NYCC 2015: FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES INTERVIEW PART 4
Interview conducted by Karin Crighton
Robert Rodriguez’ cult-classic-turned-series From Dusk Till Dawn is heading into its second season finale on his own El Rey Network. The cast and Rodriguez joined reporters at New York Comic Con for a roundtable about the series, their characters, and working with a legend of indie film.
As this roundtable questions are regarding the second season, there are a spoilers from Season 1 through Season 2, Episode 7.
Reporter: There's been a lot of talk lately in the media about diversity in television and film. How does that play in From Dusk Till Dawn, especially with it having such a Latino presence both on-screen and off-screen?
Robert Rodriguez: It was intentional; this has been part of what I do since I started. With Desperado I had to make my own stars since there weren't many Latin actors that you could even cast that were bankable. I had to bring Antonio [Banderas] from Spain, the great Salma Hayek, and give Danny Trejo every movie possible so that he would be star; so that we would have a star system. When I had the idea to make this network, I thought this would be a continuation of that, but now we can do shows and train people behind the camera. Especially behind the camera, that's where we need people. Because from there they can go and move the needle; write, direct, produce features and television that are authentic in storytelling. That's why I picked From Dusk Till Dawn as the first show to do, I knew it would have a multi-ethnic cast, have a predominantly diverse writing room and directing room. [Latin] Representation on a regular network during primetime is 2-3% even though we're 17% of the country, our network is 60-70%. And it expands really quickly; when that's your mantra, that's the way you do business. That's the reason I did the network, I didn't do it to have more shit to do, I got enough stuff going on! I wanted something to pull voices from the audience and train people, whoever they may be, to come in and learn their craft.
Reporter: I'm watching how you're really able to expand the lore of From Dusk Till Dawn in the TV show and dig deeper; are there any other movies you'd want to do like this?
RR: There are some we could do it with, we have some ideas for some future shows that are more original ideas that aren't based on movies but are strong enough to be movies. So there could be something where we do a movie knowing we're already going to do a TV series. But if I had to, we could do Machete, Sin City, Desperado, a guy with a guitar case as a gun! I'm not currently doing that, though, I have some original ideas that are more exciting. But those would work...
Reporter: You have done such amazing work with the network, what are some future plans for El Rey? You mentioned Salma, have you talked with her about doing another movie?
RR: I have some movie ideas for her, but I would also love to get her into From Dusk Till Dawn as one of the lords. I have to write it first, then maybe get her to do it! It would be great if she came back to that world. But she's terrific. I saw her just recently, she's producing now, it's fantastic. For the network the plan is to just keep growing. We're in 40 million homes now, which is a lot, but we can get to 60. And to build up our digital side for those that don't have traditional cable. Just creating new shows for next year. Have you seen The Director's Chair? It's a show I have where I interview the directors. The best one is coming up, it's the one I did with Stallone. It's freaking awesome. You wouldn't even imagine; it's so moving and inspiration. People are really going to like it; it's surprising.
Karin Crighton: Looking at the series from the point of the Fullers, it seems to make a certain commentary that religion has lost its usefulness in current times. Is that intentional or is it just a casualty of the script?
RR: We just wanted to push everything further. We thought, this is a TV series, let’s really develop these story lines. Interesting things can happen when this very religious family goes into Hell, what happen when they come out of Hell? So we play with that a lot. You haven't seen the rest of the season yet, but you'll see some things – without giving anything away – that will make you be excited for the third season. But it was just an interesting character device, when people have a core belief that is completely different than what they're going to encounter. It builds conflict and you have to choose sides.
Reporter: I read you were doing a lot of research on the mythology for the show. Did you write anything for the series only to find out that it was true or extant in the mythology?
RR: We found stuff that felt like it; it aligned so well with what we were doing that it felt like it was meant to be! Some of it we had planned ahead of time, thinking there's nothing we find in mythology, let's just make it up, but we found a bunch of things. My show runner and my writers knew that was how I did the first time. Quentin [Tarantino] just had it originally set in a bar in Mexico, it wasn't originally a temple. I added all that in so it wouldn't be European vampires; it would be Mexican or Mayan or Aztec vampires. I started looking at mythologies to find anything that would fit. I found this snake cult and built it from there. That's why Salma's character was the only one in the film that had the snake motif. I just made it more consistent with the series.
Reporter: Getting to season three, is it now you have too much you want to get to? Is it forging its trail or hitting open expanse?
RR: We have so many characters; it's a goal of a TV show to have many characters to tell many stories. I had a bunch of characters from the first season and we've added to it; there's a lot to work with. We have a lot to maneuver around. We're in a really good place as far as having plenty to fill up a 10-episode season.
Reporter: The Santanico character was striking in the first film, but there wasn't as much to explore with her as there is in the series. Did you already have ideas in place for her whole backstory?
RR: Originally she was called “White Death”; Quentin had the idea to cast Madonna. She was just someone who came out and killed everybody then got killed right away. I said, “We can do something more. It's set in Mexico, we should make her Mexican. And I worked with this girl on Desperado...” So he rewrote it for Salma and called her Santanico, and I added the snake dance because I wanted to use the snake thing. The movie didn't have room for mythology the way the series does, but I try to stick in there. We have that shot of the temple; that wasn't in the script. I added all of that to add a historical context to it all. Just as a texture. When she got killed, even though she disappeared, I told her to smile as she disappears so we would think she wasn't really dead. And you'll notice Salma does a knowing smile as she disappears. In my mind, that's not how she's going to die. She shouldn't live forever, but maybe she tricked the gods. When we got to the TV series, I thought now we can make her a main character. I loved how when Quentin got into the bar, she zeroes in on him; I wanted to start the connection sooner and make it more. That's the whole season 1. It wasn't intentional when I made the film, but later when I would watch the movie over the years, I would think I really wish there was more between these two characters, Richie and Santanico. And now that's what the whole series in based on. It's fun when you get to go back and remake something you've already made because you get to do it better the second time!
Thank you to Robert Rodriguez!
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