Robert Rodriguez launches his El Rey Network in December—and the network, which will be distributed by cable providers including Comcast and Time Warner, is planning to make a splash shortly after its launch by reviving Rodriguez’s cult classic From Dusk Till Dawn, this time as an hour-long series.
This isn’t the first time that From Dusk Till Dawn has been adapted. While the 1996 film has been the only entry in the series directed by Robert Rodriguez until now, two poorly-received direct-to-video sequels were released in the late nineties. But with Rodriguez back at the helm, there’s reason for fans of the original film to be excited.
According to a press release about the series, which begins filming in Austin this week, the plot appears to follow that of the original film—and features most of the same characters:
Based on the thrill-ride film, “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” is a supernatural crime saga centered around bank robber, Seth Gecko and his violent, unpredictable brother, Richard “Richie” Gecko, who are wanted by the FBI and Texas Rangers Earl McGraw and Freddie Gonzalez after a bank heist left several people dead. While on an escape route to Mexico, Seth and Richie encounter former minister Jacob Fuller and his family who they take hostage. Using the family RV to make a run for the Mexican border, chaos ensues when the group detours to a strip club that is unknowingly populated by vampires, and forces them to fight until dawn in order to get out alive. The series deepens the tone of the film, adds new characters and backstories and expands the Mesoamerican mythology behind the vampires.
Seth and Rickie Gecko were the protagonists of the film, as well—although they were played by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino, respectively, who won’t be returning. (The original film may have boosted Clooney to leading-man status after languishing in film roles like “lip-syncing transvestite,” but he’s not exactly a TV star these days.) The role of Fuller, which was played by Harvey Keitel in the original film, has yet to be announced—but we do know who’ll be taking on the Clooney and Tarantino roles, as well as who’ll be portraying the new law enforcement characters created for the show. Let’s get to know them a little better:
D.J. Cotrona / Seth Gecko
In the 1996 film, Clooney’s nascent movie-star charisma made Seth Gecko’s bank robber/kidnapper-with-a-heart-of-gold schtick work. Cotrona’s displayed some leading-man chops in his previous work: He starred as Flint in this year’s surprisingly fun G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and seemed self-aware enough to know exactly what kind of film he was in. That bodes well for a series that’s based on a movie with more than a few campy elements. And while he’s likely no Clooney (who is?), he doesn’t have to have movie star appeal for a small-screen role.
Zane Holtz / Richie Gecko
Tarantino played Richie Gecko as a creepy man-child divorced from reality, and that may be the approach that the TV series takes with the character as well. It’s hard to imagine a television series being comfortable having one of its protagonists rape and murder an innocent woman, as Richie does early on in the film version, which means that Zane Holtz will probably not be trying to mimic Tarantino. Holtz is something of an unknown—aside from a regular role on the ABC Family teen drama Make It Or Break It, his filmography is mostly limited to walk-ons. Still, here’s a video of him punching some dude on Make It Or Break It, if that does anything for you.
Jesse Garcia / Freddy Gonzalez
Texas Ranger Freddy Gonzalez is a new character created for the TV series: law enforcement didn’t really play much of a part in the original From Dusk Till Dawn, except for a sherriff who gets killed in the first scene. But Jesse Garcia’s a talented guy who’s had recurring roles on Sons Of Anarchy and The Sarah Conner Chronicles, so he’ll probably be fine here.
Don Johnson / Sherriff Earl McGraw
That sherriff who gets killed in the first scene of the movie? He’ll be sticking around for the TV show, and he’ll be played by Rodriguez/Tarantino regular Don Johnson. Johnson usually plays a bad guy in their movies—he was a slave-owner in Django Kills and one of the villains of Machete—so it’ll be interesting to see him as an ostensible good guy here.