IT was a busy week for Hollywood actors Zane Holtz and DJ Cotrona: they were in Mauritius for another DStv media event before making their way to South Africa.

Cotrona says, “Yeah, we are a little bit jetlagged. But it was the first real night of good sleep.”

Holtz nods in agreement.

These two have ingratiated themselves into the hearts of fans with Robert Rodriguez’s TV series adaptation of the From Dusk Till Dawn cult movie franchise, which he did with Quentin Tarantino.

While shorter in person, Cotrona is every bit as dashing as he looks on camera; as is the lankier Holtz. In fact, both are distractingly attractive. Cotrona is the more talkative of the two and Holtz has a more intense disposition.

On being selected to inhabit the roles of the Gecko brothers, Cotrona says, “As far as getting involved, it was a quick process for both of us. Robert Rodriguez, our director and creator, is pretty well-known for working fast in all aspects. He shoots fast and he casts fast. I got a phone call from Robert at the very last minute and I had always been a giant fan of his. So I jumped at the chance. About a week after that, I started reading with some of the other actors, doing chemistry tests to find the right combination for the brothers.”

It has become standard practice for successful films to be turned into TV shows – especially of the superhero ilk. Cotrona notes, “It is becoming very common in the market place these days. Anytime you have iconic property or characters, you are seeing them revisited more and more. What’s great in our case is that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s characters are just as iconic, if not more so. The problem is that no one else has access to them, except those two guys. The thing that gives us confidence – and what we are very lucky to have – is that we are doing it with the original director and creator.”

Holtz reveals, “I had come off a couple of small independent films when I met with the casting director and Robert. I read to play Seth. It worked in the sense that Robert liked me, but it didn’t work out for the part.”

He was then asked to audition for Richie. That was followed by a reading with Cotrona.

Cotrona laughs, “We had never seen each other before that. When Zane came in, I didn’t like him instantly. Something about him rubbed me up the wrong way. Then he sat down and we started to do the scene and he just crushed it. He was good and intimidating and I saw Robert’s eyes light up.”

While Holtz clearly had the role in the bag, he continued to hover around, much to Cotrona’s annoyance.

“He was still trying to seal the job and kept asking questions. I kept thinking, please shut up, you got the job,” laughs Cotrona.

Holtz retorts, “Nah, it wasn’t fan questions. He brought up some car…”

In the first season, Don Johnson made an appearance. The second instalment sees Rodriguez’s mascot join, as well as a few others.

“We have great new actors,” says Cotrona. “Obviously, the big one is Danny Trejo, who plays The Regulator. Basically, Robert’s Terminator. He has been in every one of the Dusk Till Dawn movies. And there is Esai Morales as Lord Amancio Malvado – the antagonist.”

On the brothers finding themselves on different journeys, which is poles apart from where they started out in season one, Holtz says, “Being able to show the two brothers apart is a logical step.”

Cotrona expands, “Rodriguez has had a long time to think about. He came up with a lot of ideas that he didn’t get to shoot on the original film and has found different ways to tap into that. We have always known Seth and Richie to be this co-dependent crime duo. But you get left with this desire to also see these characters in different scenarios. That was the allure of this. Richie becomes a different person when he transforms and gains more power. We also see what happens to Seth when he stops becoming the confident mouthpiece and he has found a new vice – cocaine – to cope.”

Holtz adds, “Everything has flipped. Seth is lost and doesn’t know what to do with himself whereas Richie is taking the opportunity to see if he can do this on his own and maybe earn Seth’s respect.”

From Dusk Till Dawn is the kind of action-packed TV series that sometimes feels like an old school gangster crime drama and then meanders into grind house/horror territory.

One thing is for certain – this show lives up to the cult legacy of its movie franchise, and then some.

From Dusk Till Dawn airs on M-Net Edge on Mondays at 9pm.

Source: Independent Online

On the eve of From Dusk Till Dawn’s second season’s premiere — on August 25th at 9:00 pm on Rodriguez’s El Rey Network — Cotrona and Holtz took a stake to Playboy’s Lucky 7 questions.

What was your first encounter with Playboy?
D.J.: I was lookout while some friends stole a few copies when we were kids. I owe your company 12 bucks.
Zane: I don’t recall my first encounter with the magazine, but I will always remember my first time going to the Mansion. I got to see Three Six Mafia perform there the year they won the Oscar for Hustle and Flow and swam in the Grotto. Unforgettable.

What movie scared you the most as a kid?
D.J.:The Exorcist. When I hear that music I revert. Freaks me out.
Zane:The Fly. The scene where he throws up on the other guy’s arm and it dissolved really bothered me. It’s funny because now [David] Cronenberg is one of my favorite directors.

