'From Dusk till Dawn' series stars talk revival struggles

D.J. Cotrona (R) and Zane Holtz (L) in From Dusk Till Dawn. (Courtesy)

D.J. Cotrona (R) and Zane Holtz (L) in From Dusk Till Dawn. (Courtesy)

Sean Fitzgerald, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:43 PM ET

Have you seen the From Dusk Till Dawn series? The show expands on the 1996 crime-vampire movie from director Robert Rodriguez and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, adding new characters and delving deeper into the cult film’s Mesoamerican mythology.

But it does retell the movie’s plot, leaving some critics to wonder about the point of it all.

“If this was a Marvel property, or a DC property, and we were doing a reimagining, people wouldn’t even blink, because we’re used to that,” says D.J. Cotrona (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), who takes over from George Clooney as the handsome criminal Seth Gecko. “How many times have we seen a different Batman, or a different Superman, or a different Fantastic Four?”

Having Rodriguez serving as executive producer – he also directs some of the episodes – helps the situation, says Cotrona, explaining that the filmmaker has created an alternate universe for the Gecko Brothers with the new series, a foundation that can be used for many seasons to come. A second season has already been greenlit, with production slated to begin in the fall.

Cotrona expected some backlash about the project, because of the strong attachment that fans have to familiar characters in movies they love (there have been two direct-to-DVD sequels).

“When Daniel Craig did the new James Bond, before people saw the movie, they were throwing garbage at him on the set, because he was blond,” he says. “Any time you start touching iconic films, people freak the f--- out. But this is Robert redoing Robert’s work, with 20 more years of experience under his belt.”

The show, which is shot in Austin, Texas, at Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios, also stars Wilmer Valderrama (That ’70s Show) as drug lord Don Carlos, and Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money) as former minister Jacob Fuller.

Netflix currently has about half of the first season ready to stream. Each episode airs weekly on Rodriguez’s new El Rey network in the U.S. before coming to Netflix in Canada.

The series follows the wanted Gecko Brothers on their way to the Mexican border after a jailbreak and a bank robbery, and dips into the supernatural realm right from the beginning. For example, the psychopathic Richie Gecko, played by Canadian actor Zane Holtz and originally portrayed by Tarantino, sees frightening visions wherever he goes, a trait that the character didn’t have in the movie.

Both Cotrona and Holtz saw the original film as teenagers but wanted to avoid re-watching it – and possibly letting the original performances affect them – before scoring parts in the TV series. But the movie kept popping into their lives, like some sort of cinematic curse.

“I remember it coming on TV a few times during the process and I had to turn it off so I wouldn’t watch it,” says Cotrona.

And every time Holtz would run errands at his local big box store, he’d notice a copy of the movie staring at him.

“It was on one of the outside racks, so even if I wasn’t trying to look through DVDs, it was just out there,” Holtz says with a laugh. “I kept seeing it. And it was calling out to me to buy it, but I resisted. The funny thing is, once I actually got the job, I went to go buy it, and it was gone.”

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