Interview: JanLuis Castellanos Previews Diego in ‘13 Reasons Why’ Final Season – Exclusive
JanLuis Castellanos is set to become the next breakout star of Netflix. As the final season of the hit drama series 13 Reasons Why begins streaming, fans will be introduced to Diego Torres. Described as both charming and aggressive, Diego struggles with loyalty and his emotions on his own journey for justice and answers.
We spoke with JanLuis Castellanos about what viewers can expect from Diego, joining the cast of 13 Reasons Why in the final season, the unanswered questions and secrets surrounding Monty, and the journey for fans of the show as it reaches a conclusive ending.
Read on for our exclusive interview with JanLuis Castellanos:
You are set to appear in the final season of 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. Can you talk a little about your role and what initially attracted you to this project?
It all happened so fast. I was looking for the next thing and this [role] just happened to come out of nowhere and swooped right in. Diego Torres; he’s pretty nice and charming. Maybe a little bit aggressive but he is loyal and he is definitely a leader with the football team. He has been struggling with the loss of one of their own. He has a lot of different emotions. When it comes to kids in high school, we tend to not think logically. We let our emotions blindside us. I think that he finds himself stuck between two worlds and wondering who he can trust.
Were you a fan of the previous seasons beforehand?
It’s so funny that you say that. When I initially wanted to be an actor, I was already watching the show before I even thought I wanted to be one. When this came out in 2017, I didn’t even know I wanted to act and I loved the show.
How was the experience working with the cast? Were you nervous at all about joining an already established series or was everyone pretty welcoming?
I was so nervous. I can’t even explain it. It was very thrilling and very exciting. It was an eccentric feeling. I met the entire cast and everyone was so welcoming. Comparing it to the show, it’s really intense. But then you go behind the scenes and it’s very bright. It’s a great environment. A person doesn’t walk by that doesn’t ask you how your day is going. It makes you feel at home. It was really nice to work with such great talent. Dylan Minnette, Brandon Flynn, Alisha Boe, all these great people. They’re the best cast and crew that I’ve been with thus far.
Monty being framed for Bryce’s murder is a big theme going in to the final season. Can you talk a little about Diego’s motivation for his own search for justice in these upcoming episodes?
I think Diego’s motivation is… he’s getting a sense that someone is lying. Someone is not telling the truth. Like Clay. [laughs] Clay Jensen, his character has said before the truth will always come out. Diego and Winston are both seeking similar truth.
Yeah, there’s a lot of liars on this show. A lot of secrets.[laughs] Yeah, I think that’s what high school is about. Especially in 13 Reasons Why. I feel like it’s a game of “Oh man, who can I trust the most?” Even though it is a fictional series, they do touch on some mature content.
Diego is described as having a bit of a temper and on this show that can get you into some sticky situations. What can we expect of Diego handling himself amongst the other students during such a tense time?
At the end of the day it comes down to loyalty and Diego is fiercely loyal. He tends to be very intense but I think every character is intense in their own way. Diego just happens to be involved with the football team and the jocks and the athletes, so I think he comes off in that jock aggressive way. But I think that it’s the degree and level of the issues that he may be dealing with.
I’m getting the impression that Diego may get a little conflicted with his feelings and with so many characters harboring their own secrets, how would you say Diego’s relationships with the others complicates things for him?
I would say that’s when you see him getting stuck between two worlds. Does he go talk to his homies or does he follow his emotional feelings of the heart when it comes to love and romance?
What else can you tease about what viewers can expect from the final season? What would you say to get them to tune in?
A lot of questions have been unanswered and I think this is the time where we dive in to a more conclusive side of the story. Every beautiful story, no matter how dark or bright, it needs an ending. High school is the 4 years of 13 Reasons Why. It is the final year, so truthfully it’s a lot like a senior year of high school with everything going on, with graduation and parties. These characters are graduating and moving on and so are the fans. It’s nice to talk about the memories that we made and the friendships that we forged. I think it’s time to let go of the negative things of the past and hold on to the good so we can move on to the future. I think that’s what we’re focusing on in this final season.
You are also set to star in Don’t Look Deeper, a sci-fi drama series co-written by Jeffrey Lieber, who previously worked on LOST. How was that experience for you?
Don’t Look Deeper was really fun. That came after Marvel’s Runaways. I’m fairly new to the industry and my motto is be the hardest worker in the room and I kind of strive to that. Walking in to Don’t Look Deeper, I remember going in to the audition, the process was quite frightening. It’s directed by Catherine Hardwicke. She’s worked with some great talent. I was pretty intimidated to be taking direction from her. It all worked out for the best. I walked into the room pretty motivated and decided to give her my all.
When I was on set I got to work with people like Don Cheadle, Emily Mortimer, Helena Howard; shes also a newcomer on the rise. She’s such a talented person it’s unreal. So it was beautiful for me to feed off her talent so that was really nice. For me Don’t Look Deeper was almost like a masterclass. Just being on set working with the director and all these great talents for me, was something I could grab onto and bring to 13 Reasons Why. I think I went from Don’t Look Deeper to 13 Reasons Why in 10 days. I didn’t have much downtime.
Sounds like back to back amazing opportunities. What a great way to start your career.
I loved every single minute of it. It’s been a wild roller coaster. I can’t say that I haven’t had my fair share of “no’s”. You gotta go all in and do the dirty work. You gotta work on the craft and take the hits.
We all have been spending a little more time at home lately during the COVID-19 pandemic. What have been some of your favorite ways to pass the time?
I’ve been able to touch back in to my “little kid abilities”. Playing video games and stuff like that. [laughs] Playing charades with the family and just having a good time. There are so many things right now that we can’t really worry about when it comes to work. There’s not much we can do, a lot of things are out of our hands. I’ve been keeping to my routine but just making sure that I keep myself happy any way that I possibly can. Whether that’s reading a book or exercising or meditating. Whatever makes you happy. Spending a lot of alone time has been helping me with my craft. If you are an artist, spend some time with yourself and follow your passion. Whatever that may be. It’s a great time to be creative.
Thank you so much to JanLuis Castellanos for taking the time to chat with us!
Be sure to check out 13 Reasons Why streaming on Netflix beginning June 5th!
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.