It’s often a natural reaction for people to want to work with, and honor, the people they admire the most in their lives. But they don’t always want to embrace that dedication, or too heavily emulate their idols, either out of respect for their values, or their sudden disappointment in their recent decisions and actions. That’s one of the most intriguing and alluring aspects of the current 10-episode second season of the horror action crime show, ‘From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series.’ Actors D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz play brothers Seth and Richie Grecko on the show, during which the characters remain loyal to each other out of respect for their familial bond. However, due to the decisions the brothers made throughout the first season, they have both come to question their loyalty to each other.

Season 2 of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,’ which premiered on August 25 on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network, airs new episodes every Tuesday at 9pm ET. The series is based on the 1996 black comedy-horror film of the same name, which Rodriguez directed and edited. The film was written by Quentin Tarantino, who also played Richie, while George Clooney originated the role of Seth. Rodriguez also developed the show, for which he has directed six, produced 12 and wrote 14 episodes for since its launch last year.

Cotrona and Holtz generously took the recently to participate in a conference call to discuss Seth and Richie’s changing allegiances during the second season of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,’ as well as their experiences working with Rodriguez, who they’ve both long admired. They also talked about emulating Clooney and Tarantino’s performances to a certain degree, as they also respected their portrayals of the Grecko brothers in the film. But Cotrona and Holtz didn’t want to copy too much of Clooney and Tarantino’s approaches in their representations of the iconic characters on the action-driven horror crime show.

‘From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series’ first season followed hardened bank robber Seth Gecko, who was broken out of prison by his mentally unstable and violently unpredictable brother, Richie. Richie has also recently begun having visions of a mysterious woman who urges him to kill, and invites him to find her. The Gecko brothers are also being pursued by the FBI and Texas Rangers Earl McGraw (Don Johnson) and Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia), after a bank heist leaves several people dead.

While on the run to Mexico, Seth and Richie encounter former pastor Jacob Fuller (Robert Patrick). The pastor decides to take his daughter Katie (Madison Davenport) and adopted son Scott (Brandon Soo Hoo) on an RV vacation into Mexico, after the death of the family matriarch. After the Grecko brothers take the family hostage, and hide on their RV to cross the border, where they’ll be sheltered by Cartel boss Don Carlos (Wilmer Valderrama). But chaos ensues when the group detours to the Titty Twister, a strip club that is populated by culebras. The group must defend themselves until dawn, when they can carry out their escape.

When the actors were first asked what drew them to their respective roles as the Gecko brothers in the horror series adaptation of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn,’ Holtz revealed that “Initially, I just jumped at the chance to work with Robert. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, but the opportunity to work with him had never presented itself (to me).” He added that when he had the chance to audition for the show’s creator, executive producer, director and writer, “I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

Holtz added that “Going into the audition process, I didn’t have a lot of information” about his character of Richie and the show’s overall storyline, besides the pages of the script that he was given. “To me, that didn’t matter, as I knew that I was going to do something cool with Robert,” he explained. The actor added that he was aware of the film’s story before he auditioned for the series. He also thought the show’s developer would be able to take the freshest approach to creating an innovative story for television’s latest vampire show.

The actor also admitted that he first auditioned for the role of Seth, but Rodriguez then decided that he would ultimately connect better with Richie. “So I came back to audition for him as Richie…I went through the process and read with D.J., and we ended up working well together as the Grecko brothers, and that’s how I was cast,” Holtz revealed.

Cotrona added that he was attracted to his role of Seth, as well as ‘From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series’ overall, because he’s also a fan of Rodriguez’s work. “I would be excited to work with him on any project. But the fact that we were able to bring the Grecko brothers to life again with Robert, who was the franchise’s original director, made me very excited,” the actor explained.

The actor also revealed that he’s “a very big fan of the film,” which also drew him to want to take part of the television show. Cotrona added that it’s “very rare to be not only take on a character who was originally created by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez,” but then also work with Rodriguez as a director on the project.

Since the actors relished in developing the Grecko brothers’ reunion together and with Rodriguez during the first season of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series’ after they were cast, the actors were asked how they feel Richie is contending with being away from Seth during the current second season. Since Seth has been shown to be doing poorly, Holtz said he thinks his character is “initially going to cherish that time. He views it as a way to get out from behind his brother’s shadow.”

