Gabriel Luna may be making his mark on Hollywood with projects like The Last of Us and Fubar, but the actor never forgets where he came from.
The Crockett High grad had never considered acting when he was growing up in Austin. He was more focused on athletics. After dislocating his shoulder, he pivoted and started doing theater. He never thought it would lead to anything but then he attended St. Ed’s to study acting and, as he told Austin.com in 2019, “I just kept rolling and here I am.”
We caught up with Luna at HBO Max’s Coffeehouse at SXSW 2023. He took part in a “Fireside Chat” hosted by fellow Austin native Selome Hailu, who currently works with Variety. The pair know each other through Hailu’s older brother who worked as a Production Assistant on one of Luna’s earlier movies: Balls Out. Released in 2014, the movie was made in Austin.
Since then, Luna has starred in the Robert Rodriguez series Matador, Terminator: Dark Fate, True Detective, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the most recent projects already mentioned.
The Last of Us
If you’ve watched The Last of Us, you’re aware that the story begins in Austin. Luna was asked during the SXSW chat how it felt to see “the apocalypse start at home?”
“That was cool, “he said. “They put the ever-changing Austin skyline in the show and I barely recognize that. I recognized the Step Building. And the Frost Bank Building. And there were other buildings I had no idea had been built.”
He went on to talk about recognizing Austin when he first played the video game years ago. “It’s a lot more frequent nowadays that our town is the zeitgeist… kind of ever present in media. But back then it was somewhat jarring and really exciting to see Austin represented that way,” Luna explained.
The Support of Family and Friends
Luna’s family and friends were on hand to show their support at the event. His mom Debbie and cousins were seated in the front row. His wife Smaranda was mingling nearby. Friends were scattered throughout the intimate audience. There’s no doubt pals from St. Edward’s University were there as well. He’s spoken at and of his alma mater a number of times. And when he made the “toppers up” hand signal, cheers arose from the crowd.
You will certainly see more of Luna on screen, but locals might catch him on the Austin music scene next, or at a local restaurant grabbing breakfast tacos with his family. While Luna bounces from LA to Austin to various filming locations, he’s always looking for a reason to come home.
“I’ll take any excuse I can get to come see my mama, Debbie Luna the legend!” Luna exclaimed.
Texas This or That
Of course, we couldn’t miss the chance to ask the native Austinite our Texas This or That questions. Here are the tough choices he made.
This article was written with assistance from Michele Schmidt.