What’s your pop-culture blind spot?
Zane: I read an article on “YouTubers” recently. I didn’t know people made money doing that.
D.J.: Pop music.

Let’s pretend you’re on death row — what’s your last meal?
Zane: A cheeseburger and a Manhattan.
D.J.: 10 pounds of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Who was your first celebrity crush?
D.J.:Cindy Crawford.
Zane: Sarah Michelle Gellar. I loved Buffy. One Christmas, my mom signed a couple of my gifts as if they were from her.

If you could commit one consequence-free crime, what would it be?
Zane: After playing Richie Gecko for 20 episodes, I would say robbery. I love to gamble so it would be a casino heist. I might even go full Elvis, 3,000 Miles to Graceland style.
D.J.: Bank robbery. Customers are insured. Everybody wins!

What’s the biggest lie you ever told?
Zane: As an actor I lie professionally as it is, so I try to be as honest and real as possible in my daily life.
D.J.: “I have never told a lie.”

Source: Playboy

D.J. Cotrona had less than two weeks to prepare for reinterpreting one of his favorite film roles in Robert Rodriguez’s TV adaptation of his 1996 film “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

“We just got thrown in very quickly,” he says over his second cup of coffee at the Algonquin Hotel’s Blue Bar in Midtown Manhattan. “Robert shoots very fast. Everything is very fast, so you learn on your feet; it’s definitely run and gun…. But I prefer it.”

It’s an apt description for the “From Dusk Till Dawn” world, first brought to life by Quentin Tarantino (also the screenwriter) and George Clooney as the Gecko brothers, two small-time crooks on the run who enlist a Bible-thumping family of hostages to sneak them across the Mexican border.

What moved “Dusk” beyond the run-of-the-mill crime saga into indie film history was not only Tarantino’s “verbose” script and Rodriguez’s seamless integration of spaghetti Western and kung fu film influences, but the radically sudden switch from heightened realism to the dark fantasy of a full-on vampire horror flick.

That shift was more drawn out in the TV adaptation’s first season, starring Cotrona as fast-talking Seth and Zane Holtz as mentally unstable Richie. Now, Season 2 moves beyond the cult classic’s original telling, expanding on the universe. The first two episodes bring a welcome change for Richie and a newfound low for Seth, who finds himself lost without his partner in crime.

“It’s funny because my career as an actor has been extremely up and down,” Cotrona says of the similarities between Seth and himself. “I’ve had a lot of big opportunities that have not come to fruition for myriad reasons, and it’s weird but I think that really informed my experience with my character.”

In 2007, Cotrona was cast in George Miller’s “Justice League: Mortal” as Superman, a potentially career–making role, but the project fell through. It wasn’t until 2010’s “Dear John,” in which he played Noodle, the Army bud to Channing Tatum’s titular character, followed by 2012’s “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” that audiences saw him on the big screen again.

“You think about it and [actors are] constantly just rushing to grab one job real quick and get away with it, and then that job brings us to the next job. You feel like you’re always on the road to snatch a role or snatch a bag of money, just enough to continue to the next one.”

But it’s the “obsession” with the chase and the process, and rarely the job itself, that both entices and serves as the driving force behind Cotrona’s acting career, Seth’s criminal one, and “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

Luring fans back into the groundbreaking film’s hazy world of sex, Satan, blood, and bank robberies hinged on creative support from Rodriguez. The Texas native brought his atypical style to the TV series, making it the first original from his cable network, El Rey, a move that ensured complete creative control in front of and behind the camera.

The project was daunting, but Cotrona says being selected by Rodriguez pushed him to trust his acting instincts, as well as lean into taking agency over his choices. There was no space for self-doubt.

“[Robert’s] always saying, ‘Keep creating. Keep moving forward. Don’t second-guess anything. Take the first instinct and just go.’

“ ‘There are no mistakes’ is a big thing with him,” says Cotrona.
Read more at Backstage

Paste Magazine: Congratulations! How does it feel to have a second season?
DJ Cotrona: Thank you. It feels great. I’m really proud of the project, and I love our whole cast and crew—Robert and everybody on our creative team. I’m very happy to get to keep working with these guys, and I’m excited for the fans to see what we’ve been up to.

Paste: Have you thought about long this show might last?
Cotrona: That is up to Robert. I know Robert and our showrunner [Carlos Coto] have some big plans to go five seasons, but again, there are a lot of factors involved in those type of decisions. I hope we get to continue for a long time to come, we’re having a great time.

