How Cassandro Cast Bad Bunny, and Why Gael García Bernal Did His Own Wrestling

To cast the biggest pop star in the world in his latest film, all director Roger Ross Williams had to do was say yes. Because it was Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, aka Bad Bunny, who reached out to the Cassandro production team about appearing in the Prime Video film.

Cassandro, starring Gael García Bernal, tells the true story of its titular legend, born Saúl Armendáriz, a lucha libre wrestler who broke major ground as a gay may in wrestling in the late 1980s and 1990s. As a wrestling fan, Bad Bunny sought out the opportunity to play Felipe, a young man supporting Cassandro during his ascent to fame. “Imagine you get that call: ‘Yeah, Bad Bunny, the biggest pop star in the world, wants to be in your movie,’” Williams laughs. “We moved heaven and earth to make it happen.”

This was Bad Bunny’s first role as an actor (he shot his scenes prior to the filming of last year’s Bullet Train, in which he also appeared), and Williams says that “it was a dream. He is so down to earth and so real, and not at all what you would expect — and he’s a really great actor. He takes this very seriously.”

Adds Williams, “It was so easy. He said, ‘Look, this isn’t my medium. I’m going to listen to you and take direction.’ And he did. He was on set by himself with everyone, he didn’t have an entourage or anything. He was just there to do the work. It was a great process.”

Williams, an Oscar-winning director with a background in documentary work, had more experience on a film set than Bad Bunny. But Bad Bunny had something he didn’t, prior to making Cassandro — real knowledge of professional wrestling, including the Mexican subgenre at the center of the film. “I didn’t know anything about lucha libre. You know, except for maybe watching Nacho Libre.” So not only did he have to learn about the sport himself, but he had to figure out how to make it feel accessible to an audience that might not have any exposure to professional wrestling at all.

“And the way to do that was authenticity,” he says. “Authenticity is always the most powerful way to tell a story. All the wrestlers are real lucha libre wrestlers. We really stayed true and authentic to the world. The fans loved it because it was familiar to them, and the new fans were introduced to the second biggest sport in Mexico.”

Behind the scenes of Cassandro, courtesy of Prime Video