‘Ted Lasso’ Star Cristo Fernández Talks Tequila, Football, and What’s Next After Dani Rojas

Cristo Fernandez and the new Gran Centenario tequila campaign — "Incuestionable."

Cristo Fernandez

Cristo Fernández taps deep ties to soccer (football…) and a life growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, for a new Gran Centenario tequila campaign called “Incuestionable.”

Since wrapping the Emmy Award-winning Ted Lasso, Cristo Fernández—best known for his role as the enthusiastic, long-haired Dani Rojas on the aforementioned Apple TV+ series—has bounced around from London to Los Angeles to Guadalajara and back again. He’s been sleeping on friends’ couches, catching up with family, and doing anything possible to avoid the complacency many of us would let sneak in after such a successful burst into the spotlight.

But complacency isn’t part of Fernández’s nature. He’s been busier than ever—too busy to even settle on a place to live—setting up his production company, Espectro MX Films; starring in summer blockbusters, like Transformers: Rise of the Beasts; and becoming the face of Mexico’s No. 1 tequila, Gran Centenario, which is the reason we’re chatting.

Roots Run Deep

For those unaware, Fernández is from Guadalajara and as a teenager was a professional football player. However, a knee injury ended that career, leading him to pursue acting. It’s his life growing up in Jalisco and background as a football player that made him a shoo-in to work with Gran Centenario.

“It’s funny because there are many, many different tequilas in Mexico, of course, but Gran Centenario was the one we always chose because it was good and wasn’t crazy expensive,” Fernández says.

Gran Centenario is the tequila of the Mexican National Team and it’s that kind of legacy that continues to draw Fernández to the brand so many years later.

“I just love how it’s really deep rooted to the heritage in Mexico,” he adds. “When you talk to people about Gran Centenario, it’s always the image of class.”

For Fernández, partnering with Gran Centenario is a marriage of his passions. It combines the pride he has in his heritage as a Mexican and his love of football. He started playing when he was a kid with his eyes set on going pro. He would practice at night to keep his progress on track and started playing professionally when he turned 15.

“I think it’s been important in my career as an artist, filmmaker, and actor, having been part of the sport,” he muses.

The discipline and positive attitude required of playing football at such a high level are skills Fernández has been able to apply to his career.

“With my acting, football gave me my first great opportunity in a real project,” he says. “And, now, football has returned to me with my first big campaign that I feel proud of. Somehow, football is always there and I will be forever grateful to the sport.”

Cristo Fernandez and Ted Lasso cast

Opening Doors With Dani

The character of Dani Rojas became somewhat of a global sensation, which can often lead to an actor being pigeonholed. It’s easy to see casting agents continue to cast Fernández as different variations of his gregarious Ted Lasso character, but he’s managed to use it to his advantage.

It’s opened doors for the actor so far, he admits, like a letter of introduction.

“They remember Dani Rojas and the specific character he is and I know subconsciously people will assume that’s the range I can do,” Fernández says. “But it’s up to me to showcase I can do more things. And that’s why I’m developing my own company as well, Espectro MX Films. I’m producing things, I’m developing more projects. I’ve done indie films in Guadalajara.”

Fernández shot two films, in Guadalajara and Tapalpa, where he’s from. Corina will have a cinema release in February next year and the other, Sisters in Guadalajara, will be bilingual.

“I love drama, bilingual stories, multicultural stories, diverse stories. And that one [Sisters in Guadalajara] we’re hoping to announce a distribution situation in the second half of the year,” he says. “I’m starting post-production of another titled No Translation Required. So I’m keeping myself busy with my own projects.”

It’s been a successful perspective for Fernández stateside, too. He can now be found on Apple TV+ as well as in major motion pictures. This summer, he played the first Latino robot in the Transformers series, starring as Wheeljack in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. You’ll also be able to catch him in the upcoming season of Apple TV+’s Acapulco and Disney’s upcoming reboot of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

For the moment, however, Fernández is concentrating on Gran Centenario’s campaign.

“The fact they thought of me, it means a lot,” he says. “I’m just grateful. It’s about being the face of a brand I feel proud of—that it’s truthful to who I am and where I come from.”

Cristo Fernandez and Centenario Tequila

Creating a Campaign Cocktail

The campaign is called “Incuestionable” and finds Fernández mixing humor with the usual ambassador role. It also ties back to his roots with football and will be part of the Liga MX and MLS’s upcoming Leagues Cup, for which Fernández helped the brand develop a cocktail, the Gran Copa Paloma.

“It’s a good drink”, he says. “It has tequila, grapefruit soda, agave syrup, and some orange bitters. And you can add a bit of tajín because, as you know in Mexico, we love spicy. Everything has spice.”

If you want to drink more like Fernández, however, you’ll take a more minimalist approach.

“I normally drink tequila on the rocks,” he says. “It’s so funny, in London and in L.A., one big difference is that when I go to a bar in London, I ask for my tequila on the rocks with a glass of sparkling water. They’re like, ‘Wait, what are you asking me?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I just want a glass of tequila and a glass of sparkling water.’ That’s how I like to drink it. But for this, I wanted to come up with a cocktail. And I think this is fun. I love grapefruit. Grapefruit is probably my favorite because it always feels fresh.”

This piece was originally published by Men’s Journal and was written by Christopher Friedmann.

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