Movie List

10 Best Mexican American Male Actors

September 1, 2018
12 min read

Hollywood is known for its respect for diversity, versatility, and talent, which allows actors from overseas nations to try their hand in the industry, getting equal opportunities to prove their mark and stand along-side greatest actors of the world. For years Hollywood has introduced various actors from Mexican descent in different entertainment genres. Starting from portraying Hispanic characters, these Mexican males have turned into stars and today share the same international acclaim as other American actors. As the number of Mexican aspiring actors grow in Hollywood, we take a look at the list of top Mexican actors working or have worked in the industry today. Though Hispanic refers to different Latin descents including Spanish, Puerto Rican, and Cuban, this list comprises of only Mexican actors or the American actors who hail from direct Mexican actors:

10. Ryan Guzman

Born to a Mexican father, Guzman’s acting skills have improved as his profound dancing skills since he made his debut in 2012 in dance-film ‘Step-Up: Revolution.’ His stint in ‘Step Up: Revolution’ earned him a recurring guest role in ‘Pretty Little Liars.’ After reprising his role in the fifth instalment of ‘Step-Up’ in 2015, that is, ‘Step-Up: All-In’, Guzman was cast as Carlos Gutierrez/El Vengador in ‘Heroes Reborn’ (2015) and as Ryan Millis in ‘Notorious’ (2016). Both the series was cancelled after one season. However, Guzman entered mainstream cinema with his stint in box-office failure ‘The Boy Next Door’ (2015) wherein he starred opposite Jennifer Lopez, and acclaimed director Richard Linklater‘s ‘Everybody Wants Some’ (2016), which remains his most critically successful film till date. Guzman’s supporting role in ‘Everybody Wants Some’ was well received by critics and helped him showcase his potential on-screen. Going ahead in the career, he recently joined the star cast of Fox drama ‘9-1-1‘ (2018).

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9. Gabriel Luna

Born in Texas, US, Luna was raised under Mexican parentage, thus taking his roots back to Mexican descent. Luna starred in 2014 in the lead-in short-lived series ‘Matador’ and appeared in critically acclaimed television series ‘True Detective‘ (2015). After starring in some fairly famous roles, Gabriel Luna’s biggest success to date came when he starred in ABC television series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D as Robbie Reyes, a version of the infamous Marvel anti-hero Ghost Rider. His character became the cynosure of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ promos and PR stunts, which resulted in record pilot ratings of the show till date. His performance earned him a Teen Choice nomination for Best Actor in the Action category. Gabriel Luna is all set to make his big-budget appearance alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Terminator 6‘ (2019).

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8. Dany Trejo

Dany Trejo is probably best known for his slasher-punk cum action-thriller film ‘Machete’ (2010). However, his first stint was way more interesting than probably any of the actors in the industry. Trejo’s first role was of an extra in ‘Runaway Train’ (1985), a role he landed due to a sudden confrontation with his ex-cellmate on the film’s set, who happened to be the writer of the film. Cellmate? Yes. Before his rendezvous in films, Trejo was convicted of multiple offences and did plenty of jail time. There he met ‘Runaway Train’s writer Edward Bunker, and shared a cell with him.

Years later, Trejo met Edward on the film’s set and was hired as a boxing trainer to train Eric Roberts on the set. From there on, Trejo has starred in multiple action hits such as ‘Desperado’ (1995), ‘XXX’ (2002), and Con Air (1997). In 1995 film ‘Heat’, he went on to share the screen with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. After ‘Machete,’ Trejo has earned lasting fame among action-thriller lovers. At 74, Trejo continues to entertain the audience with his unique style and charisma and has a list of ventures in the future lined up for him. Most recently, he has been added to the cast of CW series ‘The Flash’ for its fourth season.

