There's a fierce energy to the "Dusk Till Dawn" series that somehow gets us past its flaws. The show is the center of El Rey, the cable -- and satellite and streaming and such -- network that reflect Robert Rodriguez's passion for action. Now "Dusk" starts its second season Tuesday, after a marathon; here's the story I sent to papers:
By Mike Hughes
Others can grumble
about typecasting in Hollywood, but Danny Trejo has a bigger concern:
As a kid, he says,
he was typecast in life. “There would be a bunch of us together,”
Trejo said. “But the police always went to me.”
He looked meaner,
looked guiltier. That was a bad thing throughout his youth, much of
which he spent behind barrs; then it became a good thing, propelling
an acting career.
As he talked about
this, he was sitting next to his colleague from the “Dusk Till
Dawn” series, creating a visual contrast. There was:
-- Trejo, 71, craggy
and imposing – a reminder of his “Machete” movie roles.
Valderrama, 35 and sort of sweet-faced -- a reminder of his “That
'70s Show” years.
For Valderrama, the
fierce “Dusk” is a new esperience. “It lets you exercise
different muscles,” he said.
That's usually just
actor talk, but in this case it's literal: Valderrama hit the gym
between seasons, giving his character (Carlos) a new set of muscles.
“My girlfriend is glad I did it,” he said.
And this is no
standard girlfriend. He's been dating actress-singer Demi Lovato, 23.
When Trejo was her
age, he was occupying a different universe. By various accounts, he
did time in six California prisons until he was about 30. He became a
prison boxing champion and went through a 12-step program, staying
sober ever since. Then his tough image led to an acting career.
“For my first
years, I was Inmate #1, Gang Member 2,” Trejo said. “I was the
He played guys named
Spider, Hawk, Sharkey, Scarface, Geronimo and Razor Charlie. That
last one was in “From Dusk Till Dawn,” the 1996 film that saw
crooks – Quentin Tarantino (who wrote the script) and George
Clooney -- hide in a nightspot, unaware it's a vampire hangout. The
film led to:
-- More “Dusk.”
There were two direct-to-video sequels and then the series. It
launched in March of 2014, as the centerpiece of Rodriguez's new El
Rey network; now its second season begins.
-- A steady of Trejo
in Rodriguez movies. One character, named Machete, had supporting
roles in four “Spy Kids” family films, then became the center of
two action films for grown-ups.
Now Trejo and
Rodriguez are back together. Late in the opener (Aug. 25) of the
second “Dusk Till Dawn” season, we meet him as a fierce soul
known as The Regulator.
“I think the
Regulator is kind of a cross between Machete and Marcia Brady,”
He really did play
Marcia (sort of) in an ofbeat commercial. Trejo does comedy
sometimes, but “Dusk” takes him back to the dark side. The
season's second episode, Rodriguez said, has “Danny eating an
eyeball and being able to see what the guy is seeing. (Then you know)
you are in for a ride.”
the season-opener and the season-finale – which includes a guest
role for Lovato. “I wanted to direct her,” he said. “She has
some great personality ... and she's got great acting chops.”
Back when he was
looking for young Latinas for “Spy Kids,” Rodriguez auditioned a
pair of 10-year-old Texas friends, Lovato and Selena Gomez. He
rejected them then, but both went on to be big stars. Now Lovato will
do an episode alongside her boyfriend, who's had his own
Born in Miami,
Valderrama spent his early years in Latin America. His family fled
north, he said, with little money. “I didn't speak English until I
was in school.”
Then it all worked
out. As a teen, he did plays and a commercial. At 18, he became a
“70s Show” star.
Life is pleasant,
sometimes, if you look sweet; it's tougher if you look like Danny
-- “From Dusk Till
Dawn,” 9 p.m. Tuesdays, El Rey network; second season starts Aug.
-- That's preceded
by a marathon, from 11 a.m.; opener reruns at 10 p.m., midnight, 1
and 3 a.m.
-- El Rey -- via cable, satellite and streaming 00 also has
Robert Rodriguez's “Director's Chair” interviews with other
filmmakers. Reruns are 8 and 9 a.m. weekdays, plus some evenings; the
next new one is George Miller, Aug. 30.
-- El Rey recently
finished first season of “Lucha Underground” wrestling series. It
also has “Miami Vice” reruns and reflects Rodriguez's passion for
action films; see www.elreynetwork.com.