Film & TV

'Charlie's Angels' Scene-Stealer Luis Gerardo Méndez is a Self-Care Guru

The actor discusses his friendship with Elizabeth Banks, using his platform for good, and the power of collaboration.
Reading time 13 minutes
Photo by Manuel Zúñiga

Luis Gerardo Méndez is the definition of a multifaceted artist—actor, director, comedian, and activist—and he’s doing it all at the same time. Méndez, who stars alongside Kristen Stewart and Elizabeth Banks in Charlie’s Angels, has been acting for nearly 20 years, rising to fame in his native Mexico. Notably, he starred in 2013's The Noble Family, which for a time was Mexico's highest-grossing film, and was a co-producer and co-star on Netflix's first Spanish-language original, Club de Cuervos, which ran for four seasons between 2015 and 2019. Méndez's work is evocative and impassioned, seamlessly weaving humorous characters with complex themes of family, love, community, and culture.

In Charlie’s Angels, Méndez is a scene-stealer. Providing comedic relief to an action-packed film, his character is the right-hand of Angels Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska while they navigate complex international missions. His character, The Saint, is the manifestation of self-care, helping the trio (and their boss, former Angel Rebekah "Bosley," played by Banks) with nutritional eating and fashion choices, even functioning as a chiropractor. The Saint, which is a new character in the Charlie’s Angels cinematic universe, is a perfect role for Méndez—witty, effortlessly charming, and caring by design.

If one thing’s for sure, it’s that all eyes are on 37-year-old Méndez. Starring alongside Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, he made his English-language debut in Murder Mystery, which broke Netflix viewing records when it debuted this past June. His more than 2.5 million Instagram followers leave hundreds of comments, filling his posts with heart-eyes and fire emojis.

But to Méndez, his newfound fame is a way for him to shine a light on what’s important to him. He’s partnered with PETA and Proyecto Habesha, an organization that unites refugees with higher education opportunities, amongst others. “I think I’m a big speaker for causes that are relevant,” he said, “and at the same time, I can be a speaker for the things that aren’t good.” 


L’Officiel USA spoke with Méndez about his self-care routine, his relationship with Stewart and Banks, and why he uses his platform for a greater good.

Photo by Manuel Zúñiga

Tell me about your character, The Saint. 

I think that The Saint is the angel of the Angels. He’s there to take care of them and help them accomplish their mission. He’s a yoga teacher, psychiatrist, nutritionist, personal trainer, and life coach. It was a lot of fun to play it because I know a lot of people like that. I have a therapist, and I’ve been working out my whole life, trying to change my body for different roles. I am super into yoga. I’m not vegan but I’ve tried a few times. I know all of these characters, so I put them in a blender and this was the result. It was a lot of fun.

 

What was it like working with the Angels and director Elizabeth Banks?

Honestly, I think that the biggest gift of the project was getting to know Elizabeth Banks. She’s an extraordinary woman. She’s so smart and talented, and she has a very unique sense of humor—I think we became friends because of that. I think we have the same sense of humor, so we were always silly on set. She gave me a lot of permission to improvise; she made me feel really comfortable to add and try new stuff. I really enjoyed watching her rule that set. The [cinematographer] on this film was Bill Pope, who [also worked on] The Matrix and Baby Driver, all of these amazing films. To watch her direct that set with all of these action sequences, directing Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, these women ruling all of that universe was very inspiring and powerful. She’s great. 


Of course, the actresses are all amazing as well. Kristen is probably the coolest person I’ve ever met in my life. She’s effortlessly cool; it’s kind of ridiculous. You spend a lot of time in the morning with your routine, trying to look good and working out or whatever. I remember a couple of times when I saw Kristen come into the makeup trailer, having just woke, up, messy, wearing a t-shirt, and she looked like the cover of Vogue. It was so cool to see that. Naomi is an amazing actress, as well. And Ella, we became great friends. We’ve seen each other at some music festivals and random places and she’s a great actress and human being.

Any favorite behind-the-scenes moments from filming Charlie’s Angels

I think every time I was with Elizabeth improvising was really cool. The scene in the movie where we’re talking about Batman was not in the script at all. I think that day, Elizabeth was super, super sick. She had a horrible night the night before, so she was super tired. I think when you’re that tired, you can be brilliant. Great material comes effortlessly when you’re that tired. That whole sequence of us talking about Batman and Ben Affleck and all of those stupid things was just happening there. When I saw the final cut, I was so happy to see that those things made it to the screen. 

 

What do you hope fans take away from the movie?