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7. Eugenio Derbez

Starting with television roles, Eugenio Derbez has risen to prominence in Mexican film industry and has also made a name for himself in Hollywood. Derbez started his career in Mexican television and appeared in episodic or guest roles. Derbez turned to comedy in 1987 when he got his first breakthrough in comedy/variety series Anabel. While Derbez stayed with the show for its initial years, Anabel became one of the most successful shows on Mexican television of all time. Derbez went on to voice the characters of Donkey in ‘Shrek’ and Mushu in ‘Mulan,’ in the films’ Spanish versions. After starring in multiple films in Mexico, Derbez gained international acclaim for his film ‘Instructions Not Included’ (2014), which he also directed, wrote, and produced. The film became the highest-grossing Spanish-language film in the United States and made Derbez a Hollywood star. His success led him to get his star at Hollywood Walk of Fame. Since then, Derbez has appeared in and shot for multiple American films such as, ‘Geostorm’ (2017), ‘How to be a Latin Lover’ (2017), and Overboard (2017). With three more of his upcoming American films releasing this year, Derbez is racing for international acclaim through Hollywood.

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6. Louis C.K.

Actor, writer, director, producer, showrunner, and stand-up comedian, Louis C.K. is a man with all talents an artist could presumably possess. Inspired by the works of his idol, comedian George Carlin, C.K. began his career at a young age of 17, by directing his first short during his days of under-graduation in New York. He then went on to try his hand in stand-up comedy in open mic in which he failed drastically in initial years. He then turned to show-writing for famous variety and talk shows in the early 1990s including shows of David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Dana Carvey, and Chris Rock. He gained international acclaim in writing as these shows earned him three Emmy nominations winning in 1999.

C.K. turned to mainstream filmmaking, directing, and acting in the new decade and turned his career into immense success and fame. From 2000-2009, C.K. directed and wrote films, plays, sitcom pilots, created his own shows, made comedy sketches, and became a prominent television personality. His first significant success during this time came with ‘Lucky Louie’ (2006), a show he created, wrote, and starred in, as well as his standup special ‘Chewed up’ (2008), which earned him another Emmy nomination. In 2009., he was cast in hit sitcom ‘Parks and Recreation‘ (2009), which he was attached to up until 2012. After multiple appearances in films, television, and sketches, C.K. added up to his achievements with his latest creation, ‘Louie’ a television show he created, wrote, directed, edited, produced, and starred in, and earned consecutive Emmy nominations from 2011-2015.

During this time C.K. also appeared in Academy-Award nominated films, ‘American Hustle,’ Blue Jasmine‘, and ‘Trumbo.’ In the recent wake against sexual misconduct in Hollywood, C.K.’s career achievements have been massively overshadowed due to his involvement in some similar cases of misconduct and harassment against women, and his shows have been struggling to get a permanent distributor. However, his deal with FX Television to direct different pilots for the channel has sustained his career losses during this period, still upholding his position as a prominent comedy-writer in the American television industry.

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5. Demián Bichir

Probably the finest, but most underrated actors hailing from Mexico, Demian Bichir is one of the most acclaimed Mexican actors in the list, known in the US for his performance in ‘A Better Life’ (2011). A major box-office flop and a significant critical success, ‘A Better Life’even earned Bichir an Academy Award for Best Actor. Before his Academy-nominated stint, Bichir has mainly performed in Mexican television and films, only having his role of Fidel Castro in ‘Che’ (2008) as his second achievement. However, tides turned after ‘A Better Life,’ and Bichir began acting in mainstream Hollywood movies, appearing in Quentin Tarantino‘s ‘The Hateful Eight’ (2015) and Ridley Scott‘s ‘Alien: Covenant’ (2017). After establishing a successful name in Hollywood, Bichir is regularly taking on important roles in big films, two of which are set to release soon. Bichir is confirmed to appear in ‘The Nun’ (2018), which is a Blumhouse’s horror anthology film, while his 2019 film ‘Chaos Walking’ is to star Tom Holland and is produced by Robert Zemeckis.

