Premieres Tonight, Tuesday, July 15th at 9pm ET/PT on the El Rey Network
The fact is, I was not impressed with the trailer, but watching the first episode of El Rey Network’s Matador I found myself rooting for the first “Latino Bond” (Gabriel Luna) ever to grace a TV screen. To have the amazing Allred Molina playing the villain only added to the curiosity of how the story would develop. With a second season already announced even before the first season premiered, we will get that chance. Created by Roberto Orci, Dan Dworkin, Jay Beattie and Andrew Orci, Matador premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT with a pilot episode is directed by Robert Rodriguez.
Tony Bravo (Luna) is a DEA agent from Boyle Heights who is recruited by a little-known branch of the CIA to investigate the owner of the soccer team the L.A. Riot (and an telecom company). To get close to him he goes undercover to tryout for the team persuaded by CIA agents played Annie Mason (Nicky Whelan) and Noah Peacott (Neil Hopkins). The likelihood that Bravo will even make it to the second round is doubtful but his actions at the tryouts and social media, lead to a permanent gig both in the team and undercover.
Executive producer Roberto Orci sold the idea for a show about a Latino soccer player by day and a secret agent by night to El Rey’s head honcho Robert Rodriguez in a span of a minute which lead to an order for thirteen episodes.
Looking for a Latino actor who could play a spy, a former athlete, a loving son with just the right dose of charm was tough, says Orci but Luna fit the bill. A native of Austin, Texas, Luna remembers watching Rodriguez’s El Mariachi at the young age of thirteen now here he was starring in his first lead role on television being directed by Rodriguez.
Interviewed at the Television Critics Association press tour Molina and executive producer Roberto Orci and Luna shared their thoughts about their characters and the show.
Roberto Orci on the difference between pitching a show like Matador at El Rey…
“I sat down with Robert and he said ‘I am doing El Rey do you have anything that might be a good idea’?
Well I always wanted to do a story about the world of soccer, about a soccer player by day and a spy by night and he said ‘let’s do it – 13 [episodes]. Let’s do it right away’. I literally walked out of the meeting saying ‘are you serious’. Already this interview is longer than the pitch.”
Pitching to broadcast networks:
“First there is averbal pitch to see if there is any interest then you write out the treatment. Then they say yes to that and they buy one script. Then you write the script and then if they like the script, then maybe you get to make a one-hour show and then maybe after that, if they like it, maybe they pick up a season, we’re talking a process that takes forever. [With Matador] That is why we got to plan ahead, normally you don’t know if you are going to do a show you don’t know if its going to be on television till months after you produced it so you almost forget what you were talking about when you wrote it.
Alfred Molina on being on the show and his character of Galan.
“I’m really excited in my career to work with young actors, directors and a new generation of writers who come with a whole new energy and that keeps me young…very excited. This was a great opportunity, plus the fact that I recognized the character so well — that was almost scary.
Gabriel Luna on playing his first lead role in a series
“I understand, I am not a familiar face, but I have been doing this [acting] a long time. I have been in a lot of independent film, stage productions as the central character. I know what it is to carry a project from start to finish and I try to lead by example. I knew I couldn’t come to this project and be shy about it… and thankfully, persons like Fred, they support you.”
Orci on creating a Latino character for TV
“You come to know Tony Bravo without any pre-conceived notions of who he is. You meet him and that is who he is you are not embracing some previous image. Television is a great place for creating characters because you get to live these characters for a while.
Hopefully the networks can feel confident when they see a show like this and when they see the quality of the show. You know, no one is trying to be evil; sometimes it’s just hard to take a risk. Hopefully this will make it easier.”
Veteran actors Elizabeth Pena and Oscar Julio Mechoso play Tony’s parents; Yvette Monreal plays Galan’s naughty daughter Senna.