As season two of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series begins, we’re meeting new characters like Amancio Malvado (Esai Morales) and The Regulator (Danny Trejo). We’re also seeing our regular characters in a different light. Richie (Zane Holtz) and Santanico Pandemonium (Eiza Gonzalez) are back in the States tearing through the underworld. Kate (Madison Davenport) is watching Seth (D.J. Cotrona) hit rock bottom, and Freddie (Jesse Garcia) is holed up at home.
Robert Rodriguez brought the whole cast of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series to a panel for the Television Critics Association. I got to sit down one on one with his show runner Carlos Coto to talk about what’s coming up this season and how far we’ve come already. From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series airs Tuesday nights at 9PM on El Rey.
Nerd Report: Is the second season really all about Santanico?
Carlos Coto: Well, she’s one of the big spines. There’s probably about three main pillars. Santanico’s vengeance against Malvado for imprisoning her in the Titty Twister, that’s definitely one of the drives. She’s definitely at the steering wheel there but then Freddie’s journey is, to me, an equal parallel line on those train tracks. When you look at that movie, all these characters’ lives were completely turned upside down inside the Twister. Sure, it was this great horror sequence and they killed a lot of vampires, but when you imagine, which is what we did when we started talking about season two, you walk out of that place, imagine what you start thinking to yourself. “Well, the world’s a different place. I just witnessed something that I didn’t think ever existed,” that’s kind of scary. So that’s where we start with [Freddie]. His life’s completely different and he still doesn’t have the answer to where he belongs.
Nerd Report: Is there a big contrast between a new Culebra and a centuries old one like Santanico?
Carlos Coto: Well, for him, he’s not transformed so he’s just now figuring out his place. Where does he fit? He’s a guy who’s paranoid about them. He’s locked himself in his house and doesn’t want to get involved, but has these nightmares that are pulling him in. I think he feels like he’s being pulled into something bigger. It’s about destiny for him. It’s about where do I fit and how do I protect my family? Other storylines are obviously Seth and Richie:. Seth is trying to find his way. Again, everyone’s kind of asking that question of where do I fit, where do I belong? That’s the base question but within that there’s a goal. For Freddie it’s, I’ve got to protect my family.
Nerd Report: The Burt Lancaster speech sounded very Tarantino. Who wrote that?
Carlos Coto: That was in 201. I wrote that. Look, the characters were created by Quentin and Robert so we tried to honor those characters wherever we can and those characters obviously made those kinds of references in the movie, and in season one, so that’s all part of who they are. Actually, you get to find out where they got all that love of movies this season. That’s where you get to find that out with the Jeff Fahey character.
Nerd Report: You really channeled it.
Carlos Coto: Good, good. Zane hit it out of the park too. He killed it.
Nerd Report: Who built your Danny Trejo statue?
Carlos Coto: KNB, Greg Nicotero and KNB. They built it and Steve Joyner, the production designer, and Caylah Eddleblute did the basic thing of it. Then KNB came in and helped with the neck. That was all about Talos and Jason and the Argonauts. That was all Robert wanted to do. We had different ways he was going to come out and it was like “He could be a statue.” And he’s like, “Yeah, Talos.” That was all that was about. We just wanted a nod to that movie, literally. So that’s what we did and we built that. Then Muse, our digital effects company, merged Danny with it.
Nerd Report: Who has the statue now?
Carlos Coto: It’s in Troublemaker Studios standing right next to Robert’s office.
Nerd Report: Did Danny do a cast for that, or did they already have him?
Carlos Coto: I believe KNB had it from Machete movies because I don’t remember sending him in the schedule to KNB. All the actors go to KNB and get molded.
Nerd Report: Who was more insistent that Danny Trejo have a role this season: Robert Rodriguez, or Danny Trejo?
Carlos Coto: [Laughs] I think Robert was. The interesting thing about The Regulator was we didn’t really write it for Danny. We had this character called The Regulator. It was cool to bring him in and let him bring his special thing to it, rather than do all the obvious Trejo things. We got to really watch that character find its way with Danny.
Nerd Report: Is the second season really uncharted territory because you’re well past the movie?
Carlos Coto: Yeah, oh yeah. Totally. That’s another thing we loved about it. It was charted in the sense that we knew where we were going when we started. We have a broad sense of the big charts, the big things we want to do with the story. So what we did with retelling the film in the first season was use that to lay the groundwork for a bigger world. The crime world that had big mythology with it, characters with their own drives. One being Freddie, one being Santanico, him being a new character, Santanico being a smaller character in the film. She does her dance, then kills a bunch of people and dies. Part of what season one was about was establishing her as one of the protagonists of the show, which is why her story of vengeance is one of the main things.
Nerd Report: Are Santanico and Richie: in over their heads?
Carlos Coto: Yeah. She, because she’s out of the temple which she’s never been able to be out of. She doesn’t really know what the world’s like. He, because he’s a criminal who has joined a vast criminal organization with which he has no history and which he thinks he can control. That’s where it’s going.
Nerd Report: How much of this season had you already thought of when you were doing season one?
Carlos Coto: All the big pillars of stuff that I talked to you about – Santanico’s vengeance, Freddie’s journey, Seth and Richie: being apart – those big things we all knew. Then they started to take shape as we were telling the story of season one. Going through that, more things started to take shape and the pipe got laid. The stories are serialized. We’re three months after the first season. I just felt like that’s the rhythm of the film, so in this season I similarly recreate that rhythm. It’s not all one day the way the film was, but it’s a compact, tight period of time in which all of these characters from disparate areas come together and get drawn together by things you can’t control. So there’s always going to be that sense I think in every season.
Nerd Report: Do you know if Seth getting strung out and hitting rock bottom was ever the intended aftermath of the movie? Did Quentin and Robert always think Seth was full of sh*t and wasn’t going to hit it big in Mexico?
Carlos Coto: I think that for me, the characters in the film were always such confident, cool criminals, it’s always about putting them in a place that turns their world upside down. What happens when your world gets ripped apart? Seth’s whole world is Richie:, in the film too. That moment in the film when Richie: kills the teller and Seth says, “This is not us. This is not who we are.” He holds his brother and they’re practically crying, this is who Seth is. This is a guy who has been identified by his brother and protecting his brother his entire life. Now what happens when he doesn’t have him anymore? He loses him and it nearly kills him in the movie, but now we have the benefit of keeping them both alive but apart. So what does that do? That to me was always the challenge. To put it simply, Seth is a shark who’s stopped swimming. What happens when a shark stops swimming? That’s really the question we always want to ask with that character, because all he knows is the jobs and robbery.
Nerd Report: How hard is this season for Kate?
Carlos Coto: It’s pretty tough. Again, it’s that night. That night after the massacre, her brother bites her dad, she’s forced to kill her dad but her dad says, “Take care of your brother no matter what.” That’s really where she starts. How do I honor that and how do I keep myself? She’s the Christian character on the show which is really interesting. Faith has a lot to do with the show. While we don’t hit it head on, there is Freddie’s character, there is Kate’s character who obviously deals with her Christian morality. Then there’s the Culebras who have their own mythology and their own beliefs and their own things that they hew to, even though they’re not supposed to believe in things like prophecies. They all still have a faith to it because there’s a mysticism to this world that’s pretty sexy I think.