The dream began in 2006 when Mexico-born actor Kuno Becker took a film role as Santiago Muñez, a soccer player aspiring to play on a professional team in “Goal!” This year, Becker returns as Santiago in “Goal II: Living the Dream.” In the film, Santiago is transferred to play soccer for a new team in Spain. Here, he must learn how to deal with becoming a celebrity before his newfound popularity ruins other aspects of his life.
During an phone interview with me, Becker, 30, discussed similarities between him and his character and what his goals are as an actor.
Did David Beckham’s move from Europe to play soccer in the U.S. last year have anything to do with the storyline in “Goal II?”
“Goal II” was written a little bit before that. We knew that it was going to happen. There was no secret there. He’s a superstar, so it was good for the movie and most importantly it was good for the story. Our goal from the very beginning was to make people believe the story and be a part of it.
Of course, we all know how great David Beckham is on the field, but how good of an actor is he?
(Laughing) Well, I’m no one to judge. What I told him was to have fun and enjoy what he was doing. He’s used to the cameras and he was playing himself. He did a great job. He’s a very nice guy; very down to Earth.
I’m sure your soccer skills have gotten better from the first film until now, but did you get nervous having to play in front of all these professionals?
Well, in a way yes. These are real soccer players and I wanted to prepare myself and train months before we shot the movie so my character could be believable. I wanted to make the audience believe that I was one of the Real Madrid players.
Have you ever found yourself in a position like the one Santiago is in – having to make a life-changing decision about your career that could ruin a relationship?
I kind of relate to the character because I’ve been making so many sacrifices in my life starting from doing TV and independent films in Mexico to doing films here. When I was in Mexico, there was a bit of fame and popularity so I understand.
So, how do you keep yourself grounded as an actor?
My career was very different. I didn’t become suddenly famous. For me, it’s been difficult because I’ve been working a lot of years to get here. Life puts you on the right path and makes you never lose perspective of who you are. If you really love your craft, you are going to do it for the right reason.
Would you say that you are living the dream as an actor right now?
I don’t think so. I’m in a position where I am really grateful for everything that happens to me. I’ve been blessed with so much work that I like. Movies like this are nice things. My goal is to be able to play better characters all the time and find better stories.
I know the Mexican team didn’t qualify for the Olympics, but have you been watching any of the soccer matches?
(Laughing) I haven’t, but I have been watching the Olympics. You have to realize how much work is behind the lives of these athletes. It’s really admirable. It’s inspiring to watch people work so hard for a dream.
You will play Santiago again in “Goal III” next year. Do you ever worry that playing the same character is going to get tedious?
In a way that was one of the challenges. I didn’t want to play the same thing over and over. My take on the second one was that we needed to change the character to make it more interesting. Yes, it was the same character but he was under different circumstances, so that made if fun for me.