Jake Busey Talks From Dusk Till Dawn, How Mayan Gods & Robert Rodriguez Saved Him, Snake People, and More
Robert Rodriguez's El Rey Network is the Tuesday night home of "From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series," and among its stars is Jake Busey as Professor Tanner. Busey recently sat down with Dread Central to dish some info on the show.
"FDTD" is taking tonight off so we thought what better time to catch our breath and chat with Busey about how he became involved with the series, how it compares to the movie on which it's based, what exactly the creatures in it are, and much more.
Busey opened by saying how thrilled he was that Rodriguez hired him for the role of Professor Tanner.
"I feel like I hit the lottery," Busey said. "Robert Rodriguez is the lifesaver of the Jake Busey career. I had some downtime. I had a couple years of complacency. If you're not on the gas, if you're not relentlessly pushing and pushing and pushing, you will fall off the train and get pushed aside by the next guy coming along."
"In 2011 I found some stability in my life and really started working and getting jobs and having focus. But it was just little parts. No one would hire me for anything serious. It was guest stars and things like that. Robert Rodriguez… I walked up to him at the Machete Kills premiere. And I haven't been to a premiere in ages. I was like I was a fish out of water. I'm a homebody. I don't really like going out and dealing with people so it's hard for me, but it's a necessity. So I walk up to Robert after the movie, and I honestly tell him how much I loved the film. And I was like, 'Dude, you've gotta hire me for Machete Kills in Space or whatever's next. I've gotta work with you!"
Apparently that request was not lost on the director. "Robert and I had met in '94 but had never worked together," Busey said. "And my career was now dead, and when I gave Robert that compliment and said, 'I've gotta work with you,' he said, 'You know what, man? I'll keep that in mind.' And a month later I was auditioning for 'From Dusk Till Dawn,' which is such a coup because the movie is such a cult classic and one of my favorites."
So what exactly is the "From Dusk Till Dawn" television series? For those who haven't seen it, it's like a retelling of the story from the film; however, instead of telling it over the course of a movie, the story is being told over the course of a television season, so obviously there is much more to it this time around. Busey sums it up nicely.
"There was a period in my life when I started dating this girl who was very sharp and very well read," Busey said, "and she was curious about my career and how the movie industry works. And I said, 'Here's a script!' proudly. Like, 'This is what I do. You read books? Here, read this. This'll really knock you on your ass.' She read it in 20 minutes, where it takes me three hours to read a script, and she turned and said, 'That's pretty cool. It's kinda like a short story.' And I was like, 'What?!' She said, 'Yeah, like a novella. It's 110 to 120 pages. It takes you from the bottom to the top to the resolution. It's a nice little short story.' That opened my eyes to a reality. And as I'm reading the 'From Dusk Till Dawn' scripts, I'm thinking, 'Oh, right! It reads exactly like the movie, but what we are doing is the full-scale novel… and the movie is the short story.'"
The series includes so much more detail and information that the film simply didn't have room for. Busey explained some of the additions.
"We dive right in," he said enthusiastically. "We explain why Richie is having his visions. In the movie you see Tarantino; he kinda has his visions when he's with the bank teller in the motel and he freaks out and shoots her. And as an audience member you're like, 'Oh yeah, this guy's nuts!' But with the TV show, you're like, 'Oh, he's having supernatural visions.' And there's Mayan gods and snake people!"
Snake people?! Those who have already seen the show will confirm that the baddies in "From Dusk Till Dawn" are certainly reminiscent of vampires, but with some completely new traits. "'The Walking Dead' has zombies covered. 'True Blood' has vampires covered and then they added werewolves and then they added fairies," Busey said. "What Robert and his crew, [exec producer] Carlos Coto especially, have done is really taken an interesting idea from the film, fleshed it out, and made it to where there's a new monster. And they even go so far as to explain this monster and say early Spanish conquistadors confused these monsters for vampires when they arrived and dealt with them. Because they had known about the vampire from Eastern Europe so they just assumed that those 'culebras' were vampires because of the fangs and what have you. But as it turns out, they are Mayan snake people. Snake gods!"
And the look of the creatures is incredible! "It's a great device in the show," Busey said. "You're watching and [at first] say, 'Oh, they're doing another vampire thing. It's a rip-off of "True Blood." Oh, but their fangs are longer… yadda, yadda.' Then you find out, 'Oh! They're fucking anaconda humans! Those are snake fangs with venom!' It's a whole different thing."
The character Busey plays, Professor Tanner (who in last week's episode turned out to also be "Sex Machine," crotch-gun and all), could not be more perfect for him. "I've never been cast in a role that was this near who I am, and this is really fulfilling," Busey effused. "When I read the script, I thought, 'I've got to play this role. It really fits… like a comfortable jacket.' I'm somewhat of a nerd and a stickler for detail, and I like discovering the details in unique history and mythology and interesting stories. So for me, Professor Tanner, who's a professor of archeology and kind of like Indiana Jones when he's in the classroom, is very satisfying. For me, it's a wonderful role."
Busey has been thoroughly impressed by everything involved with the "From Dusk Till Dawn" series thus far. "It's really amazing and has exceeded my expectations as far as crew and cast and story and set," Busey said. "It's just amazing. I really feel if people know about this and know about the El Rey channel, if the audience knows where it is and knows about it, it's going to be on par with 'The Walking Dead' when it took off. I've gotta knock on wood on that one, but it's just been a blessing to be a part of it. And Robert hired me when no one else would, and I've really got to thank him for that."
"From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series" returns to the El Rey Network on April 29th with Episode 1.07, "Pandemonium." Visit the El Rey Network website and enter your zip code to find out how to see it in your area.
If it's available where you live and you need to catch up, there will be a "From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series" marathon on Sunday, April 27th, beginning at 9 am PT/12 noon ET, repeating multiple times throughout the day. You can also find it in the U.S. via the following partners: Amazon, iTunes, Sony Playstation, Xbox, Vudu, Google Play, Cinemanow, Blackberry, and Target Ticket. Each episode is made available the day after broadcast on all outlets.
“From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” centers on bank robber Seth Gecko (D.J. Cotrona) and his violent, unpredictable brother, Richard “Richie” Gecko (Zane Holtz). The series deepens the tone of the original film, adds new characters and backstories, and expands the Mesoamerican mythology behind the creatures inside the club.
Along with Cotrona and Holtz, the international cast includes Jesse Garcia, Eiza González, Wilmer Valderrama, Adrianne Palicki, Jake Busey, Don Johnson, Madison Davenport, Lane Garrison, Robert Patrick, and Brandon Soo Hoo. The 10-episode, hour-long series is El Rey Network's first scripted original and has already been renewed for a second season.
"From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series" Episode 1.07, "Pandemonium" (airs 4/29/14)
With everyone at odds, the Gecko brothers and the Fuller family are forced to sit down and watch the nightly performance by Santanico Pandemonium. When Ranger Freddie Gonzalez shows up to exact revenge, the show takes an unexpectedly savage turn. Teleplay by Diego Gutierrez; directed by Robert Rodriguez.
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