NYCC 2015 Interview: Stars Zane Holtz and Eiza Gonzalez Talk ‘From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series’

In 1996, director Robert Rodriguez took audiences on a vampiric adventure unlike any other. The tongue in cheek horror/action spectacle ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ was a film that garnered a cult following and basically put Rodriguez on the genre map. Now in season 2 of the ‘Dawn’ series, we see a new side to the film’s characters and Rodriguez’s unique filmmaking style. Stars Zane Holtz and Eiza Gonzalez were kind enough to sit down with me at New York Comic Con to discuss the El Rey series and the direction in which it is headed. Here’s how that interview went:

What do you enjoy most about your character?

That I get to hang out with Zane all the time.  That is so not true.  What I like the most about Santanico is that it’s an amazing character.  As a female role in Robert Rodriguez world, it’s really interesting to be a part of this strong show.  You know, there’s male strong characters and then you would expect a, you know, girls to not be as strong as them, but being able to be Santanico and talk about a subject that is being abused and being used for, you know, bringing… she’s like the literally the pimp of the twister and she kind of wants to break free. She has a good soul but she’s been rotten by all these men.  She’s been used and abused and so obviously being part of this show and doing a character that females can look up to, you know, it’s really fun and it’s such a fun character as well because I get to be badass, but I also have this very sensitive side to her, and she’s very emotional even though she’s a vampire. She’s evil to herself, you get to see more evilness in him when he gets power than actually what she has isn’t evil character.  So you know it’s an interesting mix of a show.

You’re more just, you think.  You’re more right in your own actions and I’m more greedy?

Exactly, yeah. It is true though and you know it tells a bit of a story that of this person who is driven.  She wants vengeance she wants to kind of bring peace back into this world and she’s trying to save her people.  And she understands that the means are always going to be complicated. So she knows that some heads need to be chopped in order to really get to the big deal and so.  She’s just clear, she’s not evil or bitter, she’s just honest and cold and just goes for what she has to do.  She has to eat people and kill the way to get to a bigger source than she does.  And so you know that’s also like the humanity and part of our nature, we have that, we actually have our instincts to survive.

Eating other people?

Eating other people, well, (laughter) if I had to and I was starving, I would eat other people.  You know, you never know survival.

I would definitely not eat a person. (laughter)

You would, you would.

I wouldn’t

You would.  If there was no food and you would die, you would be like (high-pitched) “I’m not going to eat someone, I’m going to die.”

I think that I would….no I saw that movie, what is it, Alive?  Yeah, I just… I don’t know I don’t think I would be down.

You’d have to be in a situation to actually.

He wouldn’t survive, you see, I would survive.

You don’t know until you’re in that position.

Maybe with a little hot sauce?

You cook it.  Quick, you eat it.

You actually covered a lot about Santico. I kind of want to ask the question to Zane because it will color a lot of the other questions that I want to ask, and if you think this is a little off-color just cut me off, but there is a very large community online of people who are autistic and see a lot of themselves in Rich, and I was wondering if you ever had a discussion with the writers, the showrunners, or if you yourself think about that while playing him as if you think he is like an autistic character, if you see any of that in him.

I don’t want to speak and say that I am versed enough in autism to say whether or not that is true, but I get from what I do know that I guess you can see that maybe his social cues are a little bit different than other peoples and he picks up on things a little bit different than some of the other characters do and they kind of, you see in the first season that the actions are… he seems distracted, and his brother doesn’t know what he’s doing and what is kind of effecting him and why he is acting in this way. So that’s interesting because I never really, that never really came up with the writers, but that is cool that people are looking into it and perceiving it in different ways.

Yeah, he’s become a really powerful character.

Yeah yeah, he’s kind of overcome the, you know, he had some hurdles he had to jump over in the first season.  And seeing things that no one else can see and having to kind of process that the best way he can and now in season 2 we’ve kind of seen him bloom into this other guy and kind of take control and get out from underneath his brother’s shadow and kind of be his own man.

So with Santanico, I got to see some of other episodes, episodes 8 and 9, we see a sort of progression with her story line with Poloma, how did you feel about that storyline and where it took her character?

I love that storyline, I feel it’s such as crucial storyline to really understand Santanico. I think at the end of the day, she is super intelligent, calculating, you know, she understands, you know, there’s that scene we have where we’re sitting down and I’m like, “We can eat them.”  She’s much more primal in that way she’s in the first scene and he’s like “What’s the rule, not eating civilians.” And I think at the same time Richard is being introduced to this world, and I’m being introduced to THE world because I’ve been locked into the Titty Twister so it’s like these two kind of like a co-dependent relationship really feeding each other, but when Poloma comes into the storyline, you start really understanding that, you know, there is that scene where I go, “They are not going to touch you,” and when she is saying these lines….

