Fernando Colunga returns to US TV screens
Courtesy Telemundo

MIAMI - After facing significant obstacles, hidden behind saints that protect drug traffickers and kidnappers on one side, and demons on the other, Mexican actor Fernando Colunga is set to make his long-awaited return to U.S. Spanish-language television with "El Conde: Amor y Honor."

Colunga, known as the quintessential telenovela heartthrob, has been absent from American TV screens since 2016 when his last project, "Pasión y Poder," aired on Univision. The last eight years of Colunga's professional life have been marked by a mix of voluntary and forceful retreat from the limelight, missed lucrative contracts, and a remake of a legendary telenovela that never made it across the border.

The Disappearance of Fernando Colunga

During the first five years of his hiatus, Colunga's whereabouts and activities remained largely unknown. He turned down roles in "Mi marido tiene familia" and "Sin tu mirada," both of which went to other actors. Eventually, Colunga parted ways with Televisa, the Mexican TV giant, after it changed its full-time contract system. Since 1988, when he debuted as Eduardo Yañez's double in "Dulce Desafío," Colunga had been a staple in annual telenovela productions.

During his time away, Colunga explored various business ventures, including developing a film festival in the Dominican Republic. However, he remained largely away from the public eye.

A Million-Dollar Deal

In January 2021, Telemundo announced an unprecedented deal with Colunga, in which he would develop projects for the network. The first of these was "Malverde, el santo patrón" a series about the 'patron saint' of criminals in Mexico. However, Colunga exited the project just before filming began, citing personal reasons. Pedro Fernández replaced him, but the show failed to succeed despite its quality.

Colunga's second Telemundo project was "El secreto de la familia Greco," based on the Argentine series "Historia de un clan" and a film about a family of kidnappers. Due to its violent content, it went straight to Netflix with little advertising, and, consequently, it had minimal visibility.

FErnando Colunga El secreto de la familia Grecco
Courtesy Telemundo/Netflix

"El Conde," Colunga's third Telemundo project, features him alongside Ana Brenda Contreras and Marjorie de Sousa. Although fans feared the production would never see the light of day, filming wrapped in mid-2022. Shortly after, Colunga's contract with Telemundo ended, reportedly worth millions, a testament to his enduring appeal.

"Filmed in Mexico, this captivating drama tells the story of Alejandro, an intelligent and attractive foreman who transforms into a wealthy and powerful man to take revenge on those who wronged him. Alejandro's fate changes when he meets and falls in love with Mariana, a beautiful woman from high society. But this love story turns into a nightmare when Alejandro is unjustly sentenced for a crime he did not commit. Twenty years later, Alejandro escapes from prison and returns as the powerful Count of Montenegro, marking the beginning of his dangerous revenge against those responsible for his imprisonment," says the official description of "El Conde: Amor y Honor."

Returning Home

Once his Telemundo contract was over, Colunga returned to Televisa to film "El maleficio", with Marlene Favela as his leading lady and Julián Gil as his antagonist. This telenovela did air in Mexico but did not reach U.S. audiences, despite media coverage and interviews. Fans speculated about a curse, linking it to the narco-saint Malverde and the demon Bael from "El Maleficio."

Finally, Colunga is set to return to U.S. television, thanks to the legendary French writer Alexandre Dumas. Telemundo announced that "El Conde," inspired by Dumas's "The Count of Monte Cristo," will premiere on July 1st in prime time, replacing "El Señor de los Cielos." Colunga's long-awaited return to U.S. screens is eagerly anticipated by his fans, who are counting down the days until the first episode airs.

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