Boyd Holbrook on Shooting ‘Narcos’ in Colombia: “It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done”

Actor Boyd Holbrook

The second season of the Netflix series Narcos has received even more acclaim than the first season — and actor Boyd Holbrook, who plays DEA agent Steve Murphy on the series, is a large part of that. On the series, Murphy and other DEA agents are on the trail of notorious real-life Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Holbrook talks about working with the real-life Steve Murphy, what movie inspired his narration, and why shooting in Colombia was so challenging.

Since Holbrook’s character is the narrator for the show, he has the opportunity to watch the episodes before any of the other actors. He points out that doing the voice-overs provides something of a flashback for him, saying, “It’s always a little bizarre. Going back through it, you’re like, ‘I remember that.'”

Holbrook cites one particular film with a voiceover as one of the main influences on his delivery — Goodfellas. He explains, “I think Ray Liotta in Goodfellas is the best ever. Given that it was two hours, it was a little bit more theatrical, and I mean that in the most positive way. I definitely thought about that and saw how that was used at a certain time period, so I kind of based my decisions off a longer extent and period.”

One advantage Holbrook had with his character is that he was in regular contact with the real-life Steve Murphy and even got to work with him at the FBI Academy. He reveals, “We spoke a ton. We got to get into Quantico for a week. It’s pretty awesome. You do scenarios and tactics and run around shooting rubber bullets at each other. It was pretty cool. I spent a lot of time talking to him about that, what his life was like at that period. It was very informative but at some point, you can never truly be somebody else so you have to kind of throw it away and do your own thing.”

Another aspect that sets Narcos apart is that it is actually filmed in Colombia, giving it a level of authenticity — and as Holbrook points out, difficulty — not seen in similar productions. He explains, “It totally changed my life, and I really mean that. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. The amount of work and how ambitious the show is, because it is so ambitious. And then, to do it. It takes a lot out of you but it was extremely rewarding. I grew. For an actor, to go to work every day is a really rare occurrence. You may work on a film for three months max, and then you’re off, so you have to find another job and then work another three months. So to go to work every single day, those 16 to 18 months, was incredible. Repetition is everything.”

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