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Why Walt From Narcos: Mexico Looks So Familiar

Since making its Netflix debut back in 2018, Narcos: Mexico has become one of the most tragically overlooked series in the streaming giant's increasingly bloated slate of shows. As a spin-off from the equally brilliant and overlooked original Narcos (which chronicled the rise of infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar), Narcos: Mexico sets its action in America's Southern neighbor circa the 1980s. In that turbulent time and place, the series follows the rise of Guadalajara Cartel boss Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (portrayed by Diego Luna).

The first season of the series was centered around DEA Agent Kiki Camarena (Ant-Man scene-stealer Michael Peña) as he infiltrates Gallardo's inner circle in hopes of bringing the sprawling trafficking ring down. Camarena's harrowing journey remains one of the most compelling the Narcos series have depicted to date, and every step of that journey was narrated, for the first time, by someone other than the man in the middle of the action. 

In fact, we didn't actually meet the narrator of Narcos: Mexico's inaugural season until the final episode. When the man (named Walt Breslin) finally made his appearance, fans of the show were surprised to see a fairly familiar face — one that ended up front and center for the entirety of Narcos: Mexico's second season. That face belongs to the one and only Scoot McNairy, and yes, you've absolutely seen it before, because it's been popping up on big screens and small with astonishing regularity over the past decade. Here's why Walt from Narcos: Mexico looks so familiar.

Scoot McNairy has frequently favored small screen roles

For the record, we really aren't whistling Dixie about McNairy's face popping up all over the place of late. Even a casual glance at the actor's IMDb page is enough to leave one believing that McNairy may well be the hardest working man in showbiz. That's in no small part due to the actor's obvious penchant for claiming supporting roles on TV series big and small. In fact, that's sort of been his modus operandi since he turned up in Tinseltown, with the actor making brief appearances on such lauded shows as Six Feet UnderHow I Met Your MotherThe ShieldBones, and Fargo before landing his gig on Netflix's bracing south of the border drama.

Most recently, McNairy went full Western on the small screen, delivering a memorable turn as the Sheriff of the ill-fated LaBelle, New Mexico, in Netflix's tragically underseen Godless. He also delivered a heart-wrenching performance as the troubled father to two lost children in the mostly brilliant third season of HBO's anthology crime series True Detective. While we wholly recommend that you go off and spend a little time binging both of those series (maybe skipping True Detective's second season), if you want to see McNairy at his absolute best, you're going to want to head over to Netflix this instant and add the actor's AMC series Halt and Catch Fire to your queue.

Set in the 1980s, Halt and Catch Fire follows a small group of insiders (Lee Pace, Mackenzie Davis, Kerry Bishé, and Toby Huss) as they traverse the treacherous early days of the personal computing era. You're just gonna have to trust us when we say that the show is far more fascinating than that description might make it sound.

Scoot McNairy broke bad opposite Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly

Though he's still a relative unknown to the general public, McNairy's profile has continued to grow by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Oddly, it's done so without a legitimate breakthrough role to his credit. Though the film was all but ignored by critics and audiences upon release, Andrew Dominik's scathing, overtly political 2012 crime drama Killing Them Softly initially seemed like the movie that would make McNairy a household name. 

That wasn't exactly because of McNairy's involvement, of course. If Killing Them Softly was on your radar back then, it's because either a) you were excited to see the new movie from the director of the near-flawless Western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, or b) you were stoked to see a movie featuring the talents of James Gandolfini, Ben Mendelsohn, Richard Jenkins, Sam Shephard, and Ray Liotta — not to mention a certain mega-star by the name of Brad Pitt

That cast should've provided serious box office firepower, but it still wasn't enough for Killing Them Softly to even make a ripple during its theatrical run. It's still hard to tell exactly what went wrong with the film, but we're guessing its caustic view of an America on the brink of collapse maybe hit a little too close to home for many. That's a genuine shame, because Killing Them Softly feels as tragically prophetic now as it did upon release — and it happens to feature a brilliant turn from McNairy that, in a just world, would've made him an overnight movie star.

Scoot McNairy crossed a dangerous border in Monsters

While Killing Them Softly remains the movie that should've landed McNairy a coveted spot on Hollywood's A-list, it was his lauded work in a stunning 2010 sci-fi indie which likely helped him land on the mainstream Tinseltown radar. That film, titled Monsters, found McNairy portraying a jaded journalist who is tasked with transporting a frightened American tourist (Whitney Able) back across the Mexican border. That task is especially challenging as the pair are forced to traverse a perilous Mexican quarantine zone en route to the promise of safety. 

For the record, Monsters is not the next viral pandemic freak show you need to add to your watchlist amid current concerns. Rather, the film (written and directed by future Rogue One: A Star Wars Story helmer Gareth Edwards) paints a marvelously grounded picture of what an alien invasion might actually look like a few years after the initial event, unfolding six years after first contact.

Monsters is not your typical invasion flick, however, in that it's not all about space ships and vile alien creatures laying waste to humanity. In fact, we hardly see any "aliens" at all in the film, with Edwards choosing instead to posit that "the creatures" in Monsters (which appear as everything from botanical mutations to oddly benign sort of Kaiju), arrived on Earth via a crashed NASA satellite, and just never left. Equal parts political parable and slow-burn sci-fi thriller, Monsters is, at its core, a first rate indie character drama with a small scale that can hardly contain its epic ambition. If you haven't seen it yet, well, you need to rectify that oversight immediately.

Scoot McNairy told off Superman in Dawn of Justice

We mentioned that McNairy had a few bigger pictures to his credit already. Of those films, none were as high profile as 2016's DCEU team-up flick Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Prior to that film's release, there was legitimate reason to be excited at the prospect of DC icons Batman and Superman facing off in what seemed destined to become a big screen battle for the ages. Of course, we all vividly recall that the flick missed the mark in virtually every way possible, and we're all still a bit perplexed by the head-scratching "Martha" thing which turned the tide and made allies of the dueling foes.

That now infamous moment was hardly the only confounding moment in Batman v Superman (see also: any scene featuring Jesse Eisenberg's maniacally whacked-out Lex Luthor), but one of the more genuinely surprising turns in the film was McNairy's appearance in the early moments of the action. Though McNairy had been steadily working in film and television in the years leading up to Batman v Superman, his casting in the film felt a little bit left field, if only because he'd never really been anywhere near a tentpole property before. 

For the record, it was likely Ben Affleck (who'd worked with McNairy on both Argo and Gone Girl) that got the young actor his Batman v Superman gig. If you're having trouble placing McNairy's face in the flick, he played Wallace Keefe, who was the Wayne Industries employee who lost his legs in Superman's epic Man of Steel battle with Zod before facing off with Superman in front of Congress. However the movie turned out, we still think McNairy was pretty good in that woefully undercooked role.