For the first time in his career Mexican actor Diego Luna, who has been in successful Hollywood films such as “Milk” and “The Terminal,” takes on sci-fi in the futuristic blockbuster action thriller “Elysium,” which hits theaters on Friday.
Set in the year 2154, Elysium is the name of an idyllic, utopian man-made space station reserved only for the wealthy, while the poor live in a decaying, overpopulated Earth with Spanish-speaking inhabitants.
"I believe Elysium exists in every city, in every part of the world," Luna told Fox News Latino. "I’m doing this interview in Beverly Hills where people think they need all of this to be happy," he added.
In “Elysium” Luna plays Julio, a rebel trying to help Matt Damon’s character Max travel to the pristine space station, where he can get critically-needed medical care after being exposed to lethal amounts of radiation. Actress Jodie Foster plays Elysium’s Secretary of State, who will stop at nothing to enforce strict anti-immigration laws and keep the poor out.
Luna said parallels can be drawn between the fictional society in “Elysium” and this country's recent arguments for the need of comprehensive immigration reform.
"I hope it brings a debate on the gap of those who have and those who don't," said the actor.
In this post apocalyptic world of an extreme division of classes, the underprivileged are constantly seeking a better life in the utopian Elysium, with coyotes running an underground operation trying to help the doomed citizens on Earth land on the pristine space station. Luna says he hopes the movie strikes a chord with moviegoers.
"[It’s]a commercial [film] and a summer film that can bring entertainment and joy to the audience but [also] bring a debate and a reflection," Luna said.
The movie also hit home for Luna, as the scenes depicting a decaying Earth were shot in the capital city of his native Mexico. The actor said his country can also take a social cue from the film.
"We live in a country [Mexico] where there are a lot of necessities and lots of people are living in extreme poverty but at the same time we have the richest man on the planet," he said referring to Carlos Slim, who for several years was ranked by Forbes as the richest person in the world.
In fact, "Elysium"'s writer and director Neill Blomkamp said he was inspired to write the movie after spending a day in Tijuana, Mexico.
Luna said on set he underestimated Matt Damon´s knowledge of Spanish. "He knows a lot of Spanish so you have to be careful with what you say around him," joked Luna. After all, he is married to a Latina!
The 33-year-old actor will soon be making his English-language directorial debut in "Chavez" starring Michael Peña, America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson in a movie about chicano labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.
"It’s an amazing story, it's a story about a movement that always prioritized ideas and promoted non violence as the most important tool of fight[ing], that's an amazing thing to talk about when violence is everywhere," said Luna.
Chavez is currently in post production.
Naibe Reynoso is a freelance reporter from Los Angeles, California. Follow her @naibereynoso