What I have liked about this film since the moment I read the script is that we can’t do Charlie's Angels now in the same way that we did Charlie’s Angels in the past. The social and cultural moment right now is completely different. Elizabeth did a great job—and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie—with tweaks, the turning points that the film has, I think they’re very relevant right now. The message about female empowerment is so much more sophisticated in this version. I was happily surprised when I saw the final version because I thought it was even better than in the script. I think that’s the thing I like the most about the film. 

Photo via Instagram / @luisgerardom

The Saint is all about self-care and healing. What do you do for self-care in your own life?

I’ve been an actor for 20 years, and I think we’re living in a very particular era and cultural moment right now. I think my generation deals with a lot of anxiety. I think that anxiety is the biggest sickness, and I’m included there. I’ve been struggling with anxiety for the past five years of my life after I became really, really famous in Mexico after a film I did and a Netflix show that was very popular in Latin America. After that moment, I started to deal with anxiety.

I think there’s a lot that we need to do to stop that. One of the biggest issues is social media. We are in front of our phones all the time, living in this world that is not real and highly curated by us. That can be really fucked up for young people. Seeing just the best moments of life of the other person, that’s not real at all. If you don’t have the tools to see and deal with that, you could ruin your day from the first minute you go on social media. I will say that my efforts right now are against that and trying to change the narrative of what social media is for us. A way to do that is with meditation, exercise, and being more present with your friends and the people in front of you. That’s the most important thing for me in terms of taking care of myself and my mind. You could be in a hospital bed with your whole body paralyzed and you still have your mind—you need to take care of that. 

Photo via Instagram / @luisgerardom

You’re involved with a few different causes, and share a lot of content about political and social issues on social media. Why is it important to you to use your platform to start these conversations with your followers?

When I became a public figure so to speak, I started realizing that everything I was saying or posting had an impact. Not just on social media, but sometimes even on newspapers. If I said something on Twitter, the next day it would be news. I started taking more responsibility in terms of what I want to say. I think I’m a big speaker for causes that are relevant, and at the same time, I can speak about things that aren’t good. I point out injustice in my country or in the states. I try to do my best; there’s so much to do.

Five years ago, I was in every single social cause. I was saying yes to everything. Then, I realized that that’s not good. I choose to be completely informed about one cause, and then support that cause. If you’re going to talk about something, you really need to understand it. We are all leaders in a way because we have social media. You think you have a voice just because you have a Twitter account, and that’s not true. You really need to understand a problem to be able to talk about it. There’s so much more to do, and I’m really inspired by people who are using their platforms to make change. 

 

You’ve made significant strides in the film industry, particularly with your roles in Spanish-language films on Netflix and beyond. Is there a reason you choose these kinds of projects? 

My career started in Mexico. In the past two or three years, I have started working in Hollywood with different production companies. I’m just very curious about everything. My dream five years ago was to be able to work with people from different countries and with different points of view. I’ve been lucky to work with people I grew up watching, like Jennifer Aniston and Elizabeth Banks. For me, the most important and interesting thing is to be able to work with and collaborate with people with different perspectives.

I know that I’m going to keep working in Mexico for the rest of my life because there will be the most complex and interesting characters in Spanish, because that’s my first language. Also, I want to keep working in [the U.S.] industry because it’s very similar to what we do in Mexico, but the only difference is the budget and the people you’re working with. One day you’re working with a director from France, and the next day you’re working with a director from Japan and an actress from Australia. It’s very fulfilling for me as an artist and a human being, because your mind and your perception of the world is expanding every day.

What would you say is the biggest difference between the industry in Mexico and the industry in the United States?

The budgets. That’s it. Honestly, that’s the biggest difference. The craft that we do as actors or directors or producers is very similar. We have more toys in America, there are other cameras and stuff. In Charlie’s Angels, we blew up, like, 20 cars. In Mexico to blow up one, it takes months and months of meetings with executives. That’s the biggest difference, but the essence and the heart of what movie making is is pretty similar. I think that’s why we can travel, because the core of what we do as artists doesn’t change.

 

What does the rest of the year look like for you, and what do you have planned for next year?
I just wrapped a film two months ago. In Mexico, I produce most of the things that I do. I just produced this film called Half Brothers with Focus Features. I love them and respect them because they did some of my favorite films in the '90s. I’m really happy and flattered to be working with them. We spent three years developing the script. It’s about two half-brothers, one Mexican and one American. They don’t know the other exists until the father of the guys is ill and in the hospital and they’re forced to take a road trip together. It’s a beautiful comedy, but it’s an analogy for the relationship between Mexico and the States. I think that’s the project I’ll be working on next year.

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