’13 Reasons Why’ fans, meet Diego. HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Jan Luis Castellanos, who plays the new character, about Diego’s arc in the final season, Diego’s search for the truth, and more.
There’s a new character walking the halls of Liberty High in the final season of 13 Reasons Why. Jan Luis Castellanos has joined the show for the final season as Diego, one of Liberty High’s hot-shot football players and Monty’s former teammate. Like Winston, Diego wants to know the truth about Monty’s involvement in Bryce’s death.
HollywoodLife talked with Jan Luis ahead of the final season’s debut on June 5. The actor previewed that Diego’s arc is a “roller coaster full of emotions,” and he’ll be dealing with a lot of “rage.” He also teased Diego’s quest for answers, a possible romance, and revealed his thoughts on how the show ends.
What stood about the character of Diego that made you want to go for that role?
Jan Luis Castellanos: I think it was the groundedness of the character. To bring this character to life, I had to go back to my own high school traits and habits when it came to being an athlete, or possibly a meathead, or whatever, and then add my 13 Reasons Why story to it as well. Diego was like a personal character to me. The story is so grounded and so real yet it’s fictional.
What can you tease about Diego’s arc this season?
Jan Luis Castellanos: Diego’s nice, I promise. He’s nice. He means well. We all have our differences as characters. With 13 Reasons Why it’s like a game of who can I trust? His storyline is like a rollercoaster full of emotions. When it comes to high school, these kids are blinded by all this emotion as opposed to thinking logically. Diego deals with rage, especially being a football player. He doesn’t mind being a loyal leader or beating somebody up. He’s a really aggressive kid, but he does have his reasoning behind his actions.
Diego is one of Monty’s teammates. How would you say that he is dealing with that sudden death of his teammate and friend?
Jan Luis Castellanos: I think for Diego, it’s like he lost a brother. So for him, there are still some questions that haven’t been yet answered. He wants the truth. He’s not an idiot. He’s actually pretty smart and mysterious at the same time, so he’s looking for something. He’s looking for the truth. As Clay Jensen always says, the truth will always come out.
In the trailer, we see Diego and Winston interacting, and they both want answers about Monty. What can you say about their dynamic?
Jan Luis Castellanos: They do ultimately want to seek the same truth, I guess you’d say. They’re looking for the same answers. They both had a connection with Monty. One was like a brother to him and the other one was more than a friend. That’s where they kind of team-up.
Will Diego experience any romance this season?
Jan Luis Castellanos: This is where Diego gets caught between two worlds. Does he go ahead and be the loyal leader with a divided football team that’s struggling to understand the loss one of their own and fight for them? Or does he lean towards his emotional, grieving heart filled with love right now? Those are the questions that he’s really asking himself.
In the trailer, we do see Diego’s temper when he punches Zach. Will we get a little bit of backstory on Diego and the reasoning behind some of the things he does?
Jan Luis Castellanos: I think we do in the right way. Although those stories focus more on the core cast and going into graduation, I think we touch on Diego’s backstory — where he comes from, and how Monty on top of the entire plot played a big role in where he is today. It was really cool. As soon as I got to set, I just sat down with Brian Yorkey and we spoke about the character. He was so welcoming. Working with someone like that, it’s a dream come true. We got to discuss the character, and it was nice because he heard the way I spoke and wrote to my speaking. It was like we had telepathy in the character, which was really nice. We got down to talking about the roots of Diego. Diego is Latino, so we tried to see what layers we could incorporate and bring to life. One thing I wanted to make sure happened with this character was that he was identified in his own way. We all have our personal demons lingering within, and I wanted to really know where the vehicles were built up from, so it was really nice to have Yorkey really sit down with me and just open up to me about the storyline and everything that was going on.
I know that this is your first season, but are you satisfied with how the show comes to a close?
Jan Luis Castellanos: Yes, I’m definitely satisfied. It’s been one hell of a story, honestly. It’s been very groundbreaking, and you do have to give this cast and crew credit for creating such a story. Every story like this eventually deserves an end, especially when it’s an adaptation from a novel that continues to go on. But I think we’re all very pleased with the ending.