By the time director Alfonso Cuarón's Y Tu Mamá También took stateside arthouse theaters by storm in the early months of 2002, actor Diego Luna had been a fixture of Mexican film and television for nearly a decade. Though his breakout success could only be hinted at when he appeared in director Julian Schnabel's critically acclaimed drama Before Night Falls the previous year, it was his turn as a naïve, sex-starved teen in Cuarón's coming-of-age comedy drama that catapulted him to international stardom.
A native of Mexico City whose mother died in a car accident when he was a mere two years old, Diego Luna was left to be raised by his father, Alejandro -- widely renowned as one of Mexico's most talented set designers. The draw of the entertainment industry, to which his father's work exposed him, proved too irresistible for the talented aspiring actor, and before long, Luna was refining his skills on both stage and screen. Following his debut in the 1991 short film El Último Fin de Año (The Last New Year), Luna appeared opposite childhood pal Gael García Bernal in the popular television soap opera El Abuelo y Yo (1992). His star quickly rising, Luna was soon noticed by casting directors, and in 1996, he took the lead for the musical drama El Cometa and the thriller Un Dulce Olor a Muerte (both 1999). To those who saw the films, it was obvious that the young star had leading-man talent, though it was a partnership with longtime friend Bernal that truly sparked both actors' careers.
Y Tu Mamá También was released in Mexico in June of 2001 to huge box-office success, and it didn't take the rest of the world long to wonder what all of the fuss was about. Alternately funny, moving, sad, and affecting, the story of two hormone-fueled friends (Luna and Bernal) who hit the road with a sexy free spirit (Maribel Verdú) drew controversy for its overt sexuality. But those willing to look past that aspect were treated to a touching tale of friendship, loss, and the importance of living every moment of life to its fullest. With international offers subsequently flooding his doorstep, Luna remained in Mexico for a trio of films before accepting supporting roles in Frida and Vampires: Los Muertos in 2002. His status as an international star was confirmed when director Kevin Costner cast Luna in the 2003 Western Open Range. Following high-profile roles in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and Criminal (both 2004) the young star stepped before the camera for none other than Steven Spielberg for the 2004 drama The Terminal, which was inspired by the true-life tale of Iranian refugee Merhan Karimi Nasseri. He worked steadily, reteaming with Bernal in 2008 for the soccer drama Rudo y Cursi. That same year he was a producer on the well-reviewed Sin Nombre, and appeared as one of Harvey Milk's lovers in the award-winning biopic by director Gus Van Sant. In 2012 he had a small part in the thriller Contraband, and had a major part, again alongside Bernal, in the Will Ferrell Spanish-language comedy Casa de mi Padre. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi