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Q&A: Wilmer Valderrama talks “FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES”

With FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES’ second season now on DVD/Blu-ray and streaming on Netflix Instant, FANGORIA looks back at our exclusive interview with star Wilmer Valderrama from the set of the series at Troublemaker Studios.

FANGORIA:  How were you cast? Tell us about your character, and his arc through the series.

WILMER VALDERRAMA:  A year ago, I had had a meeting with Robert for a different character on the show and he never—didn’t hear back, and then a couple weeks into production I see that they’re already in production, I get a call back from Robert Rodriguez, he texts me, and so he says, “Hey man, I got your number from Alexa Vega, I hope you don’t mind, we just created this character for you, I think it would be really cool for you to come and play it,” and I was like, “YES!” I didn’t even ask what the character was, I already wanted to work with him and so he said, “Cool, let’s just get you out here!”

I was in Miami at the time, I flew in to Los Angeles, and the next day after landing in Los Angeles I’m flying to Austin, Texas. I landed in Austin, Texas, I get off the plane, I go down to baggage and see a sign that says ‘FROM DUSK TILL DAWN’, and I go ‘Holy shit, that’s awesome!’ I get in the van, go straight to Troublemaker Studios, go straight into wardrobe, to realize that I have no idea what I’m playing! I have no idea!

At that point, I haven’t read a script, I don’t know the character, and all of a sudden [Rodriguez] says, “Hey man, we’re excited to have you here,” and then all of a sudden the wardrobe department goes, “Yep, we didn’t know who was gonna play Carlos,” and I go “OK! I have no idea what I’m playing. do you mind telling me exactly what I’m supposed to be doing here?” And then finally, she goes, “Oh, you’re gonna be our bad guy!” And I was so excited! I’m like, “That’s pretty fuckin’ awesome, y’know?”

It’s not that it was my mind. It was just that in the universe of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, in the universe of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, the bad guys in their universe are just so kick-ass. Immediately, you go, “OK, well that’s the kind of character I want to play!” So I was really stoked to hear that Robert gave me that opportunity and I just came in here and he said, “Let’s just create him from scratch!”

What he told me was I was five hundred years old, and that I came to discover the Aztec and Mayan torture through a trip from Spain in a ship. I came in as a conquistador, and also I discover Satanico, so Satanico and I partner up. Five hundred years later, we find ourselves in The Titty Twister.

FANGORIA: So you’re undead?

VALDERRAMA: Yes. She basically made me immortal.

FANGORIA: How is it to wear the make-up?

VALDERRAMA:  It’s actually not bad. The makeup is not exactly—The worst part is the eyes, for me. These reptile/snake eyes I have. The contact lenses.

FANGORIA: You’re able to see?

VALDERRAMA:  Kind of. You can see enough to not hit the wall, y’know? But anything below you, you can’t see.

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FANGORIA: How does the makeup help with your acting?

VALDERRAMA:  Something magical happens to you, something really crazy happens when you look at yourself in the mirror and you go, “Okay, you’re a monster. And you’re to do this, and do that.” This season I have a different look.

FANGORIA: Do you know how your character will evolve? Or who it’s based on, historically?

VALDERRAMA:  At the end of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, when George Clooney and Juliette Lewis make it out of The Titty Twister, you see two cars roll up, and you see Cheech Marin get out in a black shirt, and his name is Carlos. And he goes, “Of all the bars, of all the bars to meet at, we meet at this fuckin’ bar!”—this is what George Clooney tells Cheech,  and Cheech says, “Ah man, I just thought it was a bar, man!”

So what Robert did, he grabbed that character, made a mythology that the entire time the Gecko brothers were there to meet him, so he was helping the Gecko brothers get to The Titty Twister, because that’s where the deal was gonna happen. So then, he [Rodriguez] said, “Let’s expand more on that guy. Let’s make him kind of like the puppeteer of getting the Gecko brothers to come to The Titty Twister.” Then we went deeper into the plot, and understood that Richie was the chosen one to help Santanico be freed from the prison which lies beneath The Titty Twister, which happens to be also a feeding ground for vampires. And I’m the owner of The Titty Twister; I’ll be at the bar.

FANGORIA: So that’s some part they gave you!

VALDERRAMA:  Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. Trust me, it was really beautiful to actually get here and understand that I was going to be such a crucial part to the story. I’d always wanted to work with him, it was a dream of mine to be in this Robert Rodriguez universe, and to play this kind of bad guy in the first miniseries for him was pretty cool.

FANGORIA: Speak about the diversity of this amazing El Rey crew, and its dedication to genre.

VALDERRAMA:  It’s really interesting, there’s thousands of channels available to people, and there’s not one channel dedicated to the awesome shit that we love, like kung fu movies.

FANGORIA: There’s a lot of Latino representation here in front of and behind the camera, and with genre entertainment so perennially popular among non-white audiences, there’s still relatively little representation in the genre.

VALDERRAMA:  The last ten years of entertainment have been a very humbling experience for the studios and the networks. They’ve lost tons and tons of money to the miscalculation of what they feel within their very old, stale views of what the audience does like and dislike, and what they produce. They fail to create an organic communion between the audience and the channels now and the content.

So lately it seems the Latino community has grown at such an extraordinary level that we are the go-to audience for box office, for appointment TV, for buying music, and concerts. We’re the people that actually get out of the house the most. We’re the people that actually have the most loyalty to the things that we like.

FANGORIA: Also I’ve heard most loyal with repeated viewings, especially of genre films; you don’t go once, you go so many times.

VALDERRAMA:  For sure. You go a couple of times, and you bring the whole family. So in the numbers, you go, “Okay, there’s something epic going on here, and we all need a destination that our long-time studios and networks have never given us at all.” At the very least, welcome us or send us an invitation to the party. We’ve never asked, “Listen I want to be the star, everybody leave.” We just want to be invited to the party, that’s really all it is, and if you invite us to the party, we not only bring the family with us, but we’ll help you cook, we’ll help you celebrate, we’ll play the music, you know what I mean? We will make a good party out of it, y’know? [Laughter.] But until we’re invited, we’re gonna be underrepresented.

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is now available on DVD/Blu-ray from Entertainment One as well as streaming on Netflix Instant. Look for more on FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES here at FANGORIA.com!

About the author
Heather Buckley
Heather has a dual career as a Producer (Red Shirt Pictures) and a film journalist. Raised on genre since the age of 13, she’s always been fascinated by extreme art cinema, monster movies and apocalyptic culture. Her first love was a Gorezone no. 9 bought at Frank's Stationary in Keyport, NJ. She has not looked back since. Follow her on Twitter @_heatherbuckley
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