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From Dusk Till D.J.

From Dusk Till Dawn star D.J. Cotrona on shaving, stunts and the show’s second season

When From Dusk Till Dawn first appeared on screen it was 1996 and the film, written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez, told the story of criminals, kidnappers and a strip bar inhabited by vampires. Nearly two decades later, Rodriguez has revived the concept for his El Rey TV network and the resulting (and very popular) series is about to enter its second season.

Here, star D.J. Cotrona talks about working alongside Rodriguez, the high stakes of the new season and just how he’s spending his time off. 

You guys just finished filming the second season?

Yeah, we finished about two weeks ago. And I stopped shaving.

Is that what you do when you’re done?

Whatever they’re making me do for work, when we finish, I tend to do the opposite.

What else does that include?

For the first half of the season [my character] was kind of a slob, a drug-addicted recluse. And in the second half I cleaned up, so I was shaving every day, making myself look presentable. Now I’ve gone back to looking like a recluse because it’s easier. It’s funny.

Having finished filming, do you miss being on set?

I miss Austin in general. We’ve been there for a couple years now working on this project and I fell in love with the city, the people, the culture, the food and the music. It’s such a great blend of small town and big city. And we’re down there working with Robert Rodriguez, who has  been there his whole career with the same crew he’s used for the majority of his projects. It’s family style and very insular, so we all got very comfortable very quickly. 

The guy’s got his own studio down there and runs the network. It must be a blast.

I’ve got to tell you, that’s part of the allure of the job. Robert is such an established director and I am such a fan of his work. When you come into Troublemaker Studios to work on a project with Robert, you become family. We’re all down there and it feels like being in a sandbox making an independent movie. Robert has become a very close friend and collaborator and I think it translates onto the screen. 

Was making the second season different from making the first?

The first season we obviously retread a lot of moments from the original film to remind the audience of what had happened. We kind of had a pretty solid concept of what the storyline was going to be, but it veered off toward the end. For the second season, we’re completely off the rails. We take these iconic characters and throw then into completely new scenarios. It was a lot of fun.

Is it bigger, bloodier?

It is! We’ve got some serious insanity this season, and stunt-wise nobody goes bigger or crazier than Robert does. We have a lot of amazing stunts and gun battles, all the stuff that people love him for. We just push it a little bit further.