Check out this interview of SKYWATCH with D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz.

We’re so excited to have you here in New Zealand. Have either of you been here before?
DJ: I have. In 2008 I was working in Australia on a film called Justice League. Peter Jackson’s company was doing all the physical production, so I was between Sydney and Wellington a lot of the time and got to tour around a bit. I’m very happy to be back.
Zane: I’ve wanted to come here for a long time, so when the opportunity came up to promote the show down here, I said yes right away.

You two obviously get on well. Had you met before being cast in the series?
DJ: No. The first time we met was when Robert, Zane and myself got together in a hotel room for a meeting and played with some of the material to see if Robert would think the chemistry between us would work.
Zane: And it did.

You guys are now leading pretty hectic lives. Prior to coming here you were in Paris and Berlin. Do you ever wake up in places like this and pinch yourself?
DJ: Yes, absolutely. If you get to work in this business in any capacity, you’re already lucky. To get to do it on a job you actually enjoy immensely and you’re very proud of, and you get to work with people you really respect, is like winning the lottery twice, even more so if you get to travel and share it with other people. It’s like a dream come true.

DJ, Robert Rodriguez has said previously that he wanted you for the role of Seth Gecko and no one else. That must be hugely flattering?
DJ: I don’t know if Robert’s just been kind or if he means it, but it’s very flattering. I’m a huge fan of Robert and Quentin’s work, and always have been, so when I got the call to go and meet with him, I was excited to go and talk to him about any job opportunity. I feel very blessed that it worked out – I love going to work with him and the entire cast every day. It was a very quick process though. One day I got a phone call at noon wanting me to meet Robert in two hours. We talked about his vision and a few days after that, Zane and I were sitting in a room with Robert and a week after that we were in Texas putting suits on.

What about for you, Zane – was this more of a traditional casting process?
Zane: Kind of. I’d been cast in a couple of things by Mary Vernieu, who’s worked with Robert on most of his movies, so I had a relationship with her already. She brought me in to read for him, then I met with him via Skype and then I had one more meeting with DJ and Robert, and that was it. It was kind of traditional, but not in the sense of a TV show where you have to be approved by a whole panel and the network. Robert’s in a unique position where he’s all of those people.

Is it crazy to think that it’s less than a year since that first meeting with Robert?
DJ: Yeah, the whole experience has been really fast.
Zane: Before we know it, we’ll have six seasons done and we’ll be retired in New Zealand!

How hands on is he on set?
Zane: He wrote the first two episodes, he oversees the writing of the entire show and he directed four episodes. So really, when we got into it, it almost felt like you’re getting cast to be in one of Robert’s movies. Other directors started to come in, but Robert was always there. When you watch the series, you can feel his hand on everything.
DJ: He edits every episode by hand, even when he doesn’t direct, he composes all the music, he colour times all of it, he does the design for the advertising and the art work, he camera operates, so even if he’s not physically there, he’s there. He’s intrinsically connected to every inch of it. This is truly a Robert Rodriguez endeavour and that makes us feel safe as actors because this is one of his favourite early cult films and it would be a little scary to do it under someone else’s vision – no one can do Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino except Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.

What’s it like playing such iconic Quentin Tarantino characters?
DJ: No one on the planet writes better characters than Quentin Tarantino and no one gets access to them. The only complaint I ever have when I see one of Robert’s films or one of Quentin’s characters is that I want more of it – two hours isn’t enough. I think that’s really exciting for us. We’re the first two guys who get to bring Tarantino characters into a serialised form and explore them for longer than two hours.

Did you feel nervous or intimidated when you first walked onto the set?
DJ: First and foremost, you have to give credit to Robert, who is an incredibly calming presence. He’s a very confident guy, but he also instils confidence in the people he works with. He trusts you to make your own choices and bring the best you can to the project and he really empowers us to take control of the characters and do what we feel is right. To be honest, my best days on set are just Zane and I bouncing material off each other. We have great material and we have an amazing safety net with Robert filming and it’s fun when Zane and I get together. The process was so fast we didn’t have time to think about it too much.

Is working with Robert the kind of stuff dreams are made of?
DJ: I guess it depends on your perspective. I think it’s safe for me to speak for Zane too, but for us, this is a crazy business, and to get to work in it in any capacity is a blessing and to get to work with somebody as iconic, prolific, talented and cool as Robert is a gift. I think we all love each other and we have a lot of fun and we’re doing really good work we’re proud of, so regardless of how it’s perceived, I don’t think it really matters as much, because we’re very happy where we are and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Zane: Yeah, if you grew up watching somebody’s work and you respect them and you want to work with them, regardless of who that is, if you get that opportunity as an actor to work with them, that’s your dream come true. Robert happens to be one of those guys.

What’s it like living in Austin while you’re filming?
Zane: I didn’t have any sort of idea what it was going to be like. It’s a very cultured city – it has a lot of art and music and great food. It has a lot of the things about LA that I like without all the stuff that I don’t. If I had to live there for six months out of the year for the next five years, I’m not going to be upset about that.
DJ: Yeah, it’s a really incredible city. It’s a unique mash-up of classic Texas with this amazing growing art community in this beautiful, natural city.

Are Seth and Richie the kinds of characters that get under your skin, or once you take the suits off, do you find you can switch off fairly easily?
DJ: It’s a boyhood dream come true to get to play classic anti-hero characters like this. To get to play these two brothers based on classic film influences that make you want to become an actor in the first place is a great opportunity.
Zane: I don’t take it home with me or anything. When we’re on set and we’re doing the part, that’s one thing, and when you take off the suit and go home, that’s another. I don’t think I struggle with it, but that said, I have a great time playing the part on the day and I’m glad I found something that seemed to work and then I get to pick it up and put it down. That’s one of the great things about doing a series – you get to do it for five months then put it down and put it away, do something else, then come back to it.

DJ, was there ever a point where you were nervous at taking on a role originally played by George Clooney?
DJ: Yes, but stuff it. I didn’t think about it at all during shooting. But it’s a positive thing. George Clooney wasn’t a huge movie star when he did this and Robert is a guy who he got to work with early on in his career. When I think about the situation, all I’m excited about is getting the same opportunity. As an actor, you want to find great characters and great directors to work with. For me, I got that opportunity and everything else I shut out. I was just excited to get in there and get to work. All that other stuff is an afterthought.
Zane: I think me and DJ do a great job I think eventually people will come to think of us as the Gecko brothers as much as they think of Clooney and Quentin. So whether somebody did it before or not, there’s always going to be room for comparison, but the last people who need to be sitting here making the comparison is us.

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