The actor added that his character “has always felt, not that Seth was holding him back, because they were obviously very successful together as a duo, but that maybe Seth didn’t give him the respect that he thought he deserved. So this is his time to not only prove to himself, but also to show Seth that his ideas do matter.” Holtz also revealed that his character wants to prove that he is “capable of planning and executing jobs on his own. We’ll see throughout the series that that may not be the case, but he does want to give it a go.”

While Richie has said he was the dedicated Gecko brother, Holtz added that “Richie thinks that he has a higher goal than Seth does. I think Richie looks at Seth and thinks he’s always on the run, jumping from job to job, with no real plans for a future.” The actor added that his character “wants to go beyond just being a bank robber. He wants to set up a criminal enterprise that can go beyond just heists, (and for which he) can have other people working underneath him. But Richie doesn’t think that Seth has that vision…and isn’t thinking about (pursuing that) vision.”

When then asked about the pressures of imitating what the actors did with the Grecko brothers in the film, Holtz said his goal was to “never try to emulate Quentin (Tarantino). I’m doing a version of the character of Richie.” But Holtz added that the information he received about the character was the same, in that Richie’s “one-half of a criminal partnership.”

Cotrona added that in terms of any similarities or mannerisms to Clooney’s portrayal of Seth in the film, “none of those were planned by any stretch of the imagination,” even though he characters are the same in both projects). The actor added that “A large part of the scripts that Zane and I do are going to have intentional similarities (to the movie), especially during the first season, (as) we crossed through the film’s story so many times.”

While Cotrona also noted that viewers are going to notice a lot of homages to the movie while they’re watching the show, he and Holtz didn’t try to incorporate too many references to Clooney and Tarantino’s performances in the action horror film. Cotrona added that he and Holtz “played what was on the script, and played those overlaps the best we could. But we never did any mannerisms” that intentionally alluded to the film.

Also noting Richie’s emotional struggles, in addition to his physical mannerisms, Holtz said that “On the show, we see that his mental instability comes from the fact that he’s seeing things around that he thinks are real, but nobody believes him…He makes hilarious ramblings about things that aren’t really relevant to the job at hand….I’m able to perform that in a way that I want to,” Holtz added. The actor also mentioned that Rodriguez steered him to give an original insight into the character, while still remaining true to the film.

Following up on the process of creating Richie’s visions for the series, Holtz said the development starts in the descriptions of the images in the script. “It can say, ‘You’re sitting here, and there’s an eyeball in your hand.’ I know on the day that there’s really not going to be an eyeball in my hand; there’s just going to be an X,” he laughed as he explained the process. “So a lot of the times I just know what’s written and what I’m supposed to be seeing, and work with that.”

Holtz added that “We don’t use a lot of green screen (on ‘From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series’), and I’ve never done that on any of my other jobs, either. I just have to make the process believable for myself. If I believe it myself, hopefully the audience will, as well.”

The discussion of developing the main characters’ emotional turmoil and connections continued when the process of introducing the Grecko brothers’ Uncle Eddie onto the show’s second season was then asked. The character, who’s being played by Jeff Fahey, was only mentioned during Season 1. He’s set to make his first appearance on the third episode of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’s current season, which is set to debut this Tuesday night.

Holtz noted that “Uncle Eddie is like a father figure to the Grecko brothers…we’re going to see how he’s going to respond to each of the boys separately. At that point (when the character’s first introduced), he’s not aware that (the brothers) are apart. So he’s treating it like business as usual. A lot of the conversations always ends up going in the direction of, ‘Well, how’s Seth?’ or, ‘Where’s Richie?'”

“Uncle Eddie doesn’t know about the events that happened at the Titty Twister, so to him, we’re still just on the lamb,” Holtz explains. “He’s heard, obviously, after episode one that we’ve been killed, so he finds out that that’s all ruse, and he’s trying to piece the puzzle together.

Holtz added that Uncle Eddie is one of his “favorite characters from this new season. I think people are really going to respond to seeing a little bit more of the Geckos brothers’ backstory, and how their family elements have shaped them.” The actor added that the Grecko brothers’ uncle “has a great arc, and is really important to this season.”

