Netflix has produced some of the most successful films and television series within the past few years, all with their own massive cult followings. One of their most beloved shows is the Narcos series, based on real-life historical events surrounding the booming drug trade and its kingpins in South America during the 1980s. Its companion television show Narcos: Mexico is also a fan-favorite for its strong writing, fleshed-out characters, and impressive casting. Well-known actor, Michael Pena, stars in the first season of this show and impressed audiences with his stellar portrayal of real-life agent Kiki Camarena.
If you’re curious to find out how Pena landed this role, keep on reading!
Who Is Michael Pena?
Michael Pena is a 45-year-old American actor from Chicago, Illinois. He has been active in the film industry since 1994, featuring in numerous television shows and movies. He had worked on various independent film productions until he landed breakthrough roles in the Oscar-winning films Million Dollar Baby and Crash in 2004.
His work in both films was fantastic, earning praise from critics across the board. He received acclaim and recognition for his emotional performance in the latter film.
The talented actor worked on the Golden Globe-winning television series The Shield in 2005. He then starred in Walkout the next year as the L.A. high school teacher who encouraged his Chicano students to protest for their rights.
Pena starred in the titular role in César Chávez in 2012. He also performed in Fury in 2014, as well as Ant-Man and The Martian in 2015. With dozens of titles on his resume, Pena is a fantastic actor that has received praise from critics for nearly every character he has played. In 2017, he landed the role of Kiki Camarena for Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico.
This popular crime drama television show premiered on Netflix in 2018. It was initially planned as the fourth season of Netflix’s original Narcos series. However, the writers and producers felt that the storyline and characters had a lot of potential and room for growth.
It was soon developed into its own story and delivered as a companion series. The first Narcos show focused on the Colombian drug trade. This one followed the history of Mexico’s own involvement and development in the illegal drug trade.
This show follows the early beginnings of their drug war as independent marijuana farmers and sellers. It also explores the formation and rise of the Guadalajara Cartel during the 1980s.
The main characters focus on the cartel leaders as well as the courageous DEA agents sent in to investigate them. Mexico’s drug trade was still in its initial stages. So the agents had no idea what kind of trouble and danger they would be getting involved in.
Pena starred in the lead role as the famous DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Salazar, sharing his story and bravery with the world. Kiki was vital to the government’s investigations during the cartel’s forming. However, Pena is only featured in the first season because the agent was killed.
How Michael Pena Got His Role in Narcos
Even before Narcos: Mexico had even started casting, Michael Pena was brought in as a cast member. The showrunner and executive producer, Eric Newman, had contacted Pena three or four years before the show’s development. Newman called Pena and told him about the plan for the fourth season of Narcos. He informed Pena that it would be based in Mexico, and focus on Kiki.
He pitched the storyline to the actor, explaining what the agent went through during his investigation and his contribution to the war on drugs, and asked whether he would be interested in playing this role in the future.
Michael Pena was thrilled with the proposal and excited to join the team, obviously agreeing to the job. As it was years ahead of schedule, it took some time until the show actually began production, and he was officially hired.
It was about a year and a half after the first phone call that Newman contacted Pena again. This time, Newman let him know that they would now be turning it into its own series on Netflix.
Pena didn’t even have to audition for the role. The writers and producers were so familiar with his acting skills that they personally asked him to join their team!\
Michael Pena has starred in countless movies and television shows. We doubt that you could find someone who can’t recognize his face! He has been featured in Oscar and Golden Globe-winning movies, has worked alongside big stars like Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, and has been nominated for various awards throughout his prolific career.
Critics and fans everywhere recognize him for his talent and appreciate every role he plays. Although we are sad that he won’t be featuring in any more Narcos: Mexico episodes, we are excited to follow his career and see what he puts out next!