When Netflix’s thrilling cops-and-dealers drama Narcos returns for season 3 this Friday, the good guys will be battling not one kingpin (R.I.P. Pablo) but four: the Gentleman of Cali, the ruthlessly efficient cartel that treated the narcotics trade like a business and famously earned the nickname Cocaine Inc.
Fortunately, Pedro Pascal’s Agent Peña is still there to crash the party. We spoke to Pascal about the new season, working without Boyd Holbrook, and his popularity among airport security officers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) died at the end of last season, and your partner (Boyd Holbrook) left the show too. Do you feel lonely?
PEDRO PASCAL: It was a weird thing to go back to Colombia without them! I was rarely without Boyd, so that was the way I learned to experience the show — alongside him. And Wagner was great to have because he’s a teddy bear of a human being.
I’m sure the new guys are nice, right?
Yeah, but being on the investigation side can kind of suck sometimes because you’re not always around all the badass actors playing these narco kings. They’re having incredible parties with flourishy costumes. And I’m always coming after they’ve already had the party.
Did you show them the ropes of the show and filming in Colombia?
Yeah, I was the old wise turtle that had seen all of it. [Laughs] And it was kind of great because in a way, we sort of started a new show. There is an aspect of it not necessarily starting from scratch, but we have so many new actors coming in and experiencing this for the first time, being Colombia for the first time… so I kid everybody that I’m turning into everyone’s f–king babysitter.
This season focuses on the Gentlemen of Cali, a cartel known to many as Cocaine Inc. How do they differ from Escobar’s outfit?
The Cali godfathers are such a contrast. They were much more blended into society and corporatized the drug trade. It’s more like coming up against an entire industry.
How was the experience for you personally this season? Did you learn a lot?
For me, getting each script was really a fascinating experience, because I had more holy s–t moments than I did learning the details of Pablo Escobar’s reign. This is such contrast to his empire. They integrated into society as they ruled it, they also blended into it more. These were professionals. These were businessmen that were sending their children to the best business schools in the world. So the more you got into it, the more it seems impossible to fight them because they’re in everybody’s pockets.
Netflix doesn’t release numbers, but there are signs that Narcos is one of the most popular shows in the world. Do you get that sense?
The cops in New Jersey — they love it. Every time I fly into Newark, I feel a little bit like a prince! Immigration officers and the police force at the Newark airport, that’s where I feel it the most — that’s where I’ll be like, “Wow, I feel special today.”
What do Colombians usually say?
I had a head start with Game of Thrones as far as South America is concerned. My character, Oberyn, was a beloved character in Latin America, so down, there the conversation always starts with Game of Thrones.
I think that while people outside of Latin America are so fascinated by the stories of these drug kings, adversely, Latin America is really, really interested about the U.S. involvement and the outside elements and how those kinds of corruption mirror one another. The show tries as many perspectives as possible, and that’s something that people down there who have talked to me say they admire.
The full third season of Narcos drops on Netflix Friday, September 1.