Actress Tania Raymonde may be best known to millions worldwide as Alex Rousseau from ABC’s series “Lost”, but it’s her latest television role that very well could define the next chapter of her career.
On MTV’s newest genre series “Death Valley”, Raymonde plays Carla Rinaldi, the no-nonsense badass member of the UTF (Undead Task Force) that hits the streets of the San Fernando Valley nightly to keep the peace amongst the humans living there and the undead masses now lurking everywhere- including zombies, werewolves and vampires. Each night Carla and her smooth-talking partner John “John John” Johnson (Texas Battle) hit the streets of the Valley in hopes of keeping the streets (and each other) safe and undead free.
Shot documentary style (a la “COPS”), the horror comedy is quickly becoming THE show to watch on Monday nights due to the hilarious (and sometimes even heartfelt) performances by Raymonde and the entire cast of “Death Valley”.
Recently Dread Central had the opportunity to catch up with Raymonde to talk about her thoughts on “Death Valley”, why Carla is so unlike anything the actress has ever played before and if she thinks the UTF will be back to kick some more ass for a season two of the series.
Dread Central: What were your first impressions of the premise of “Death Valley” when you first were approached for the series?
Tania Raymonde: I never really thought I’d be doing a genre television series ever, let alone a horror comedy, but when I read the script, I really liked the hook of blending comedy and horror and then mixing it up with the documentary shooting style. It was unique and not something I had seen done a whole lot before, especially on TV. Plus, it was something I’d never done before so I liked the idea of the challenge; I’m a huge fan of horror comedy movies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland so I thought it would be fun to do a series like “Death Valley” and get a chance to do some funny and gory stuff all at once.
DC: I would have to say that, for me, what I enjoy the most about “Death Valley” are the hilarious relationships between the various teams of officers, including Carla and “John John.” And what I think really sells the show as something more than just a “one punch-line premise” is that when you’re watching, there’s so much chemistry happening onscreen that you can immediately buy into the fact that these people are really partners and care about each other. Is that chemistry between you and Texas something that lives just while shooting, or is it something more organic?
Raymonde: What you see with the partnership between Carla and “John John” is definitely very real. Texas and I became immediate friends on day one, and I don’t think that feeling ever waned once while shooting the series. I would say that we’re pretty much as close as two friends can get because of all the time we spent together shooting “Death Valley”, and I definitely think that bond between us spills over into what you see on the series. I love working with Texas, and I honestly couldn’t imagine playing Carla alongside anyone else as “John John.” He just owned that character so well, and I think our characters’ strong personalities were a great balance for each other.
DC: Did improv come into play while shooting “Death Valley” at all, and were you given any playing room with how your character and backstory got fleshed out over time?
Raymonde: You know, I think the entire show changed a little bit here and there since we first began working on it because I know there were things we’ve definitely fleshed out with all of our characters since the pilot and kind of made these characters our own now. A lot of our actors are very skilled at improv, and I definitely think that changed some minor things, but it also added to the entertainment in “Death Valley”. Sometimes you just didn’t know who would say what next, and I think that’s what I loved most while shooting the episodes. We were always cracking up.
But what I love so much about my character, Carla, is that she’s not your typical female, especially within the world of horror. You don’t really know much about her except that she loves what she does, and she’s a total badass when it comes to taking down zombies or vampires or whatever. She’s got a caring side to her, which you see at times when she’s helping out other team members, but she’s also merciless and very unwilling to compromise her beliefs, and that’s super cool to me. I love that she has a strong and serious side but she’s also got a bit of a funny streak in her, too.
DC: I love that Carla is actually the gun authority on the series– did you guys have to do some training for “Death Valley”?
Raymonde: Absolutely! One of the things you want to make sure of when you’re working on a cop show is that everything has to look realistic, including things like holding or shooting the gun. When we’re on set, we’re just using prop guns that don’t react at all so you have to almost fake it a bit, which is kind of tough when you’re doing a huge scene. It seems kind of strange to say it, but even how to holster your gun correctly matters to the authenticity so I made sure to get really familiar with weapons, and I even went out to a range one day to do some shooting.
DC: Since we’re only about halfway through the first season, what can we expect to see coming up during the rest of “Death Valley?” Do we learn a little more about Carla?
Raymonde: During the rest of the first season, we’ll definitely get to know Carla more and learn more about her and her girlfriend to see what’s going between them. The storylines will definitely be getting a little edgier, too, until the finale, especially when all the officers have to come together and help Kirsten with putting an end to the vampire parties she’s infiltrated. There will still be plenty of laughs for the rest of the season, but what we have in store isn’t all punchlines and slapstick humor. There are going to be some serious moments, too, and I think that’s what makes “Death Valley” so great- that balance between the humor and horror of real-life.
DC: Have you heard anything about a second season of “Death Valley” yet?
Raymonde: Honestly, I don’t know yet. It seems like everyone’s enjoying the show and the stories are definitely getting better and better as we go along so my fingers are crossed. I know that I’d love to be part of a second season, but right now I’m just waiting to see what happens. Hopefully our fans will continue to support us for the rest of the season and help us get to Season Two.
Big thanks to Tania for chatting us up!
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