Robert Rodriguez made his New York Comic Con debut this past Saturday and he brought his pals from El Rey’s “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” with him. The Nerdist’s Clarke Wolf moderated the panel which featured D.J. Cotrona (Seth Gecko), Zane Holtz (Richie Gecko), Eiza González (Santánico Pandemonium), Jesse Garcia (Freddie Gonzalez), Madison Davenport (Kate Fuller) and Brandon Soo Hoo (Scott Fuller).
Rodriguez — the brains behind movies like the “Spy Kids” films, “Sin City” and “Planet Terror,” among a variety of others — launched the El Rey network in 2013. He referred to the line-up — a mix of old school movies and shows as well as new series’ like “The Director’s Chair” and “From Dusk Till Dawn” — as “basically Comic Con TV. It’s curated content. It can only be badass to be on the network.”
“From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” takes its foundation from the 1996 film of the same name penned by Quentin Tarantino, who also starred in the film as one of the criminal Gecko brothers. In the movie, the two brothers kidnap a family on vacation only to wind up in a Mexican bar infested with vampires, which are known as Culebras in the show. The story from the film was spread out throughout the first season of the show, but the second, which debuted in August, explores all new territory.
“Originally, when I made the film, the script didn’t have anything about the temple,” Rodriguez said in reference to the last shot of the film. It was something he just added in, but kept thinking about because the matte painting hangs in his house.
“Why don’t we go ahead and remake the film in a new way,” he eventually asked. “Even Quentin was surprised at how much we got out of his thinnest script.” He added, “That’s why people like it, it’s based on Quentin’s characters.”
Those characters find themselves spread out in season two, with the brothers Gecko split up for the first time ever but on the road to reunion. Rodriguez directed the first and last episodes of the season and plans to go out with a bang.
“It’s a bloodbath,” he said. “All roads lead to episode 10.”
He then proceeded to show off 10-15 minutes of that episode. The sequence included a tanker truck filled with blood, a bar packed with hungry vampires, Seth and Richie back together and a mega brawl set to some down and dirty rock and roll provided by the in-house band. “We brought back some of that old ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ magic,” Rodriguez said, referring to the mix of rock and over-the-top, bloody violence that made the movie so popular.
Both Cotrona and Holtz appreciated being able to do a bit of their own thing as the season kicked off, but also enjoyed getting back together on screen and set.
“For the first season, the majority of the work DJ and I did was together,” Holtz said. “We would rehearse together and knew how to play our parts as a duo.” He added that when apart it felt like they were “playing new versions of the characters.”
“We were like two exes seeing each other at the mall,” Cotrona added with a laugh.
This season also switched the viewer’s perspective on Santánico Pandemonium who appeared to be the villain in the first season and has turned out to be far more complex in the second.
“For me, it was very exciting to get to a second season because we had talked about this and this story,” González said. “Robert always empowers women. He puts us at a level that’s just a blessing. In the second she becomes this raw character.”
Davenport’s Kate has also gone through plenty of changes, but still felt she could help her brother Scott even after being turned into a vampire.
“Season two, Kate’s changed but the one thing she couldn’t change about herself is this unending faith in her Christianity and in that she could save her brother,” she said adding that even when it seemed like that faith was stripped form her, she still had a part of it.
Speaking of Scott, Soo Hoo said that his character might have a chance of being saved. “I think we’re all part of our own mission,” he said. “Starting from season one Scott felt lost. He didn’t feel like he belonged. He had no place. Throughout season two he starts finding himself. As he progresses, he climbs the ranks of the whole Culebra underground.”
But, he also said that Kate’s attempts to help might work out. “She’s a little chisel on my heart,” he said. “There’s still hope left, they’re still brother and sister after the change.”
Wilmer Valderrama’s vampire villain Carlos Madrigal also revealed himself to be a major player, something that fans of the actor’s work on “That ’70s Show” might not have expected.
“Sometimes I have casting ideas that are a little out of the box,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not something you’ve seen him do before.” The director added that he crafted the roll for him. The performance reminds him of Ricardo Montalban’s “Star Trek” villain Khan.
With the characters all heading back to the same place in an epic confrontation in the season finale, there’s plenty of violent action to look forward to when the episode debuts on Oct. 27.
Before signing off, Rodriguez did mention a few other projects. He interviewed Sylvester Stallone for his interview show “The Director’s Show.” The episode airs next month and is “the best episode” according to Rodriguez.
A fan also asked about his adaptation of artist Frank Frazetta’s animated film “Fire and Ice.” “I’m about to turn in a script for that,” Rodriguez said. “It’s really terrific. We should have some news soon.”
The first season of “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” can be binged on Netflix while the second continues this Tuesday at 9:00 PM.
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