In Season 1, royal siblings Princess Aja (Tatiana Maslany) and Prince Krel (Diego Luna) of Akiridion-5 barely escape a coup on their planet and crash-land in Arcadia Oaks, California. Disguising their true alien-looking selves, they've tried to meld into human society and mingle, but trouble from the galaxy has come looking for them in the form of intergalactic bounty hunters. And as the pair have made some close friends on Earth, they’ve even found some things to love about our backward planet. Season 2 ramps up the stakes, getting the siblings back home, bringing some mortal danger to the quirky little town, and introducing some hardcore crossover characters fans will love seeing.
SYFY WIRE got on the phone with Diego Luna, who voices tech genius Krel, to discuss playing a character that he’s proud his two young kids can watch, and emulate.
3Below is the second animation collaboration you’ve worked on with Guillermo del Toro. Was it an immediate yes?
It was. It was pretty fast, basically, the pitch. It took seconds for me to accept.
It seems like being a part of del Toro’s creative circle is always worth it?
Yes, when he called me for The Book of Life, he was producing that show. It was directed by Jorge Gutierrez, and he called me and said, "Listen, listen, because this is not a story about four kids, this is a story, period. A story that matters and that will resonate with you." And to be honest, it was through working with Guillermo that I found a way to be part of all this content that … yes, allows kids to be part of, but it's not for kids.
It's for audiences. Where you celebrate the intelligence of the audience, where you're not condescending about the content and the complexity because they're kids. When you understand the complexity, actually, of how kids and teens look at the world and the amount of layers you can bring into a project that is meant for kids to watch. I'm a father, and I was really trying to be part of a project that I could share with my kids. Most of my films I have to hide from them. I have to lock them because they're meant to be watched when they're 18, and that's it. So, for me, it was really important to do The Book of Life.
[Together with 3Below,] these stories are saying something to adults, too. And in a way, these stories bring families together, and for me it's a beautiful thing to share my work with my kids, and to be able to have a discussion, and to debate, what this story means to them and what it means to me. I think that's a gift Guillermo gave me a few years ago. Every time he'll call me to do something for kids, I'll be there. Because I'm always looking for interesting stuff to make for my kids.
He’s really so joyful about bringing stories to life.
Yes! It's absurd the amount of love he spreads. With his work, with his every day. Many times I go like, "Holy sh**! What have Facebook and Twitter and Instagram brought to our society?" But then I go, like, "Well, but at the same time, Twitter gives us a chance to hear Guillermo every day." Which I love. Suddenly, all the trolls, and all the lies, and all the madness that happens on social media, I can take if Guillermo is there.
Let’s talk about your process recording Krel for 3Below. Do you get to record with your cast?
No. I record in Mexico, and I was seeing the [animation] progress. So it comes back and forth. I was reacting to what others were doing. And then you get influenced and affected by that, and you become part of it. That's the beautiful team Guillermo has built for this.
Do you like animation voicing even if it’s a more solitary process for you?
I love it. You record, and then they go and start the animation. And then the animation comes back to you, and you can still work on it and bring something more after you see the work of the designers. And you understand the rhythm, and you start hearing the other voices, and you hear the music, and you understand the universe. And then that affects you, and you bring your last kicks to the performance. I love it also because you can go and play around and give many options, because that is the idea. It's like a workshop. So you do one as it's written, but then you do one different, and it's very theatrical to me. You can be big with voice.
Are you in the booth acting out the scenes like you’re playing out the action?
Yes. If you would record our faces when we are reading, you’d go like, "Whoa, that's terrible acting." I exaggerate every gesture in order for the voice to come with a specific vibration, and feeling, and tone. I became addicted. I will do this, if I have the chance, forever, because it's like going to a nice therapy where you get everything out, and you're paid for it. (Laughs)
Let’s talk about the themes of the series. Krel and Aja are essentially immigrants on our planet, but the series is really framed with them coming to accept and appreciate us, the flawed humans and planet that we live on, which is a refreshing twist on that story.
Well, I have to say that [the series] feels more pertinent than ever. Today that the world is so intercommunicated, and so many people are not exactly in the place where they came from. Many people are moving. Many people are connecting with others and creating new relations. So, what does belonging mean? You should always be where you think you belong, but you should also be always able to move, and find, and discover, and learn, and make connections with the unknown. To have the chance to choose from those is what I call freedom. And today, we need to discuss that.
3Below does address that and also shows all kinds of species and people coming together for a common purpose regardless of where anyone is from.
It is inside of a fantastic and an exciting world of adventures, but at the same time, it's so much a comment on the world we live in. So much a comment on what we're discussing. And how can there be people that are allowed to be in a place, and people that are not? You go, like, "What? It's insane. We are the same. We all have the right to build the present and the reality we want to live it. We should all have that freedom, access to that freedom." So I love how the series does it, and I love what debates it can bring into a family, with also such a hopeful and beautiful way of seeing light, which is about what we can build, what we can become.
Krel has a big arc this season. What are you most excited for fans to see this season?
I love what happens to Krel. He arrives to a civilization that is so way behind. But he still finds stuff that impresses him, that surprises him, and that he can learn from. I love his relation to music. I love when he says, thinks like, "Oh, there's this thing humans have called 'love,' which is very weird. Makes them do weird stuff." I kind of love the idea behind it. You can always find something to learn. You can always find a connection wherever you are. You can always find beauty and richness, almost anywhere, you can find it. And that's our ability. We have that ability, and we can't forget we have that ability.
As a filmmaker and producer, what lessons have you taken from working with del Toro that you’re making a part of your creative path?
Whenever Guillermo talks about a project he's doing, you can tell he's talking about something that matters profoundly. And if that's not there, doing it has no meaning. It doesn't matter what project it is. I remember, in a long period of time in my career, I was trying to do everything that came to me. I was very disappointed when I couldn't do something and I realized it was huge, or something interesting happened around it. And now I'm so much more relaxed. I know there's stuff for you, and there's the other stuff. We can, as the audience, always participate in the projects we care about. But as a filmmaker, as a storyteller, or an actor, or whatever I am, I can just be in one place at the moment. And I have to be there because I believe in what I'm telling. And that is something I think Guillermo has always done.
3Below Season 2 can be streamed now on Netflix.