NYCC 2015: FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES INTERVIEW PART 3
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.
Eiza González plays culebra Santanico Pandemonium, overthrower of the vampire lords, and Zane Holtz plays Richie Gecko, the troubled, serial killer half of the Gecko Brothers.
Reporter: I love how Richie and Seth are back together, and the chemistry blew up with Jeff Fahey! Tell me about working with them this season.
Zane Holtz: It was cool, man. I'll get to DJ [Controna, who plays Seth Gecko] first. There was that true need, like the character was feeling. You're missing your brother even though you're pissed at him; the same was true for me and DJ. We spent five episodes of this season not working together. We'd see each other on weekends, but we didn't get to work together. So when we got on the set again and had some dialogue, it was a cool reunion for the characters and for us as actors. That's one of my favourite shots of this second season, when he comes in, shoots the guy, ducks around the corner, I eat everybody, then we go out and we're doing the walking/talking argument again. With Jeff I got to have a couple of scenes with him separately and DJ got to have a couple scenes with him separately. Every scene, even though DJ may not be there, we're talking about him or vice versa. Then when we all come together, it was very cool. We only have one or two scenes all together before Jeff...became...
Eiza González: Dead?
ZH: Before he died. It was fun; some of my favourite stuff. I have yet to see Episode 7.
EG: You haven' t seen it? It's really cool.
ZH: No, I haven't seen it. I was in New York all this week but I heard his death scene is pretty good, so I'm looking forward to seeing it.
EG: They teared up a little bit. You cried a little.
ZH: You gotta bring the feels.
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Reporter: So we heard from Madison that real strength of the show is that her character has not become a damsel in distress when that's an easy thing that could have happen. How do you feel about your character in terms of not letting these female characters fall into these classic tropes, especially with yours dealing with trauma and regaining her power?
EG: I think it's Robert Rodriguez. He's never going to let his female characters become that damsel in distress, that victim. These women understand their circumstances, that they've been scarred and damaged, but they always look forward: how do I fix it, or how do I get better? How do I grow from this? I think that's brilliant. The moral compass between the two lead females is very interesting. Kate is day, but Santanico is night. You think Seth Gecko is a badass, watch the second episode: [Santanico] is calling the shots.
ZH: [laughing] He's just dealing with his sadness.
EG: [Richie Gecko] says, "No, let's not eat civilians," and she says, "We're going to eat civilians." It's really cool that the characters clash, they're strong powerful women. So to be around men who are super powerful and having women on the same level of power, as an actress, is fun to play and inspiring for women watching the show. It's cool to touch such delicate subjects of [Kate] being the stronger character in her family, her father, her brother.
ZH: Kate is the rock of the Fuller family.
EG: And Santanico dealing with the abuse, being taken by these men, tossed and turned left and right. She has a scene with Carlos (Wilmer Valderama) where she tells him, "You're not going to break me." She's moving forward all the time.
Reporter: With a character like Richie, he does a lot of evil stuff, but you feel sympathetic for him. How do you keep from going too far with a character like that?
ZH: Going too far is out of my hands; they write what I have to do. My goal when I took on the character was to make him more sympathetic and I think that was helped when they wrote I was affected by outside things making me do the things I'm doing.
EG: Women; it's always women.
ZH: I'm attacking what I think at the time are truly demons. Like the girls at Benny's, or I think Don Johnson’s character is out to get me for sure, even though he has no idea what's happening. So I think that helped make the character more sympathetic. When I approach the material I try to bring the troubled-ness and the reluctance to do the things I have to do, and to be emotional about it. Now in Season 2, I'm going to be the bad guy. I'm out from my brother's shadow, I know that demons exist, so how can I go about taking that demon-underworld power for my own? That's going to be the big clash between Ezia's agenda and mine. Or Santanico's. Not your personal agenda.
EG: It's Ezia's agenda also.
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Reporter: Talking about this strong woman and I think right now as an actress you in that position. You've made comments on your Instagram to that effect of taking charge.
EG: I think this does have to do with this stage of my life. As an actor, that's your job. There are things you really connect with; "Oh, that job really helped me understand a part of me that I didn't before". I think that's happened with Dusk. I come from Latin America and I started in soap operas and I was a teenage pop-culture girl. That wasn't who I was. There are people like Robert Rodriguez who come and see something in you and really trust and [he] really made me trust myself. When I walked into that [audition] room, I didn't think I was going to be able to play Santanico, especially with the references that I had. "Oh, here I go, trying to be Salma [Hayek, who originated the role in the 1996 film]. So having that work really changed myself. I became more of a woman, became responsible, more understanding about things, leaving my country, interpreting my character, giving her a life, I have to live and breathe it to give this life. So it's really helped me personally and made me grow as an actress. I started when I was 13 in this industry and now I'm a 25-year-old woman. Things have changed. You go forward. I'm so thankful that characters like these come into your life and teach you so many things. This character goes through abuse, she goes through rape, she's literally a blood mule for the vampire lords. She has crazy PTSD; I can't carry myself as the character in the same I am speaking to you, the character has to have that heaviness to itself. Just believing that makes you wake that part of persona. I'm lucky to be work with Robert, a director that guides you to that.
Karin Crighton: The snake cult that Santanico is an integral part of, did you do any research of that? You have a very specific movement process, is it related?
EG: People ask me all the time, we did study that in Mexico in elementary school! It's the story of the Aztecs and the Mayans. I had it to study for my exams. Speaking about our culture, I love that Robert uses this show to broadcast the story of the amazing mythological culture we have in Latin America. I love that instead of turning us in to vampires, we are culebras because snakes are such an important part of our history. We all did, I clearly remember this scene with Wilmer where he does this thing [mimics his snake like neck-twist] with his head that just...you have to get that corporal element. Santanico is a stripper; the way she speaks to and touches people is part of that. We went through all that, all the snakes have their own touch to it and being educated in that aspect of knowing the mythological aspect of it really helped me. I understand what we're talking about. It comes easy to me. But you have to give your own movements to the characters. I think it's so cool that Richie has this special movement - sorry, Zane, you don't have it real life - okay, you do [laughs]. Everyone did that special work. The way DJ moves for Seth is so interesting. We are blessed that we have a really disciplined cast and they all love their work. They really get into their job and dedicate their soul and heart to do the best possible version of what they have.
Thanks to Eiza González and Zane Holtz!
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