Kuno Becker calls himself a nomad, and this is no actorly overstatement. The star of Goal II: Living the Dream, which opens here Friday (August 29), admits he hasn’t had a home in quite some time.
“I don’t really live anywhere,” said Becker, who called the Georgia Straight from an office in Los Angeles. His journey began 30 years ago in Mexico’s capital, when he arrived to a German father and native-born mother. A child prodigy on the violin from the age of five, he went to Austria as a teenager to study music in Salzburg.
At 17, however, he got the acting bug and returned to study drama in Mexico City. (His maternal grandmother was a famous pianist, and her sister, Maria Félix, was one of Mexico’s most beloved actors.)
Two years later, he was starring in a top telenovela, and more soaps followed until he got international attention opposite Spanish star Cecilia Roth in 2003’s Lucía, Lucía.
He then joined English-speaking casts in the American comedy Once Upon a Wedding and the political thriller Imagining Argentina, a multinational coproduction that found him holding his own against Emma Thompson and Antonio Banderas. After that, he starred in 2005’s French-financed, fittingly titled Nomad, a historical epic shot by Russian director Sergei Bodrov in Kazakhstan.
Also in 2005, the U.K./U.S. coproduction Goal! gave him a highly commercial profile as Santiago Muñez, a budding soccer phenom from East Los Angeles who gets picked to play for Newcastle United in England. The film also featured Anna Friel as his English girlfriend and Alessandro Nivola as his rival and best friend. Those two carry over into the sequel, which finds Muñez picked to play with the big kids of Real Madrid.
“This trilogy was so much fun to make,” he said in almost accentless English. “And the chance to work with people like Elizabeth Peña and Rutger Hauer made it even more interesting. Plus David Beckham and all those guys, of course.”
Becker already has the third Goal flick in the can, although his shaven-headed character gets phased out so that the franchise, and he, can move on.
“I just did a movie in New Mexico called Spoken Word. It was a small, independent film, directed by Victor Nunez, that has a very powerful story. And that’s the kind of thing I love to do most. I’ve been doing mostly independent films, and things like Goal give me a chance to have more options.”
And more hair.
“It’s true,” he agreed with a laugh. “I keep playing guys with little or no hair. This one gave me a chance to have some again. So that’s my range: hair and no hair!”
Now that this aspect of his career is well-mapped, there are still a few geographical horizons he has yet to explore.
“Considering how much travelling I’ve done, I can’t believe I’ve never been to Vancouver. I should really be shooting a movie there. Let’s hang up so I can talk to my agent.”