You know his face, but you may not know his name. Mexican-American actor Michael Peña has been in over 50 films, including the new Ant-Man and the Wasp in theaters on Friday. His character, Luis, has been dubbed a scene-stealer — and that’s a good thing!
Peña, born and raised in Chicago, moved to Los Angeles when he was 19 years old to begin his acting career. “I've been acting for about 20 years, and I think about 14 of those years were just struggling," Peña told NBC in 2015. "In the beginning, it was all gangsters. ... The reality is everyone has a stereotyped; everyone gets typecast, so you have to work and build out of that hopefully," he said.
After taking small parts in TV and film, Peña got his big break in 2004. He starred in not one, but two Oscar-winning movies. He played opposite Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby, which scored the Best Picture Oscar in 2005. A year later, Peña’s movie Crash also won for Best Picture. His Academy Award merits don’t stop there. Peña’s been in four Oscar-nominated movies. Besides Million Dollar Baby and Crash, he was also part of the star-studded casts for Babel and American Hustle. Both films were nominated in the Best Picture category.
Peña’s got range. He’s shown his versatile acting skills in drama and comedy. “I try to switch it up from movie to movie just because you want that challenge,” he said.
He’s acted alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names: Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Chris Hemsworth, and most recently Marvel superhero Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). It’s Peña’s hilarious role in Ant-Man and the Wasp that has fans rooting for him.
With 13 awards under his belt, including a Screen Actors Guild Award for American Hustle, Peña shows no signs of slowing down. He’s starring in Season 4 of the Netflix series Narcos with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story actor Diego Luna, streaming later this year.
"I am not afraid to play Latin roles,” Peña said. “That was a big part of my life being a proud Mexican American."