Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Greg Nicotero and I go way back, so when I was asked if I wanted to talk to him about his involvement in Robert Rodriguez's TV re-imagining of From Dusk Till Dawn I couldn't say no.
Our mutual love of Jaws brought us together (my incredibly nerdy worship of anybody who works in practical effects didn't hurt) and we've been friends for at least 15 years. It's always interesting talking to somebody in an official capacity when you actually hang out and bullshit a lot in the real world. I find those chats end up much more conversational than my usual interviews. That's a long winded way for me to say that I have no idea if this interview is going to be in any way interesting to anybody but me and Greg.
There's some good talk about his relationship with Robert, the weird feeling he has working on an adaptation of a movie that was a huge turning point for him professionally and his thoughts on the new cast bringing From Dusk Till Dawn: The TV Show to life... but then there's also us talking about BBQ and his hair, so who knows? I like the interview. Hopefully you will, too.
Quint: Hey, Greg. How's it going, man?
Greg Nicotero: Dude! How are you?
Quint: I'm doing great. Long time no see. You've been a little busy since starting that Walking Dead thing.
Greg Nicotero: Yeah, that crazy zombie show that started with 6 episodes and we've done 51 so far.
Quint: I'm super proud of the episodes you've directed, man. To the one they've been the best of the series so far.
Greg Nicotero: Thanks, buddy. I really appreciate that. I really do. Robert had offered me an episode to direct on Dusk Till Dawn, but we got a greenlight on a pilot with Ridley Scott that I'm executive producing. It was the worst phone call I ever made in my life, calling Robert and going “Dude, I don't think I can do it.” He was like “Are you kidding?!? Come on, man! You got your own show, what're you talking about?”
You know more than anybody what a workhorse Robert is. I flew down in December to do some conceptual meetings about the vampires and I went over to his house one night. He was like, “Come on, I'm going to cook you dinner.” So, we're having this conversation and it was like watching Kali from Golden Voyage of Sinbad watching him cook. He never took his eyes off of me when he was making ravioli. He was like, “Yeah, man. On El Rey I'm going to do a cooking show and then Dusk Till Dawn...” I was looking at him going, “How do you do this?” It astounds me. You know more than anybody that you can't understand Robert's genius until you're in the room with him and you see his internal brain clicking and how his mind thinks.
It's interesting to me because people keep asking me “How do you do it? How do you keep KNB running when you're directing and producing things? How do you do it?” I have a good support system. I have guys like Robert did. Robert created his empire when he was younger than 30 years old.
Quint: He seems to thrive in the chaos. I think if he only had one thing to focus on it'd drive him crazy.
Greg Nicotero: He even said to me, when we were talking about Dusk Till Dawn and me directing, “Dude, I'll just prep it for you. You just come and shoot.” I just love that. It's really fascinating and I'm enjoying that we're sharing this kind of parallel track, with him now doing Dusk Till Dawn and me doing The Walking Dead. We're on a parallel quest to rule the world one genre TV show at a time. (laughs)
Walking on the set of the Titty Twister was insane. It's the first time I've ever been involved in a television show that's an adaptation of a movie that we were involved in.
Quint: Talking to Gino Crognale on the set, he kept looking around and saying they felt deja vu.
Greg Nicotero: Especially Gino. Gino was one of the few makeup artists that was on the show that was there when we shot the original movie. When he and I were shooting episode 107... at one point we were going to reprise our cameos from the original movie. Robert came in and said, “You gotta play your original part from the movie again!” But I was shooting additional photography and I didn't have time to get in makeup and get all bloody and keep directing and shooting.
Quint: You'd also need your power metal hair back.
Greg Nicotero: No, my hair's long again!
Quint: Really! That's excellent news! Again, I haven't seen you in forever. That's awesome.
Greg Nicotero: Yeah, dude. My hair's long again. As soon as Robert saw me he was like, “You got the long hair, you gotta play your part again!” They pulled the costume for me and everything.
You know, us doing From Dusk Till Dawn in '95 was a really big turning point. Aside from Robert becoming one of my best friends on that show we had 6 months to prep that movie, we shot for 3 months and every day we got in at 4 in the morning, we did vampire makeups all day long. It was kind of like summer camp. Listen, you get to go to work every day and makeup beautiful strippers. Aside from Alex Aja's Piranha, which was making up beautiful beach bunnies every day, you usually don't get an experience like that.
To get a chance to revisit that and reimagine the makeups... I would never be interested repurposing the makeups from the original movie. Robert had begun to put some of that Aztec mythology into the movie. You see the big matte painting at the end of the big Aztec temple. The great thing about the TV show, like The Walking Dead, you're not limited to 2 hours. You have time to get into the backstory of some of these characters and tell your story over 10 hours or 20 hours instead of 90 minutes. Who would not want that opportunity?
Eiza (Gonzalez) and Zane (Holtz) and DJ (Cotrona) and Wilmer (Valderrama)... the actors are fantastic. I went and watched the rough cut of the first episode and I was like, “I don't know how I'm going to feel about this,” because Clooney and Quentin brought a really cool factor to the original movie. That movie in its time was kind of a big deal because you put two renegade filmmakers together, you put Quentin and Robert together. De Niro would come visit the set. John Woo would come visit the set. It was fucking insane.
But I think the (new) actors did an amazing job. Eiza's so sexy. She's very different from Selma Hayek in terms of personality, but boy oh boy she was just ferocious and sexy and beautiful all at once. DJ and Zane were also really great. I love that they brought their own take on the characters and it wasn't just doing what the actors did in the movie. They really did a great job fleshing out those people and putting their own fingerprints on them.
It's really been cool to watch Dusk Till Dawn 2.0 sort of grow and change and morph into a retelling of the original movie.
Quint: What's interesting to me is what's happening after they reach the end of the first movie. When the crew and cast is unshackled from hitting certain landmarks and character beats. The second season is going to really give everybody a chance to expand the mythology, I think.
Greg Nicotero: The mythology (in the movie) wasn't really that developed. I have to say, I don't even remember if the Aztec temple was even in the original script. I don't think it was. I think that was Robert and the production designer putting that stuff in there as an “Oh, this is some cool reference.” Carlos Coto and Robert have really developed their own mythology and created a new world which is sort of loosely based on From Dusk Till Dawn. We're going to get a whole new view of it.
Quint: I hope you get your Ridley Scott show set up and on its way...
Greg Nicotero: We're shooting in June!
Quint: That's great. Now just get a break from The Walking Dead and you can come hang out in Austin some more and eat incredibly delicious and unhealthy food.
Greg Nicotero: I went to Franklins when I was there and it almost literally put me in a food coma for 3 days it was so good. Robert walks in there and eats it like it's nothing. I was like, “Dude, how do you do that!?!” It almost killed me it was so good!
Hope you guys enjoyed the chat. Nicotero's work on Eiza Gonzalez's Santanico Pandemonium will be all over tomorrow night's new episode on the El Rey Network, airing 9pm EST/PST. The above photo is a first look at her new makeup, by the way. Enjoy, pervs.