Diego Luna first revealed himself to American audiences in Alfonso Cuaron’s critically acclaimed Y Tu Mamá También alongside his good friend Gael Garcia Bernal, who has also made a name for himself in Hollywood. But for every girl who is slightly alarmed by the startling intensity and rawness that is Bernal, there is the cute, less-threatening, boyish charm of Diego Luna who draws you in with his sheepish, yet mischievous smile. It was this aura of innocence and inherent likeability that director Hugo Rodriguez needed for the character of Lolo in Nicotina, as we see him delving into morally questionable activities.

Lolo is a computer hacker with a creepy and elaborate obsession with his neighbor Andrea. He sets up cameras all around her apartment to spy on her, desperately trying to manipulate her into loving him. Luna admits that he doesn’t like his character at all.

"He’s a guy who pretends to be innocent, but he’s not innocent at all," Luna says, shaking his head. "He has a pretty face and a pretty smile and doesn’t look like the cliché of the bad guy, but he’s a very evil guy."

In the movie, Lolo makes a seemingly trivial mistake and fails to deliver the secret codes that his criminal friend owes a mobster, accidentally setting off an unfortunate chain of events that spiral out of control.

As for Luna, he jokes that he didn’t even know how to turn his computer on until he made Nicotina. But learning new skills is one of his main motivations for choosing his roles, whether it is discovering how to use the computer, learning new dance moves in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights or riding a horse in Open Range.

"I try to do that. Because [in acting], it’s always you," Luna explains. "You’re working with your emotions and your body and your tears, so it’s good to put yourself in different situations that you don’t experience in real life."

Shooting movies allows Luna to travel, which he loves, yet his heart is always in Mexico, the place he calls home. Nicotina was an opportunity for him to shoot in his homeland, also jumping at the chance to work with Rodriguez on a clever script written by Martin Salinas.

"It’s one of those movies where you laugh because, if not, you would cry," says Luna. The dark comedy talks about living in a big city where everyone is disconnected and unhappy; therefore, they do not anticipate the enormous, disastrous effects that their actions ultimately have on others. It’s a film in which people aren’t necessarily paying attention to what’s going on right in front of them.

"My character thinks he’s in love," says Luna, "but he’s creating an obsession in his head and doesn’t experience life.

"All these characters are talking about smoking or not smoking, and they’re missing the important stuff," Luna continues. "And I think we are too. Every time I come to the States, I wish people would react to war like they react to tobacco. There’s the feeling of, ‘Are we really taking care of the important things in our lives?’"

This thought-provoking film has gained critical and commercial success in Mexico winning six Mexican Ariel Awards. "It’s really tough to do movies in Mexico, so it should always be a celebration when it happens," reflects Luna.

Luna’s wish is that the Mexican government would better support the filmmaking industry so that Mexican filmmakers could have more of a chance to work in their own country, instead of having to escape to others because of the extreme difficulties.

"Everything pushes you to quit doing movies in Mexico," Luna laments. "I wish in Mexico, they would take more care of the talent. If people know Mexico in the world, it’s because of our food, our painters, our writers and our music.

Luna, however, still admits proudly, "I love working in my country. Once you learn how to love a city like Mexico City, you don’t find that anywhere else. I think everything needs to be a bit dirty to taste well, you know? If it’s too clean, then it’s boring." Then comes that irresistible, boyish grin.