Diego Boneta

Diego Boneta Says Chivalry Isn't Dead

The Father of the Bride star talks modern masculinity, working alongside Latinx legends, and bridging cultural divides.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Diego Boneta arrives at our L.A. outdoor shoot with blue jeans, an impeccably tucked-in white T-shirt, and a Rolex Submariner with a green "Hulk" bezel — a rare, five-figure watch that complements the surrounding orange trees. The way he reaches a hand to introduce himself with a big smile, he could be in an ad for the concept of keeping time itself: "Hi, I'm Diego."

When the camera starts shooting, he knows exactly what to do. A drop of the chin, an intense gaze, slowly peeling an orange. That's because Boneta, 31, started his career in Mexico City at the age of 12 with Código F.A.M.A., a Mexican children's reality TV show. He's shown a lot of range since then, having landed roles in iconic movies such as Terminator: Dark Fate, in which he played a key role opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger; popular television series such as Pretty Little Liars and Scream Queens, which blended camp, gore, comedy, and horror with castmates Nick Jonas and John Stamos; and, as he's also a singer, was even the opener for Hilary Duff on her 2006 Still Most Wanted Tour. All the while, he's balanced his English-language films with his Spanish-speaking ones.

Now, he's starring in a remake of one of the most popular American comedies of all time: Father of the Bride.

The first rendition premiered in 1950 with Elizabeth Taylor. Its '90s remake stars Diane Keaton and Steve Martin as an iconically stressed father whose pre-wedding agita was as relatable and sweet as it was cringe-y and hilarious. This remake follows the same plot — with a twist.

"Andy [Garcia] and Gloria Estefan's characters are getting a divorce, which is something new to this movie," Boneta says. "That and the fact that it's a Cuban-American and Mexican wedding." Adaptations of beloved movies often meet mixed reviews, but Boneta says it's this kind of iteration that makes a remake enticing.

"I love how it's a Hollywood movie that touches on two different Latin cultures and shows the similarities and differences between them, which I haven't seen before in a U.S. movie," he tells me. "Even though we speak Spanish, there are a lot of differences — ¿ya sabes?"

Diego Boneta
Emily Malan

Apart from being a story that touches upon Latinx cultures (Mexicans, for example, will recognize the mirreyes) and how their traditions are changing with a new generation, it also features an A-list Latinx cast. Adria Arjona (Puerto Rican) plays the bride, Garcia (Cuban) plays her father, and Estefan (also Cuban) plays her mother. Boneta rounds out a quartet of elite Latinx talent, and he says they meshed as well off-screen as they did on it.

"When we shot the wedding, it was a night shoot, and toward the end, we definitely had a bit of tequila, because we all had to be dancing and really wanted it to feel like a wedding," he shares, adding that he's the one who brought the tequila. "We all had a shot and boom — we killed the last wedding scene."

Another fresh twist in the movie is how the couple's relationship is portrayed. In the first two films, the bride and groom demonstrate more traditional gender roles, whereas in the update, the script is flipped. For starters, it's Arjona's character, Sofia, who proposes to Adan, Boneta's character. Sofia is a career-driven lawyer with an offer in Mexico and Adan tells her family he's happy to follow her wherever her job takes her.

"You have Andy's character, Billy, who's this traditional, more macho, alpha-male guy, versus Adan, who's more of a beta-male and represents this new take on masculinity," Boneta explains of the premise. "[There's] the old school versus new school take on masculinity. At the beginning, Andy's character and my character are complete opposites and then by the end of the movie, you find out two have more in common than what we thought."

While talking about this modern presentation of masculinity, Boneta's eyes light up and his hands become more enthusiastic — he's excited about portraying this type of man. When asked if he considers himself to be like his on-screen character, he agrees there are a few similarities. "I grew up in a family where we were all super open and talk about anything, so I'm very in touch with my emotions," he says. "And I have a lot of strong women in my life: my mom, my sister, my grandmother who's not with us anymore — they've definitely made me a better man."

And while he loves the idea of the beta-male, don't think for a moment that he's not a proper gentleman. "It's all about balance," he says when talking about relationship dynamics. "I like opening the door for women, not because they can't do it, pero por el cariño." And while he loves doing some of these old-school actions, he says modern-day masculinity is also about showing emotion and being vulnerable. As he said: balance.

This desire to be a gentleman and pay this special respect to women is something Boneta says he learned from watching his father growing up. "He'll stand up whenever she goes to the restroom when we're having dinner, he'll walk on the side of the street where the cars are coming, and he'll open the door for her," he explains. "He just loves my mom more than anything. I feel like they both put each other first — that's why they're such a great team."

He looks up to his parents and their relationship as much as he does to his native country, which is why Boneta strikes the perfect balance between working on American and Mexican projects, something he makes a conscious effort to do. Back home, he shot to stardom in 2018, when he starred in Netflix's Luis Miguel: The Series, in which he portrayed the Mexican icon for three seasons. Last year, he starred in and executive-produced Nuevo Orden (New Order), a dystopian thriller about clashing social classes in Mexico.

(He starred alongside my dear friend and former roommate, Naian González Norvind, making my eventual meeting with Diego this month feel overdue.)

"I want to be able to work in both worlds. There are amazing, talented people in Latin America and Mexico, and there are amazing people here, as well," he explains. "I speak both languages, I'm American and Mexican, and I want to be able to play around."

Plus, he points out that nowadays, a film doesn't have to be in a specific language to reach a wide audience. "People want to see the best quality show or movie they can regardless of the language," Boneta says. He has a point — Squid Game, a Korean Netflix show, pulled in 1.65 billion hours of viewing around the world within the first 28 days of its release. In 2020, Parasite became the first non-English language movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, and in 2019, Alfonso Cuarón's Roma got nominated for 10 Oscars. These are all testaments to the power of story versus the limitations of language.

