Actor Gabriel Luna paid a special visit to St. Edward’s University during this year’s Scholarship Audition Weekend, hosted by the Department of Performing Arts. Luna — a former theater student — met with hundreds of Hilltoppers and sat down with the Marketing and Communications division for an interview reflecting on his time at St. Edward’s and his role on HBO’s post-apocalyptic series, The Last of Us.

Gabriel Luna as Tommy in HBO's The Last of Us

Gabriel Luna as "Tommy" in HBO's The Last of Us

                                                                 Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO
Gabriel Luna and Pedro Pascal in HBO's The Last of Us

Gabriel Luna and Pedro Pascal in HBO's The Last of Us

                                                                    Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO

At a young age, Luna never would have imagined seeing his name featured in the credits of blockbuster hits or critically acclaimed television shows.

He was an avid student-athlete at Crockett High School in Austin, Texas, with high hopes of receiving college football scholarships for his athleticism. However, his expectations took a turn after suffering a shoulder injury during his senior year — little did he know this incident would lead to the discovery of his passion for performance art!

Gabriel Luna posing in front of MMNT at St. Edward's University

Gabriel Luna at the Mary Moody Northen Theatre

SEU President Montse Fuentes and actor Gabriel Luna

President Montserrat Fuentes and Gabriel Luna

At the encouragement of his mentors, Luna enrolled in a technical theater class at Crockett High, where he built sets and read plays to study set design. Impressed by his reading performance, his theater teacher encouraged him to try out for the leading role in their upcoming play, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He initially declined due to stage fright, but soon found motivation after watching a video of his late father — who passed away before he was born — performing in a church play. This was the first time he had seen the video — discovered by his grandmother — and it gave him the strength he needed to audition. “I took it as a sign that I should try out. After seeing this video, I felt a surge of courage and decided to say ‘yes’,” Luna remembers.

Gabriel Luna posing with St. Edward's University students

Hilltoppers attend a meet-and-greet with Gabriel Luna in the Main Building

Luna’s audition was a success and he was cast as the lead character— his powerful performance in that high school production caught the attention of Dr. Melba Martinez, the former artistic director for the Mary Moody Northen Theatre at St. Edward’s University, who helped him receive a theater scholarship at the hilltop. To this day, Luna continues to praise the theater program at St. Edward’s for shaping him into the artist he is and says, “the way it’s structured helped to cultivate skills that I would take into cinema and not just theater.”

Enjoy our photo gallery of Gabriel Luna’s visit at St. Edward’s University

Watch a special video interview with Gabriel Luna about his time at the Hilltop

Enjoy our video interview with Gabriel Luna about his role on HBO’s The Last of Us