Narcos' Cali drug lords are best friends in real life
In the new season of Netflix series Narcos, the lead villains of the series display a rock-solid partnership as the masterminds of Colombia's Cali Cartel, a cocaine-trafficking empire that rose to power in the 90s.
The "Gentlemen of Cali" - Pacho Herrera, brothers Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela and Chepe Santacruz Londono - were said to have controlled about 80 percent of the world cocaine market following the death of Colombia's most-famous drug lord, Pablo Escobar.
Off-screen, it seems that real life mimics reel life as the actors (Alberto Ammann, Damian Alcazar, Francisco Denis and Pepe Rapazote, respectively) have as a close relationship as their characters have in the show.
In fact, it sounds like a bromance, judging by the way Denis and Rapazote gushed about their co-stars.
Venezuelan actor Denis told The New Paper at the Four Seasons Bogota Casa Medina hotel in Colombia ahead of the season premiere in August: "This is the best part - we are in love."
His co-star, Portuguese actor Rapazote chimed in: "If I were ever a narco, these four would be my sidekicks. There are almost always bad relations between actors because actors have 'characters'... but if we wanted to give our best and have the other do their best, there has to be love in the air.
"The four of us, we were in love and we still are."
Even after eight months of filming wrapped in Cali and Bogota, the quartet, together with their fellow co-star Arturo Castro, who stars as Miguel's son, David, continue to stay in touch via WhatsApp.
Their chat name? "Narcos Never Forget".
In the group chat is where they trade lame jokes, share funny stories on the web, or simply catch up on each other's lives.
And according to Rapazote, without fail every day, Alcazar will be the one sending "the sweetest" voice message to greet them good morning.
He said, after playing an example of one of those voice messages for this reporter: "He will say, 'Good morning, my brothers. How are you doing? I'm on set working my ass off but I love you all so much.'
"He's like one of those loveable grandpas in commercials who offers his grandchild a piece of chocolate. He is a sweet, sweet man."
For Denis, he will continue to see more of Alcazar when the latter moves to a house behind his in Mexico.
"I'm positive that we will work on more great things together," he said.
When asked about portraying real-life characters, both Denis and Rapazote agree that it was no easy feat.
But both of them received validation for their acting, and from people who have personally met the actual cartel godfathers.
Rapazote said: "Chepe has a good sense of humour and has a larger-of-life personality. He is the type of person who would catch someone looking at him, go up to the person and ask in a low voice, 'What are you looking at?'"
"I did that to someone on-set who had met Chepe and was told it was exactly like his antics in real life."
Denis, who had a similar encounter, recalled: "Miguel's nephew worked on the set as well. After a scene, he came to me and said, 'I feel afraid. Your gestures are exactly like my uncle's.'
"You don't know how well or badly you are doing in your acting and hearing that was truly something."