The intense and smoking stripper is the main male character in the hit Spanish series Netflix “ Toy Boy ” and is played by Jesus Mosquera, a man who less than two years ago had no acting experience and was playing lower league football in Spain.
He jokes that the people behind the series told him during his first audition – an audition he didn’t even want to attend – that he was going to be a stripper, he would have “run away and not accepted” the role.
Since she was plunged into total darkness at the end of 2018 and catapulted into the spotlight, Mosquera has accumulated more than 1.3 million followers on Instagram and has become one of the most famous actors in Spain.
But like many Spanish children, Mosquera’s dream was to become a professional footballer. He got closer than most too.
Born in the southern coastal city of Fuengirola, Mosquera started in the youth system of the local La Liga Malaga club before moving on to Athletic Bilbao and Real Betis.
In Malaga and Betis, he was part of team B and trained with the first team, but never made an appearance in the first team.
While some friends and former teammates have managed to get promoted with their respective clubs, getting out of the lower divisions of Spain is notoriously difficult and Mosquera had all but given up hope of becoming a professional footballer.
“The football train had already passed me,” Mosquera told CNN Sport since the foreclosure of his home in Madrid. “So when this other opportunity came, I had to try it.”
‘What have you got to lose?’
Remarkably, this opportunity – which Mosquera describes as “life-changing” – came from a trip to a gym.
During the off-season of football in the summer of 2018, some friends of Mosquera persuaded him to accompany them to the gymnasium after learning that the television producers were looking to launch people for a series, a film and an advertisement.
Except that no one showed up and Mosquera didn’t think about it.
Two days later, the gymnasium owner informed Mosquera and his friends that the producers were back and were still auditioning.
“I intended to go to the casting but I told my friend that they were not going to take me anyway, so I did not introduce myself,” recalls Mosquera.
“We continued training and while we were training I heard the woman say,” There is a boy wearing a yellow T-shirt who has the profile we are looking for, but he did not come to the casting. “
“At that moment, I looked down and saw that I was wearing the yellow T-shirt.”
Even then, Mosquera told the casting director that if he liked the offer, he felt too embarrassed to pose for a camera.
“‘What have you got to lose?’ she asked me. “Maybe if you are lucky you will pass the first test.”
Encouraged by his friends, Mosquera reluctantly decided – “like a joke” – to participate.
In the weeks that followed, he passed test after test, and six months later, Mosquera received a phone call from famous casting directors Eva Leira and Yolanda Serrano to offer him the lead role in a new TV series – as stripper.
“It was complicated, it was difficult because I am a shy person,” he says. “I didn’t even want to go to the casting because I thought the camera would be intimidating … so imagine having to take my clothes off and dance.
“I was fortunate not to know which role I was going to end up being given. Each month and each test, I received a little more personality and it was not until the last audition that I found out that I was going to be a stripper. “
Less than a week after receiving this phone call in January 2019, Mosquera had uprooted his life and moved from Fuengirola to Madrid. That meant he had to leave his then club, the fourth level Antequera, in the middle of the season.
Only a few months before the start of the shooting of “ Toy Boy ”, Mosquera was plunged into an exhausting period of daily actor and dance lessons, as well as gym sessions.
He had to learn to dance from scratch to be credible in his new role. He also added 10 pounds of muscle, knowing he could be released at any time if he didn’t improve quickly enough.
“People think this because they found me in a gym that I was already strong, but I was really skinny,” he says, lifting his little finger. “I preferred to run on the beach or in the countryside … and I was very defined because of football, but I had no muscle mass.
“I didn’t know how to dance at all and I never considered myself a dancer. It was a very, very difficult process, many hours of rehearsals, training, dancing … but an unforgettable experience.
“Of course it was a risk, but I accepted the challenge and thank God everything went well.”
Lies, deception and rigged death
‘Toy Boy’ and his chiseled main character are succinctly summarized in the first line of the series.
“Imagine your greatest desires; sex, parties, money. I have it all. My name is Hugo Beltran and I am a stripper,” he says.
It is a line delivered with an intense brand look that would shame Derek Zoolander. There are also lies, deception, false imprisonment and a rigged death; and it’s just episode one.
Mosquera is affable and light, and on the surface is unlike his brooding alter ego Beltran – who often portrays an image of a bad boy, but is ultimately misunderstood – although the actor says the two share some similarities.
“There may be little nuances in my personality,” he says. “For him, his family is his group of friends and I also have a relationship with my friends as if they were my family.
“I am a very stubborn and very persistent person, like Hugo, and I think that apart from the things that he is forced to do to find the truth, he actually has a big heart, which I try to have and be a good person. “
Mosquera believes his experience in football helped ease his transition into the world of theater.
Perseverance, teamwork – he says, sometimes filming can take place with more than 100 colleagues – as well as staying in shape and dieting were all disciplines he would know as a footballer.
As a central defender in his game days, the 27-year-old said his main inspiration was Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid but, as a football fan, nothing beats watching Lionel Messi.
“For me, he is the greatest player in history,” said the actor.
As for the role models, Mosquera admires the Hollywood superstar and his compatriot Malagueño Antonio Banderas, someone he has admired since childhood.
Mosquera seems to have put his meteoric rise to the rank of celebrity in his stride.
The mystery murder series “ Toy Boy ” first made its debut on Antena 3, one of the largest Spanish TV channels, before moving to Netflix. In addition to lesson and rehearsal hours, Mosquera has also been trained to deal with this new fame.
“One minute, you’re anonymous, then suddenly, you’re on TV,” he says. “For me, this is what I like the least about my job. Honestly, fame is not what attracts me. But it is part of my job and I am also aware that if you have this success , it’s thanks to the public. ”
“So when they stop me in the street, ask to speak to me and take pictures and I see their enthusiasm at the idea of meeting someone who has influenced or helped them, it really makes me happy to be able to share this with them. “
Locked out life
Like all of us, Mosquera has been impacted by the quarantine regulations that have been put in place in most of Europe, Spain being particularly affected by the coronavirus.
He has not been able to see his grandparents since the start of the foreclosure for fear of infecting them and his new career has been temporarily put on hold.
However, Mosquera is optimistic about the current situation and does not take his health and that of his friends and family for granted.
He also devoted extra free time to honing his still very new acting skills by taking online lessons, reading more and watching inspiring documentaries – he especially recommends “ The Story of Ronda Rousey ”.
Mosquera is still optimistic. The second series of ‘Toy Boy’ will be filmed once the world has returned to normal, which means that there can be no slack in his eating or training.
“I usually do enough exercise to make myself sweat because if not, imagine eating all day … we will all end up like that,” he laughs, gesturing with a round belly.
“I always try to exercise in the morning because it helps me to clear my mind, but I also think that there is no need to go crazy while training, it’s just to help a little psychologically.
“We are all in a very difficult situation right now and I am just trying to be positive and approach it in the best possible way.”
The extra downtime also gave Mosquera plenty of opportunities to reflect on how her life has changed in the past 18 months.
Even now, almost a year ago today when the crew finished filming the first series, Mosquera can sometimes barely believe in the new life he is living.
“The opportunity to participate in the casting of the series crossed paths with me,” he says. “And it’s something that changed my life.”