When the conversation turned to other upcoming guest stars they were looking forward to working with during the rest of the second season, Holtz immediately mentioned Danny Trejo, who plays The Regulator. He added that “Towards the end (of the season), I also got to work a lot with Esai Morales (who portrays Lord Amancio Malvado), who’s a really terrific actor.” He also admitted that there are going to be some surprise guest stars who haven’t been announced yet. “If people are looking for dynamic and exciting new characters, there are plenty coming this season,” he revealed.

Cotrona also chimed in on the guest stars who are set to appear during the rest of the second season, noting that “Robert’s always good at having a grab-bag of different guest actors in his projects. He throws them in (situations) that you haven’t seen before…Like Zane said, Esai Morales comes in towards the end of the season, and all of our characters bump into each other,” the actor said, and also revealed they have “fantastic” material together.

“Also, how can you have a Robert Rodriguez project without Danny Trejo? The experience is finally complete, as Danny’s with us for the whole ride,” Cotrona also excitedly said. “We all have some really cool stuff to do together. Briana Evigan also comes on for a new character this season. My character interacts with her a lot throughout the whole season,” the actor added. “She plays Sonja, the girl we were introduced to at the tattoo parlor. She’s fantastic, and we had a great time. She has a complicated storyline that’s going to play out throughout the season.”

When asked about when the Grecko brothers will move away from their interactions with the show’s guest stars and meet up again, Holtz didn’t divulge too much information about their reunion. “I’m now a culebra and basically chose to be with Santánico (who’s played by Eiza González) instead of being with Seth, so that pain is going to be there,” he noted. “But we’ll see that, if and when they come back together, it will probably be in a circumstance where they need each other. So they will have to get over that, and solve the greater threat at hand.”

Cotrona also discussed the Grecko brothers’ separation in the show’s current second season. Even though Richie is getting his life together and has plans for his future, as Holtz previously mentioned, Cotrona admitted that Seth is still struggling. Since Kate left Richie,that means that “he’s got nothing left. He’s at this risky point where he could just lose himself or not, and we’re going to find if that happens. He’s right at the edge of the cliff,” Cotrona admitted.

But further developing Seth and Kate’s relationship during the new season “was the thing I was looking forward to the most for the second season,” Cotrona admitted. He revealed Davenport, who he described as “an amazing actress,” was looking forward to that development, as well.

Seth and Kate “came together in shell shock,” Cotrona continued saying, especially since his character’s a “career criminal, and she’s a 17-year-old girl. But they’re the now the only two who have a normal relationship. Their relationship runs the gamut, and I think you can see that,” Cotrona emphasized. “Sometimes it’s father daughter. Sometimes it’s mother son, where she’s taking care of him. Sometimes it’s partners in crime. Sometimes it’s brother sister. It has traces of everything.”

The actor added that during their preparation for the series, he and Davenport discussed films that feature similar relationships. In the process, they also had a fantastic time playing such drastically different connections, Cotrona revealed.

Seth also can’t seem to stop viewing culebras as villains, because Cotrona notes that’s “the nature of his experiences. He’s in a very specific world-he’s a criminal who wanted the bag of money, and he also wanted to protect his brother. Than this horrific world of these creatures becomes real.” The actor pointed to the fact that they almost killed him, and did kill his brother. “They continue to threaten everything that he holds dear. They’re the thing that destroyed (Seth)…These creatures and their entire world are responsible for” that destruction.

Cotrona also said that he feels as though Seth’s situation with the culebras is similar to “going to war against a certain country or people for a very long time, and they decimate your life. Then it’s like walking over the border and shaking hands (with the enemy) the day after the war is over.” The actor doesn’t feel as though his character will ever get to that point. “Seth holds a grudge, and treats these things just as evil, demonic creatures. I think it’s going to be really hard for him to change his viewpoint.”

Interview: D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz Talk From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series Season 2
(l-r) Actors Zane Holtz and D.J. Cotrona play brothers Richie and Seth Grecko in El Rey Network’s action horror crime show, ‘From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series.’

Written by: Karen Benardello

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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