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Babylon's Diego Calva Learned English Through The Power Of Pokemon

"Babylon" recently released in theaters, marking the long-awaited return of director Damien Chazelle. Although the movie didn't perform nearly as expected at the box office, the "La La Land" director brings a star-studded cast along with him to tell a story about classic Hollywood as it transitions from silent to sound films. Joining Chazelle are Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Tobey Maguire, and Olivia Wilde.

To many people's surprise, "Babylon" wasn't as well-received as most expected, sitting at a measly 55% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, that hasn't stopped the movie from receiving award-season recognition. The film earned five Golden Globe nominations, including "Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy" and individual awards for Pitt, Robbie, and Calva (per IMDb).

Calva was one of the biggest surprises of "Babylon." The Mexican actor is relatively new to the scene, Chazelle's project is his debut English-language film, but he's worked in the industry for nearly ten years. With many Mexican projects under his belt, Calva garnered Hollywood's attention after landing a role in "Narcos: Mexico," leading to his casting in "Babylon." His performance as Manny Torres is seen as a highlight in an otherwise messy film, earning him nominations at the Golden Globes, Satellite Awards, and potentially the Oscars (via IMDb). It turns out Calva learned English to star in "Babylon," and from a pretty interesting source at that.

Pikachu is hard to translate from English to Spanish

Although Diego Calva is turning heads with his performance in "Babylon," the Mexican actor had a lot to prepare before starring in the film, including learning English. He recently appeared as a guest on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," where he elaborated on how he managed to learn a new language for Damien Chazelle's latest film.

Calva admits that while his English isn't perfect, he never took classes or had a teacher, choosing instead to improve his fluency through music, movies, and video games. "Pokémon.' All day 'Pokémon,'" the actor said when asked what video games he played. "Because, back in the day, they didn't have the translation or like the Spanish versions. So if you want to play it [Pokémon], you have to at least have a dictionary." Calva then motioned to show him using a dictionary to translate the words on the screen while he was on his journey to be the very best that no one ever was. The actor admitted that Pikachu was challenging to translate, joking that someone really needs to know him to understand what he was saying.

His love for "Pokémon" runs deeper than just playing video games. In a separate interview with GQ, Calva listed cards as the first essential item in his life, whether standard cards, "Magic: The Gathering," or "Pokémon." It's not about acquiring the most expensive card, according to Calva. Instead, he wants to build the perfect deck, which has been his hobby since childhood. While shooting a movie, he uses multiple decks to play against himself, which helps him stay focused.