Diego Boneta
Emily Malan

At heart, Boneta is a storyteller — whether that's through acting, producing, or singing (he has two pop albums — 2005's Diego and Índigo, which came out in 2007). It's this drive to tell stories and work alongside the best talent that inspired him to start his own production company, Three Amigos, that he founded alongside his younger sister Natalia and his manager and best friend, Josh Glick. Its first film, At Midnight, which he describes as a "rom-com, pop culture, fairy-tale love story," is set to be released this September.

Three Amigos is also a way for Diego to improve Latinx representation in American films. In a study of the top-grossing films from 2007 to 2019, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that only 7% featured a Latinx lead in 2019; 4% of the films had Latinx/Hispanic directors in that 13-year timeframe. According to UCLA's 2021 Hollywood Diversity Report, only 5.6% of film writers are Latinx. Three Amigos aims to change that.

When speaking about our shared experience of being from Mexico, moving to the U.S., and striving for representation in our fields, we realize that for both of us, the responsibility and drive to represent is something that grew on us with age.

"When I moved here, I wanted to work here in Hollywood, make it here, and do projects here — and it was all about speaking English with no accent and going to dialect coaches and stuff," he says. It was after working on Luis Miguel: The Series and Nuevo Orden that something changed within him. Now, he's even more determined to work with and give opportunities to Latinx talent to "be authentic and specific."

Diego Boneta
Emily Malan

In April, Three Amigos signed a deal with Amazon's Prime Video, through which Boneta and his team will produce movies, scripted series, and reality shows for the platform starting in 2023. "We can't wait for our customers to see what's in store from Diego and Three Amigos as we work to bring compelling new content to Prime Video's audiences across Mexico and all around the world," Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in the official statement.

Apart from At Midnight, Boneta shares that he's also working on projects with Humberto Hinojosa Ozcáriz and Daniel Krauze, who are, respectively, the director and writer of Luis Miguel: The Series. He's visibly excited about the future, smiling ear-to-ear when speaking about it, but for now, he's the most excited for the world to watch HBO Max's Father of the Bride, which premieres on June 16.

Read on to learn more about Boneta's favorite tequila, his dream project, and what he misses the most about Mexico City.

Emily Malan

Tell me about your dog.

Akila, I mean, she's my baby — she's my little baby girl. She's three years old and is a Belgian Shepherd. She's just the sweetest and the smartest. Her full name is Akila Cabrona, which is like Mexican slang — she's a little cabronsita.

How so?

She's a tough cookie, and she doesn't love other dogs. She's very protective.

Before living in L.A., you were in Mexico — do you ever miss it?

Yeah. I miss the city, the people, the food, the nightlife. Mexico City has an amazing nightlife. L.A. is more of a city to do stuff during the day.

Do you spend a lot of time there?

I spent a lot of time in Mexico City while we were shooting Luis Miguel, for like four-and-a-half years, five years. And yeah, it was great. It was cool, because that was like the first time in 10 years that I had spent that much time in Mexico City.

Diego Boneta Polaroids
Diego Boneta

When you agreed to this interview, you requested a reporter that spoke Spanish — why is that?

Well, first off, I feel that we should support each other within the business, within the industry. And I also like sharing those similar cultural backgrounds — it's great and it makes for a better interview. We have more fun.

¿Hay algo que quieras decir en español específicamente?

Lo orgulloso que me siento de ser mexicano y de poder representar a mi país.

¡Viva!

¡Eso! ¡Viva México cabrones! ¡Eso es lo que quiero decir!

You brought tequila to the set of Father of the Bride, and I saw you brought a bottle of tequila to a 2021 interview with Jimmy Fallon — is that your thing?

That's my thing!

What's your favorite tequila?

My favorite tequila is the one that I'm going to be coming out with soon in September. Yes. I can't talk too much about it yet, but I've been working on it for a couple of years, and I'm really, really, really excited about it.

That's so fun! So, you have that and Three Amigos now. What inspired you to start that?

I worked with Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages and saw how involved he was in producing and how passionate he was and all the projects he had, I was like, "That's my dream one day to be able to do" — I want to be able to produce and to create my own vehicles and be a part of a team from the very beginning.

Diego Boneta Polaroids
Diego Boneta

What's your dream project? If budget wasn't an issue and you could bring back people from the dead?

Oof — that's a great question. I mean, it would have to be a project with Marlon Brando. Like a two-hander or something where he plays my dad. Just the idea of just being in a scene with Brando would be unbelievable. I mean, there are so many people that I want to work with. I'd love to work with Javier Bardem, as well — I'm a huge Bardem fan. I'd also love to work again with Tom Cruise and do something together, like a big action movie, a two-hander with Tom would be unbelievable.

Have you seen Top Gun: Maverick?

Yes, I have. I loved it! Did you see it?

Oh yeah, the day it came out.

Yeah, me too. He's amazing, and I have a couple of friends in that movie as well, like Monica [Barbaro, pilot Natasha "Phoenix" Trace in the movie], who I just shot At Midnight with.

Is there anything else you want to share with InStyle right now?

That I'm excited for them to get to know me a little bit better through this interview and to check out more Three Amigos projects coming soon.

Photographs: Emily Malan, assisted by Keely DeLeon. Grooming: Kristen Shaw. Polaroids by Diego Boneta. Special thanks to Polaroid. Creative Director: Jenna Brillhart. Senior Visuals Editor: Kelly Chiello. Associate Photo Editor: Amanda Lauro. Social Direction: Danielle Fox. Video Director: Justine Manocherian. Executive Producer: Bree Green. Booking: Talent Connect.

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