A Cuban drug dealer, Juan appeared as one of the main characters in the drama film Moonlight. Through a series of events, he eventually becomes a father figure to the movie’s protagonist, Chiron. Played by Mahershala Ali, he makes his first appearance at the beginning of the first act titled, “Little.”
Despite having appeared throughout the initial third of the film, however, his character is gone by the time it enters the second act, “Chiron.”
What happened to him? What led him to disappear from the storyline? Does he return at a later point in the movie? These are some of the questions that we’ll be addressing below—so if you’re curious about the answers, be sure to keep reading!
Note: There will be spoilers for the film down below!
More About Moonlight
Written and directed by Berry Jenkins, Moonlight revolves around the main protagonist Chiron, whose life is presented in three different acts—“Little”, “Chiron”, and “Black.” As such, his character is played by three different actors, Alex Hibbert (Child Chiron), Ashton Sanders (Teen Chiron), and Trevante Rhodes (Adult Chiron).
Other members of the main cast include Janelle Monae, Ashton Sanders, Naomie Harris, and Jharrel Jerome. Set in Miami, the film explores the many difficulties of Chiron’s life—from his identity to his sexuality.
The first feature film with an all-black cast, Moonlight premiered in the United States on October 21, 2016. Met with praise, it has since grossed over $27 million in the U.S. and Canada, despite having been produced on a $4 million budget.
Lauded for the actors’ performances and cinematography, the movie earned stellar reviews from a number of publications including The Hollywood Reporter, Time Out New York, and Slant Magazine. In fact, it has since made it onto the top ten lists of numerous critics. A year after its release, The New York Times even hailed Moonlight as one of the “Best film of the 21st Century So far.”
As such, it’s not surprising to know that Moonlight has reeled in a considerable amount of accolades. Nominated for six Golden Globe Awards, it eventually went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Drama).
Not only that but it earned eight nominations at the Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture. For his portrayal of Juan, Mahershala Ali also became the first Muslin actor to win an Oscar.
What Happened to Juan in Moonlight? 2023 Recent Updates
In the critically acclaimed movie, Moonlight, we are introduced to a character named Juan, portrayed by the talented actor Mahershala Ali. Juan is a Cuban drug dealer who lives in Miami, but this character is so much more than his occupation suggests. His role in the movie is brief, yet significant and impactful.
Juan, in an unanticipated twist of fate, becomes a surrogate father figure to Chiron, the film’s protagonist, who is grappling with his identity and sexuality. Chiron, a young, vulnerable boy from a broken home, finds solace and guidance in the unlikely figure of Juan. His path intertwines with Juan’s when he finds Chiron hiding from bullies in one of his drug dens. Rather than shooing him away, Juan takes him under his wing, offering him food, shelter, and most importantly, emotional support and guidance.
However, in the narrative’s heartbreaking trajectory, we don’t see Juan throughout the entire film. After playing such an instrumental role in Chiron’s formative years during the first act of the movie, Juan disappears from the narrative. This abrupt vanishing act leaves audiences questioning – what happened to Juan in Moonlight?
The film doesn’t explicitly explain Juan’s absence; however, it subtly implies that he dies off-screen between the first and second acts. The news of his death is subtly conveyed through a scene where Chiron’s mother mentions that she no longer sees him around. This unexpected development leaves Chiron without the guidance and support he was receiving from Juan.
The departure of Juan from Moonlight is a poignant moment that accentuates the harsh realities of life. It also serves as a turning point in Chiron’s life who from thereon must navigate his life’s challenges without his mentor.
While Juan’s time in Moonlight was brief, his impact was long-lasting. He provided Chiron with a safe space and taught him valuable life lessons that remained with him long after his passing. Juan’s departure from the narrative serves as a stark reminder of the impermanence of life and the profound impact of fleeting relationships.