There is nothing like being on a Robert Rodriguez set. The people are just plain cool, the pace is swift and there are guitars everywhere. At least, this was the case when Nerdist got the opportunity to hang with the cast and crew behind the scenes of the new scripted series Matador premiering on Rodriguez’s El Rey Network on Tuesday, July 15. The brainchild of mega producer Roberto Orci, Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie and Andrew Orci, Matador is the story of Tony “Matador” Bravo played by Prison Break‘s Gabriel Luna. Bravo is a professional soccer player for the LA Riot who comes to be known as much for his antics off the field as his moves on it. But what his fans and family don’t realize is that it’s all a cover—in truth, he is a skilled covert operative executing missions for the CIA.
So what does it take to make the cut as a series on El Rey? Says Matador pilot director and network co-founder Rodriguez, “The only rule is that there are no rules. There are no rules in this Fight Club! It’s just to be eye-popping, cutting edge, exciting, visceral and addictive. We just want people to keep coming back because they enjoy the whole experience of the network.” Rodriguez continues, “There’s not many networks that you can point to where the head of the network knows all the movies that are actually playing and all the shows and that is genuinely a fan of them. Just by curating it that way, our audience can know that they can turn on their DVR and they’re going to get something that’s great. They can watch us and get something that they know is curated and that’s been watched and viewed and there for a reason and we’re going to try and provide the reason.”
Roberto Orci, award winning writer-producer of some of the decades biggest films like Star Trek, Ender’s Game, Transformers and Eagle Eye, has been thinking about Matador for a long, long time. He tells Nerdist, “[T]he idea of Matador is something I’ve wanted to do for years but never found the right home for it and when I met Robert he immediately was like, ‘That’s perfect for El Rey!’ And then I teamed up with Jay [Beattie] and Dan [Dworkin] and my cousin Andrew [Orci] and we sort of all developed the idea together and its been one of the easiest development processes I’ve ever seen which probably means we’re screwed.” Orci laughs and continues, “[W]hen an idea sticks with you for years you know that maybe it’s something to do because it wouldn’t go away and it wouldn’t get out of my mind.” Did I mention Orci is also strumming a guitar as we chat?
Rodriguez is equally excited about Matador joining From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series as the second scripted show on El Rey. He told us, “You really want to have a brand identity when you first appear and then you start widening that out and this is already going to widen out the appeal of what we can be about sort of kick ass high octane entertainment by super creative types, having Bob come in and do this for us when he’s at the top of his game, doing the show that he’s always wanted to do. We wanted El Rey to give him the freedom to be able to do it, commit to thirteen episodes season right of the bat and show us what he can do. And I’m excited, I get to direct the first episode or the ‘pilot’ and maybe one other episode down the road.”
Leading man Gabriel Luna also sees appearing in Matador as the title character alongside co-stars Alfred Molina, Nicky Whelan, and Neil Hopkins as the opportunity of a lifetime. Luna explained while playing his acoustic, “I had heard about it [the show] and I was like, wow, a Latin American James Bond, that’s amazing. I could do that. I could, I know I could. And nothing really happened and nobody heard anything about it and sure enough, it came time and the breakdowns came out and it was casting and they still hadn’t found the guy and I came in about a month and half before production and was given the shot that I wanted and that I knew that I couldn’t let it slip through my fingers.”
Matador, created by Roberto Orci, Dan Dworkin, Jay Beattie and Andrew Orci and starring Gabriel Luna, Alfred Molina, Nicky Whelan and Neil Hopkins, premieres on the El Rey Network on July 15 with the first episode being directed by network founder Robert Rodriguez.