Sky's new sci-fi/fantasy/horror-centric channel The Zone launches tomorrow, and one of its flagship shows is a TV adaptation of the George Clooney 1998 vampire/crime thriller From Dusk Till Dawn.
Unlike most TV series based on movies, this one comes from the creator of the original -- Robert Rodriguez, the one-man movie studio who directed From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City and the Spy Kids films.
The three stars of the new show recently visited New Zealand to talk about From Dusk Till Dawn. Mexican actor Eiza Gonzalez, who plays seductive vampire temptress Santanico Pandemondium, said she was excited to follow in the footsteps of Salma Hayek, who played the role in the original film.
"The last Mexican actress to do a legitimate crossover [into English-speaking roles] was Salma Hayek," said Gonzalez. "So I was really nervous. I grew up with Robert's films, I remember watching From Dusk Till Dawn when I was 6. Everyone was so proud of Salma in Mexico, too. I watched all Robert's movies. So the day that I got the audition I was excited like a little fan girl. And now it's the dream come true to be able to be part of his legacy."
Although the From Dusk Till Dawn series is her first English-language role, the 24-year-old Gonzalez is a showbiz veteran.
"I started when I was 15 doing teen shows. I would sing, tour and act. I got a record deal with EMI Capital Records when I was 15 for three albums. Then I moved to Argentina to work with Nickelodeon Latin America for four years and shot a show called Dream With Me. We toured a lot too. So I have six albums now." But Gonzalez felt restless in her home country.
"I worked for seven years in Latin America and basically decided I needed to change a little bit of my life. I felt like something was missing. I wanted to do something bigger. It's not that it wasn't enough in Mexico, I love my country, but I just felt like I wasn't fully happy. So I left everything and basically went to the States with nothing. I didn't have a house or an agent or a manager or anything. And a month and a half later I was flying to Austin, Texas, to shoot From Dusk Till Dawn. I couldn't believe it."
Getting to work in the supernatural horror genre was also a dream come true for Gonzalez. "I was a weird girl growing up. Instead of being obsessed with Disney princesses, I was obsessed with Tim Burton and Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas and dark Japanese manga.
"And my older brother would make me watch Freddy Krueger and Chucky and Candyman, so when I was older I became a huge horror fan. So now that I'm old and doing From Dusk Till Dawn, it feels like I'm finally home."
Gonzalez' co-stars on the show are D.J. Cotrona (as Seth Gecko, the George Clooney role) and Zane Holtz, who plays Seth's disturbed brother Ritchie, portrayed by Quentin Tarantino in the film. Most TV shows adapted from movies tend to fail -- did that concern Cotrona?
"No, because it's Robert Rodriguez," Cotrona told me. "Making a TV series out of one of Robert's iconic early films would be a terrible idea if anyone else was handling it. It would be an impossible feat but for the fact it's Robert Rodriguez. He's the guy, he wants to go back and revisit his own film. So I got nothing but excited."
Although From Dusk Till Dawn is a big-budget, mainstream show, Holtz said there was a very congenial atmosphere on set. "Working on Dusk you get the same vibes you get on an independent movie, where everyone is excited about what they're doing and it feels like its own separate entity.
"It doesn't feel like you're working 'for' someone, you're working 'with' people. But it's a real studio. It's a cool hybrid between those two worlds."
From Dusk Till Dawn premieres at 9.30pm on Tuesday, on Sky's new channel
The Zone (016).