Michael Stahl-David and Matt Whelan in a scene from season three of Narcos.
Michael Stahl-David and Matt Whelan in a scene from season three of Narcos. Juan Pablo Gutierrez/NETFLIX

NARCOS: New agents mean business

THE new agents on the beat aren't to be underestimated in the new season of Narcos. The first two seasons of the popular drug drama series focused on the criminal exploits of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

After the death of Escobar at the end of season two, the authorities have set their sights on a new target. The DEA and CIA focus on Escobar's rivals, the Cali cartel, with Javier Pena (Pedro Pascal) returning to Bogota to oversee the DEA's investigations.

Christchurch native Matt Whelan joins the cast this year as DEA agent Daniel Van Ness who, along with his partner Chris Feistl (Michael Stahl-David), enters the operation with enthusiasm and inexperience.

"He's at first very reluctant to be dragged into that scene," Matt says. "He's very happy in his position in the office pushing papers and really has no desire to be on the front line. But when he's dragged there, he becomes quite passionate and driven about the mission itself."

The new agents are underestimated by the cartel and the local police officers on its payroll. Matt was able to draw on the time he spent with the real-life Chris Feistl while the show was filming in Colombia.

"A lot of the time these guys were operating in Cali without a lot of support or any kind of back-up ... you had to be on your game all the time," he says.

"They're these two big American dudes who are wearing (baseball) caps to be more incognito but they're very obviously American. They had to do what they could to stay undercover and not be compromised."

Matt, best known for his roles in Go Girls and American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story, admits his Spanish is still shocking despite his eight months working on the bilingual drama in Colombia.

"It's embarrassingly bad," he laughs. "I had all the best intentions to be fluent by the end of it."

He's full of praise for the country, which he hopes will be recognised for its culture and natural beauty.

"Most of the people I talked to were really excited about the show, but it's a topic that they don't really want to forever be associated with their country," he says.

"It's such a beautiful country ... we were very lucky we are able to shoot there and in some of the real locations that these events happened."

Season three of Narcos premieres on Netflix on Friday.