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4. Diego Luna

While Diego Luna has been a famous name as a producer of Canana Films (jointly owned by Bernal), his success as an actor did not come until most recently in the American or Mexican film industry. Diego began his career with television in the early 90s and then entered films in 1999. In 2002, Luna co-starred with Bernal in miniseries ‘Fidel’, leading him to the United States. In the 2000s, Luna appeared in multiple commercial films including Tom Hanks-starrer ‘The Terminal‘ (2004), ‘Criminal’ (2004), and ‘Milk’ (2008), the latter earning him a shared Critics’ Choice Award for Best Ensemble. Diego Luna also earned praise for playing an imposter Michael Jackson in 2007 film ‘Mister Lonely’ in 2014 Luna also turned director with ‘César Chávez’ starring fellow actor Michael Peña in the lead. Luna’s biggest success to date has been his starring role in ‘Rouge One’ (2016), a Star Wars anthology film opposite Felicity Jones. Luna’s performance was widely applauded and was subsequently accepted with love by the massive fan base of Star Wars series. And it looks like his hard work has finally paid off, as he is set to go face to face with Michael Peña in Netflix’s fourth season of ‘Narcos,’ playing drug mafia Félix Gallardo.

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3.  Michael Peña

Michael Peña has been international fame for a long time now. Though an American citizen, Peña is actually from Mexican descent and started his film career playing a minor role in 1996 film ‘My Fellow Americans.’ Peña continued to star in minor roles in different independent dramas for a large part of his career. He even appeared in 2000 action-thriller heist film, ‘Gone In 60 Seconds’ starring Nicolas Cage. However, Peña’s breakthrough came in the year 2004 when he signed for playing a minor supporting character in Clint Eastwood’s ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ He appeared in a more prominent role in Paul Haggis’s ‘Crash’ the following year, which brought him to major limelight in the industry. Both the films won Best Picture at Oscars, and since then Peña has made his mark into Hollywood through his multi-genre roles in films like, ‘World Trade Centre’ (2006), ‘End of Watch’ (2012), and most recently ‘Ant-Man’ (2015). He has further gained critical acclaim for his role in ‘Fury’ (2014). Experiencing a new success and growth, Peña has been cast in the upcoming season of Narcos in the lead role of Agent Kiki Camarena. After 20 years of struggle, the 42-yr old actor is all set to break loose in Hollywood.

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2. Gael García Bernal

Born into a Mexican family to an actress mother and a director father, Bernal was in front of the camera from very early in his life. After achieving significant success in recurring roles in Mexican television soap operas, Bernal was cast by Alejandro González Iñárritu in his 2000 film ‘Amores Perros.’ Two years later in 2002, he starred in ‘The Crime of Father Amaro’ which broke multiple records and established Bernal’s career in Mexican and Spanish film industries. However, Bernal received international acclaim and success in 2004 when he played a young, 23-yr old Che Guevara in acclaimed film ‘The Motorcycle Diaries.’ ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ earned him a nomination for Best Actor at BAFTA and made him an overnight star. Bernal has since then impressed the audience with his charm and charisma through his profound acting appearances in different films, including Academy-Award nominated, ‘Babel’ (2006). More recently, Bernal has gained back his international fame through his television series, ‘Mozart In the Jungle,’ which also won him Golden Globe for Best Actor, his career’s first international film award.

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1. Anthony Quinn

Late Anthony Quinn was a legend of Mexican cinema, and was and was the first actor from Mexico to be nominated for an Academy Award., and till date, the only one to win one. Quinn began working in films in the early-age of modern cinema and got his first role in 1936, which went uncredited in the movie. While moving his way up in the film industry in both Mexico and the US, Quin accepted and did all kinds of role, mostly of heroic or villainous action side-characters, such as mafia mobsters, gangsters, rebels, guerrillas, and other gangsters. Though he appeared in multiple films every year, Quin wasn’t able to earn limelight until 1952, when he was signed to play the second lead in ‘Viva Zapata!’, which won him his first Academy Award in Best Supporting Actor Category.

In ‘Viva Zapata,’ Quinn shared the screen with Marlon Brando, who was then a star in the making. Quinn’s success then never thwarted as he won another Oscar with two additional nominations, as well as nominations for Golden Globe and a BAFTA, in next 14 years. His major film roles this while included Paul Gaugin ‘Lust for Life’ (1956), Gino in ‘Wild is the Wind,’ and Alexis Zorba in ‘Zorba the Greek’. Quinn once said that he wishes to play mafia Paul Castellano, a dream which partially came true in 1996 film, ‘Gotti,’ where he played Aniello Dellacroce. Died in 2001, Quinn is the lasting Mexican legend, whose immense talent as an actor and mentor remains an inspiration for the present-day actors.

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