Paste: From what I hear, the cast and crew have a collaborative rapport and you’re like family. What’s a typical day on set like?
Cotrona: It’s very much like a family. That’s the best way I can put it. In all the best ways, in all the frustrating ways, but I think we really benefit, creatively, from a having such a tight-knit group. First and foremost, that’s a testament to Robert and the environment of his studio that he created down in Austin. We’re far away from Hollywood, we’re not near New York or any of the filming hubs. It’s just known from different actors, and throughout the years, anyone that’s had the opportunity to work with Robert—he’s just this touchstone for getting your creative juices flowing again. Any actors I spoke to when I was considering this project, they told me to ‘Go. It doesn’t matter what the role is, it doesn’t matter if it’s a show or movie, just go to Austin and shoot with Robert and you’ll get invigorated, creatively.’

That bleeds into our relationships. The fact that we’re down there [together]—it’s the same crew that Robert uses for the majority of his career; they’re all very familiar with each other and work really quickly as a tight-knit group. The same goes for the cast. For the first two seasons, we all lived in the same place in Austin while shooting. We truly are lucky in a sense that we all do really get along and have a great time.

Paste: You and Zane Holtz seem to have a great relationship.
Cotrona: I love Zane to death and we get along great. We’re very fortunate to get along off camera, and we love working together. I think we have a similar approach to our work and a similar attitude about this industry and about being actors. We realize how lucky we are and appreciate this opportunity. I really mean it, regardless if you’re working on a big film, or you’re working on a television series, it’s very, very rare to get the amount of creative freedom we are afforded by Robert and our showrunner, Carlos. Especially when you’re dealing with such iconic characters that Robert and Quentin [Tarantino] created. When you get to work on characters so beloved and well-known, you expect to get the minimum amount of creative control, but it’s truly the opposite of it. We’re in the trenches everyday trying to do the best we can.

Read more at source

Watch the full interview of SAG Foundation with the cast of From Dusk Till Dawn held last July 29th below.

In 2007/2008, Cotrona was slated to play Clark Kent and Superman in George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal. In addition to a DJ Cotrona Superman, the film would have featured Armie Hammer as Batman, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Adam Brody as The Flash, Common as Green Lantern, Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman, Hugh Keays-Byrne as Martian Manhunter, Teresa Palmer as Talia al Ghul, and Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord.

Ultimately, the film fell victim to the 2008 WGA strike. I asked him to share what he remembered of that film’s development and what it could have been, and Cotrona was happy to oblige.

“The best way I can describe it is: George Miller’s mind is so operatic and big and expansive, it’s a shame that the world didn’t get to see what he would do with superheroes,” Cotrona said. “It was allegorical, like a story of Greek Gods almost. He was doing things with the Superman character and Batman character, and all the iconic favorites, that’s never been done before. Watch Fury Road and you can only imagine what he would do with those iconic characters.”

The success of Mad Max: Fury Road drove renewed interest in Miller’s attempt to make Justice League, which was set up in 2007, yeas before the new Zack Snyder universe incarnation even began to take shape. Cotrona said that everything worked out the way it was supposed to, since we might not have Fury Road if Miller had completed work on Justice League.

“I think after the world’s seen Fury Road, everyone can agree that that was the film that George was meant to make,” Cotrona said. “It’s an absolute masterpiece and it took him over 15 years starting and stopping to get it going. He’s one of the greatest filmmakers of our time.”

Although Miller had directed the successful Happy Feet movies for Warner Brothers, audiences weren’t as familiar with his live-action work at the time he was developing Justice League. (Miller’s most recent live-action film at the time was Babe 2, from 1998.) It was also pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“It was a giant tentpole superhero movie before that really became the norm,” Cotrona said. “I think at the time, it had been a while since George had a movie out and the fan base for those types of properties hadn’t really seen the types of films George makes recently, so there was a lot of questions. Ultimately it was a two year process. There was a strike and there were some financing issues. It ultimately fell apart.”

Looking back, Cotrona still treasures that he got to work with Miller. He’s kept in touch and reconnected with Miller when the director did an episode of Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey series The Director’s Chair. Cotrona says the lessons he learned working on Justice League still help him in his current acting work.

“It was a bummer that it fell apart but I made great friends on that project,” Cotrona said.

“I’m still very close with the entire cast. I learned a lot about acting, honestly, things I still use to this day. Any time you get to spend time with an amazing director like Robert Rodriguez or George Miller, you just become a sponge. You soak up everything you can possibly learn and just apply it to the next job you do.”

Source: /Film