “characters (from the Wizard of Oz) they could also be a gang of Mexicans. Nobody cares about helping Dorothy (…), everyone wants to go to Oz for personal gain”.

The television roles, from El Recluso to Narcos

Alberto Guerra as El Mayo and Diego Calva as Arturo Beltran Leyva in Narcos: México

Alberto Guerra as El Mayo and Diego Calva as Arturo Beltrán Leyva in Narcos: México

Diego Calva has also played various roles for television, starting from the series El Recluse of 2018, produced by Telemundo (US television network that distributes programs only in Spanish) and in which he appeared for 12 episodes as the secondary character of El Rubio. Another series that involved him is Desenfrenadas, a Netflix Mexico product released in 2020 for one season, in which Calva plays the recurring character of Joshua. The series is about a group of three friends about to go on a journey in search of themselves, when an unexpected fourth passenger joins them who will change all their plans.

Diego Calva in Narcos: Mexico

The role that most exposes him internationally, before his Hollywood debut, is that of the recurring character of Arturo Beltrán Leyva in the third season in Narcos: Mexico. The series was originally conceived as the fourth season of narcosbut eventually became one spin off of the same, focused on the drug trafficking of the Guadalajara Cartel. Calva took part in the third season, aired in 2021, playing the role of one of the four founding brothers of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel.

Babylon: the debut (and success) in Hollywood

Diego Calva in Babylon

Diego Calva in Babylon

The role that really launched him in the world of cinema, not only placing him in Hollywood, but also getting him the part of co-star in a film by the most ambitious director of recent years, Damien Chazelle, is certainly that of Manny Torres in Babylon. And although the three-hour film received many criticisms for its pomposity and excesses, the only element that really got everyone to agree was Diego Calva’s performance, which earned him nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes.

It was the first months of 2020 when Diego Calva saw the opportunity to join the cast of his first Hollywood film, Babylon to be precise, but the processing was immediately turbulent due to the onset of Covid-19. The castings took place from afar, as did the rehearsals and readings of the script, but the understanding with the director and with the protagonist Margot Robbie was immediate. Filming wrapped in October 2021, with the film theatrically released in January 2023.

Chazelle, speaking of Calva, in fact declared: “There was something dreamy about her eyes, something poetic. (…) He had a kind of Al Pacino ability, able to command the camera without appearing to do anything”. And it is precisely to Al Pacino’s (inimitable) acting style that Chazelle would have asked him to refer, assigning him many of his films to study, and even making him play the music of The Godfather early in filming to better fit the part.

Diego Calva is Manny Torres in Babylon

Diego Calva (Manny Torres) and Margot Robbie (Nellie LaRoy) in Babylon

Diego Calva (Manny Torres) and Margot Robbie (Nellie LaRoy) in Babylon

Babylon is a film that takes us to Hollywood in the late 1920s, when the tragic transition from silent to sound takes place, guilty of ruining the careers of many actors and filmmakers who for years had known a cinema made up mainly of silences, gestures and gazes. In the film, the star’s initially rosy career Jack Conrad (played by a Brad Pitt in great shape) and the sassy Nellie LaRoy (a very good Margot Robbie) are then engulfed by the whirlwind of excesses and fame, which spares only those who recognize their limits and who accept the change of trends in talking cinema.

So who is Manuel “Manny” Torres in the film, and above all, what does he represent? Well, Manny is an ambitious young man with Mexican roots who wants to be part ofof something bigger”, who believes in cinema and is willing to do anything to work with it. To all the sacrifices, to all the roles, to all the exploits of chance; but he is not willing to lose his integrity.

It is significant that his character, a Latino in an all-white industry, is the only one to save himself from the corrupt dynamics of Hollywood. Indeed, to be honest, Manny and trumpeter Sidney Palmer, the only African-American character in the film, are the only ones who, despite reaching the peak of their careers, finally manage to detach themselves from it. Calva explained: “It’s a role that as a Mexican is important“, and adds, “Mexican representation in period films in the United States is minimal, if any. I represent a Mexican with a story that is not out of this world at all, another story of Mexicans who leave, seek and, above all, make it.”.

Diego Calva’s future projects

Diego Calva, the new promise of Mexican cinema

Diego Calva, the new promise of Mexican cinema

It seems that the next projects Diego Calva is involved in are the Mexican drama film Bondedproduced by Yalitza Aparicio (Rome), actress with whom he will return to work in a Mexican series produced by Apple TV Plus entitled Familia de medianochebased on a 2019 documentary of the same name and which tells the story of a family who drives a private ambulance in Mexico City.

Calva, who after the role in Babylon he now says he is living a daydream, for his future he dreams even bigger. He hopes to be able to work with the Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, with the French Leos Carax or even with the Swede Ruben Östlund. Still, he wants to domany movies in spanish“, staying true to his roots, and playing the muralist Diego Rivera in his biopic.

If you want to know more about the actor Diego Calva, from curiosities to some small confessions, we leave you here the nice video 10 things Diego Calva can’t do without! See you soon, always on CiakClub.

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