Pêpê Rapazote: “I don’t think Narcos is too glamorous, I believe it’s real”

The “Portuguese George Clooney” Pêpê Rapazote talks about playing Chepe Santacruz Londoño – one of the four godfathers of the Cali Cartel in the latest series of Narcos

Narcos is set in the past but does it still have relevance today?

Absolutely. Most of the countries where [drugs] are an issue, they’re not really developed countries and it’s part of the culture. But where do you feel it the most? In countries that are the back yard of the US or Europe. People have to get by, they have to live on something. If they plant wheat or anything else they will starve to death. Unless there’s a combined worldwide effort in trying to bring down the production of drugs, unless everyone gives money to replace poppies with corn or wheat or cattle, it’s not going to happen because there’s too much money at stake, and the producer’s lives. They don’t care about the consumers.

Your character Chepe is the link between the cartel and the consumer, how is he different from the other godfathers?

I think it has to do with personality. He’s a very simple guy, very straight forward and down to earth. They called him the student because he studied seven semesters of chemical engineering. One of the things I loved about Chepe is he loved being with the farmers all the way to the chemists in the labs in New York. He loved the process. He was known as the overall man, he was always dirty, his hands dirty, he was working all the time. He was enjoying what he did, having 20 labs in New York, right under New Yorkers’ noses. That’s where you want things to be, you want the fresh meat to get straight away to the consumer.

If I was to be an assassin, I’d want to be like him

Is there a problem presenting bad characters in an attractive way?

You think we’re introducing the characters in a very good way, a glamorous way? Are we? That’s the way they were. I don’t think it’s too glamorous, I believe it’s real.

But a charismatic character attracts you to somebody you maybe shouldn’t be attracted to.

You want to become a drug dealer who kills everyone – no. But do you like seeing it – yes! That’s what attracts actors, I can be whatever I want to. Would I kill anyone? Not a fly.  But if I was to be an assassin, I’d want to be like him.

The third season of Narcos is available now on Netflix. Read more about the show in an upcoming edition of The Big Issue

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