Yep, Season Two of the FX hit series “The Strain” has fans captivated. If you don’t believe me you should have been in Hall H this summer during San Diego Comic Con International 2015. Fans had questions and the cast had fantastic answers.
Miguel Gomez is making his mark on the series playing the role of ex-con Gus. His list of accomplishments include THE DOMINO EFFECT in 2012 and the role of Eugene in the beautiful book-to-film BLESS ME, ULTIMA also in 2012. More recently Gomez can be seen sharing the screen with Jake Gyllenhaal in the boxing film SOUTHPAW as Miguel ‘Magic’ Escobar.
At the end of Season One of “The Strain,” delivery driver Gus has been taken by a renegade group helping the Ancients take out The Master. Let’s see if we can get him to give away any tidbits for Season Two!
Thanks so much for talking to us today.
Hi, thanks for having me.
You’ve gotten lately a lot of stunts, a lot of action scenes, that kind of thing. Can you talk about filming those kinds of scenes?
Yes. I have a lot of fun with the action and getting in there and really doing it for real. I try my best not to use any stunt doubles or anything like that because to me it just feels more authentic when I do it myself. There’s been a few times where I’ve gotten some bumps and bruises, but I think it’s all worth it and I think it all shows in the final product of the show. Yes, it’s been a lot of fun, though.
How did you get involved with the show at the very beginning?
Miguel I went in and I met with the beautiful, amazing April Webster and just talked about the character and what they were looking for. Then I ended up meeting with Carlton Cuse and he was giving me the direction of where they wanted to go with the character, and, yes, everything just fit.
Gus has said many times that he only looks out for himself. He met Angel and Aanya, so will we start seeing that perspective change?
Yes, I think when he said that it was more out of anger. The Master, whoever it was that was talking to him. But, yes, I think when he starts to get close to someone he just naturally has that protective instinct, yes. So, yes, it’s possible.
What is one of the funniest on set memories that you have, since the show is so dark and so serious all the time?
Funniest memories? Actually it was with Joaquin Cosio, who plays The Silver Angel, and Parveen Kaur, who plays Aanya Gupta. Working with them every day, we have so much fun. We laugh all the time. And just sometimes in between takes we’d be freezing because we shoot in Toronto, so it’s like frostbite weather. So, we’re freezing but in the midst of all that we’re still enjoying each other and having fun. This season was actually a lot lighter for me to shoot. It was a little more fun because last season was just intense; everything he was going through was so intense. And this season I was able to have a little more fun with them.
Gus was one of the few that’s had a direct conversation with The Master, and he asked him what he wanted from him and he didn’t get an answer. So, will we see that play out or will that have any bearing on his relationship with the Ancients?
I think Gus is really just stumbling through everything trying to figure out what’s going on. I’m just as confused as you are about what they want from Gus, you know? But, yes, for some reason they keep seeking him out and I think he’s completely confused about it too. He’s just trying to do his best with the circumstances that he’s in.
Is there a degree to which he’s still trying to atone for being the one that drove The Master into New York and unleashed this without really realizing what he had been set up to do?
Yes, I think that’s what really drives him. I think he feels that he lost his mom, and his brother, and his best friend because of his mistakes, and I think his nature is to be protective of the people he cares about and the people that care about him. So, yes, I think that’s what’s driving him, that revenge and that redemption, and I think he has one goal now and that’s to seek out whoever caused all these things to happen to his family and get revenge on it.
The one thing I’ve noticed about your character is that he can be in the room with The Master, the Ancients, or whatever, and he doesn’t show fear. Well, I know he’s afraid. But you just have such a great way of saying, okay, I know this is happening but I’m going to get through this.
How has that helped you develop your character?
I think, like you say, he absolutely feels fear, and some of the things that he comes across is very scary. It’s not that he doesn’t feel that fear. But he comes from the streets, from really rough elements and circumstances, and he’s used to that survival mentality and conditioned to face death a lot, I think. Because in the streets you can really die at any moment, especially if you’re involved with illegal activities it’s always a possibility.
And it’s survival of the fittest. So, he knows how to, I guess, mask that fear. I think even with the clothes he wears and the shaved head and his tattoos, it’s all just battle onwards. It’s all just him adapting to his situation, to his culture, to what’s going on around him. So, it’s really hard. I would say it’s just a wall. It’s a defense mechanism that he has. But, yes, he definitely feels that fear, I would say.
How much of your character are you being allowed to develop?
It’s a really wonderful character that Guillermo del Toro created, and Chuck Hogan, the writer. It’s all there. Gus’s heart and Gus’s integrity, I think it’s all written, but he does come from the streets. I think it all comes from Guillermo and Chuck, but, yes, they just placed me in the world and I just do my best to really live in it, and really try to figure everything out that I can about what’s going on. But it comes from them.