She’s talking about herself somewhat…

She’s talking about herself, she’s really reflecting herself and this is what she had when Santanico came into this world, so it’s a really beautiful relationship because it shows the true colors of the character, really shows that she is a human and that also we make bad choices, you know.  I like that the series allows the characters to do bad choices, and it’s not always like, oh, and then we triumph on the decision like you see her go down and goes south, and Carlos gets me and you know, we have those moments and the characters do bad choices, and I think that’s cool, and I think that every character has it throughout the season, and you know every in that it was very important because in the first season you really get to understand Santanico, and it’s more of a dream to Richard, and she looks more like a goddess…

She’s like an idea, and I see it like she is more like a promise or something that I’m being drawn to and why am I being drawn to it.  I think what you’re saying is super interesting they did a really good job, I think the writers did a really good job this season of kind of exposing Santanico to this machine that’s she’s kind of been feeding and influencing and really throwing it in her face.  Hey, there’s these trucks full of people that are being shipped to the Culebras now that you’re not there and kind of she’s been in there for 5,000 years or whatever, so really seeing the world that she has, whether wanting to be a part of or not, this sort of system that she has helped to create…

And it is in her nature to you know…

And my character is kind of oblivious to that.  You see, throughout this season we get into a lot of arguments where I’m just like, “Yeah, whatever, okay your problems, great.  I’m trying to take this money.  What are you not understanding?”  So you’re really see that come to a head over the course of the next few episodes where her agenda and my agenda really clash and cause some sort of a rift between us.

Zane, so you’re portraying a character who never really saw a third act in the first film.

Correct, he just kind of turned into… (laughs)

Exactly, now how does it feel to continue his story almost 10 years later…

20 years later man… came out in ’95, ’96 so… we are about 18 to 19 years in when we shot the first season.  I was glad to be able to continue the story just because I thought there was more that could be done with Richie. I didn’t think Richie’s story was done yet in the show and I wanted to be able to keep playing him and then selfishly I wanted to still have a job, of course. (laughs) I was kind of waiting around the first whole season like, “Are you guys going to kill me? Or what’s going to happen?”  Because I didn’t really, I mean, I know that I had a deal to come back for more seasons, but I didn’t know just because I have that, they can still kill you, it doesn’t matter so I was glad to see when got to last few episodes that Richie was going to kind of take Santanico, and they were going to take off.

By the way, half of the cast dies.  Almost everyone.  So that’s fun.

That was great, and I’ve said this in other interviews, but I think that where we are now season 2 and beyond is and was the ultimate goal for the show.  We redid the film in season one to kind of reestablish these characters, we introduce them I mean when you have characters like that, Santanico and the Gecko brothers there’s no other really any real way, if you’re going to use those characters to jump in to the show without really that process of having these two brothers that are bank robbers and they’re sort of in a realistic crime driven world and then the left turn that comes when you get to the temple and then there’s the bar and there’s the vampires just as we’re being exposed to it, the audience is being exposed to it, so we had to do the movie for the first season but the goal was to be here and that’s why we’re all so happy to be here in season 2 and to tell new stories and hopefully continue to tell new stories.

Yeah, and even Robert said it, he mentioned it to us for him to be able to revisit his work and there was so many things like even he sees his work and says that this didn’t make much sense and he wanted to redo.  Like the first story throughout the first five episodes that I’m talking to him in the movie you don’t really get to see that so you think that this guy is crazy, you know what I mean.  In this he really wanted to introduce that world before so it really blends in a little bit more like you know it’s really cool to see someone who is as creative as Robert and honestly go back to his work of 20 years ago and be like what did I do wrong what worked what didn’t work what do I want to redo and that is amazing just to be a part of that world and really they had scenes that were really a part of the movie that weren’t able to fit in the movie so we got to do in the show.

Yeah, the scene with Brandon where, Brandon who plays Scott Fuller, we’re up in the hotel talking about, “Hey, do you watch Bruce Lee movies… you kind of look like Bruce Lee or whatever.”  That scene was in the original shooting script for From Dusk Till Dawn the film, and it just never made it in.  And there’s that whole shoot-out scene that happened at the hotel in season one that was supposed to be in the film as well but do to budget and rewrites and timing or whatever it just didn’t happen so a lot of the stuff that we revisit in the first season or expand upon in the first season was ideally going to be there in the first place.

Yeah, real Quentin Tarantino pages, you know.

We just go the opportunity to do it and make it exist with Robert.

We see 3 major characters that are abuse victims in the show, Santanico, Richie, and Seth.  And Richie is the one who burns the house down to save his brother, and I almost feel like there is sort of a mutual understanding between Richie and Santanico as people who have been abused that they do sort of have to, like I feel even though they are like agendas cross, do you feel like there is still an understanding that she just kind of wants to cut it off, cause he kind of did like the exact same thing to his abuser.

I mean, I think there is probably a reason why Santanico chose Richie to be the one that she’s going to call out to and kind of help him escape from…

She sees like the potential in him.

She saw that I was maybe the guy that would be able to for whatever reason have that calling and come and save her but now that you’re out, you kind of see maybe she doesn’t love me, maybe she’s using me or maybe she does but those are the kind of layers and the things that we get to see in the show.

And also every character in the show goes through abuse if you analyze it.  I go through it with Malvado, Carlos goes through it with Malvado you know he’s used and Richie’s abused by Malvado the Fullers, Kate Fuller, is abused because she basically eventually the whole mother dad story how they had to take care of their dad, everyone has had certain scarring throughout the show and I think that’s the loveable thing about Robert and Quentin, they write intelligent characters that people can relate in various ways you know he has she has the family issues, he has a father daughter like this is abusive relationship Santanico with Malvado which is kind of dark because she looks at him as a male figure…

He created you yeah…

So you know what I mean every single character in the show has that and we always mention there’s bad, there’s worse, and there’s even worse in this show, there’s not like good and bad.

Everybody is badass.

Yeah, everyone is badass for sure.

Thanks you so much.

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