From an early age Luna began acting in television, film, and theatre. Son of an English costume designer and Mexican set designer who is one of the most acclaimed living theatre, cinema, and opera set designers in Mexico. His first television role was in the 1991 movie El Último Fin de Año. His next role was in the telenovela El Abuelo y Yo (1992) alongside his childhood best friend, Gael García Bernal, in 1995 he played the role of Laura León’ troubled son Quique in the Mexican soap opera El premio mayor.
Luna had his big acting break in 2001 when he was cast in the critically acclaimed Y tu mamá también once again alongside García Bernal. Luna starred alongside Bon Jovi in Vampires: Los Muertos (2002) and the Academy Award-winning Frida (2002). He was also in the western Open Range, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Criminal and Steven Spielberg´s The Terminal. In 2008, he appeared in the Harvey Milk biopic Milk playing Milk’s unstable lover Jack Lira (along side Oscar winner Sean Penn)
In 2005 Luna and Gael García Bernal set up Canana Productions, a film and television company based in Mexico City and Los Angeles. It is here Diego Luna started directing.
In 2007 Diego directed a documentary movie about the legendary Mexican boxer Julio César Chávez. The film traces his humble beginnings as a pugilist, his glory years and the bitter end to his career. J.C. Chavez also captures the political history in Mexico during the time Chávez was World Champion and his interludes with those in power. The film was a success in various film festivals …Festival de Expresión en Corto, Guanajuato 2007, Best Documentary / Tribeca Film Festival, NY, 2007/ Latin Beat, Tokio, 2007/ Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Brazil, 2007 / Discovering Latin America Film Festival, London, 2007 / F! Fest, Istanbul, 2008. In 2008 Diego made his feature directorial debut with Abel. A script by Augusto Mendoza, with executive production from Gael Garcia Bernal and John Malkovich.
Abel is a heartbreaking tale about troubled identity and the healing power of compassion. The film is played by Christopher Ruiz-Esparaza, a young boy who after the abandonment of his father from the family home has fallen silent and been confined to a mental institute for two years. His mother, Cecilia, feels that a reunion with his siblings Paul and Seline will lead to an improvement in his behavior and speech.
Granted a week’s sabbatical by the doctor, Abel’s speech returns but only in the form of an adult – and the belief he is his own father, the same father who left home. Cecilia feels it is best to encourage such behavior, so Abel talks to his siblings as if they are his children, and Cecilia dotes on him like any loving wife would.
This leads to funny proceedings and exchanges between the much older Seline and the younger Abel, whilst there is a touching connection between Abel and Paul (played by real life brothers). The doctor comes and states it is okay to carry on, as long as he takes the requisite medication; that is until his father unexpectedly returns to the home. Abel does not recognise the father, believing himself to fit that role; tensions mount as a solution is looked for Abel’s condition.
This Oedipal story is told with great deftness and a lightness that marks Luna out as a genuine talent, and the use of the camera at a child’s level throughout in the family home and emphasising an adult’s presence with the use of low angle to show their height and threat.
Not surprisingly, considering he is a talented actor in his own right, Luna elicits commendable performances from all the cast especially Ruiz-Esparza in the titular role; who is both commanding and affecting. A film that is both intelligent and entertaining, continuing Latin America’s recent renaissance in the cinematic field.
In 2010 Diego directed an anthology film in which 10 different directors reflect on the legacy of the Mexican Revolution, is a marvel of short-form filmmaking. Working with a sketch-like narrative, and making expert use of Alejandro Cantú’s crisply evocative black-and-white camerawork, director Fernando Eimbcke transforms a dusty Mexican village into a world as tactile as it is ghostly. As a young man practices his tuba for an upcoming welcome ceremony that never happens, Eimbcke patiently frames his character in a series of perfectly balanced compositions, eerily flaring the lights of a nearby highway or lingering on the grit of a scrubby terrain, moving us unhurriedly toward the story’s modest but superbly satisfying payoff.
In 2011 Calle 13 teamed up with Diego Luna to film a video for their intense second single “Baile de los Pobres” off their latest album Entren los que quieren. The unlikely collaborators met through a mutual friend and immediately got along. They both very much respected each other’s work so they decided to work on a music video together.
Diego Luna (and Gael Garcia Bernal) are actors and filmmakers in a tidal wave of Mexican filmmaking that has creative minds and viewers alike entranced around the world.
Luna and Bernal are extremely passionate about film and documentaries and have created the documentary Festival Ambulante. Ambulante means something that is moving around, not stationary. A perfect reflection of what it is: a (traveling) film festival and tour expressly for documentaries. And people, who would not normally have access to documentaries, especially in the cinema, are showing up in droves.