Is there anything that you learned on there that you wanted to bring on set on The Strain to Gus’s character?
Well, I think just the intensity and the dedication that you have on an Antoine Fuqua set, especially when it comes to boxing, that commitment. And really just working with some really great, amazing actors that I look up to, Forest Whitaker, and Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, and 50 Cent, these are all people that I admire, and how humble and how patient everyone is, and how everybody’s fighting for the same goal, everybody’s working together. I think those are the biggest things that I learned on Southpaw. But it’s the same on The Strain set, everybody’s dedicated, everybody’s working really hard to bring this vision to life. So, it was just really nice to see that everybody’s really on the same page.
Gus could hold his own before, but he met a new character, Angel, last night and it looks like maybe we could have Gus learn some advanced lucha libre skills maybe coming up, or do you think that’s a little too spoiler-y to talk about?
Well, he seems like a pretty tough character. He seems like a tough guy. I wouldn’t really want to mess with him. So, yes, he seems like he could be somebody that could really help in the fight.
Do you read ahead to see the arc of your character, or do you go along for the ride like the rest of us by reading each script as it comes to you?
Yes. I do my best to just experience it as the character experiences it. I try my best to not really ask too many questions, unless it’s something that Gus would already know, or needs to know for an upcoming scene. But I try my best to really live in that moment and not really know too much.
Were you always attracted to this particular genre?
No, I never really used to watch horror films or anything like that, because they’re pretty damn scary. I watch more comedy and stuff like that. But, yes, this is definitely something new for me.
Do you have a favorite on television right now?
My favorite show at the moment is The Big Bang Theory actually, as funny as that might sound. People don’t expect that. For me my entertainment is watching something that’s more keeping it light. I go through enough s**t on a daily basis that when I watch my entertainment I want it to be fun. I watch this incredible show called The Strain. It’s a pretty good show.
What kind of reaction have you been getting from the fans? Do they love the character, or love to hate the character?
Well, actually it’s been really great interacting with the fans because it was really important to me to show a different side of this guy that comes from the street. And I think what’s really great about Gus is that what they’re ultimately saying in the show is you can’t judge a book by its cover, and people have been really giving him a chance and really seeing who he truly is. I think he’s just a guy that’s trying to do the right thing, really loves his family, and is really just doing his best with the circumstances that he’s in. So, yes, for the fans to actually see that and give him a chance, it’s really been an honor to play a character like that.
What’s Gus’s take on the vampire apocalypse, is he just trying to survive it, or is he actually actively fighting against it?
Yes, I think at first he’s trying to survive it. But when it takes his mom, and his brother, and his best friend, now he’s actively seeking revenge for that and he made a decision that he’s going to fight or die now. I think he’s at that point where he wants to get some revenge for what happened.
What do you think he has learned from Vaun, do you think it has changed Gus in any way?
Well, I think it’s important to remember that Gus, he’s there against his will. They kidnapped Gus. Gus has no loyalty to these monsters. These are just people that have taken him, and they’re holding him, and they’re basically forcing him into working for them. So, there’s no loyalty to them. He wants to get away as quick as possible. He doesn’t want to be anywhere near these monsters, and especially after seeing what they did to this innocent man, the Ancients they basically tore him apart. The good that came from it was that he got some really good training, and I think he’s really equipped now to fight these vampires, and he learned a new way to actually kill them, and he knows how to fight, and he knows how to engage in combat with these monsters. So, yes, he definitely learned the skills. But I think his thing was he needed to get away from them as soon as possible.
What was it like working with Stephen McHattie?
Yes, he’s a cool cat, man. He’s a really cool guy. He’s pretty quiet, man. But, yes, he’s a really great, incredible actor.
What’s the best advice as an actor that any one has given you?
I think the best advice would be to just fully commit. Just be fully committed and really live in the moment. Be there. Allow this to happen. Somehow, some way the universe has put me here in this position and whatever it is that’s happening in that scene, it’s happening to me in real life. That’s my best way of trying to put it and trying to see it, that it’s actually happening to me.
If I had just woken up out of a coma and I’m here, and I’m seeing these sorts of things play out in front of me, just believing in them as if they were really happening. And just working with these guys, really I just watch them. I just watch how they interact with different people, and really just their commitment, just be committed.
What is Gus’s story is going to be for the rest of the season? Is it a story of fighting back? Is it a story of redemption?
I think he wants redemption. He wants revenge for what happened to his family, to his mom, his brother, and his best friend. And whoever’s going to help him get that revenge, he’s going to ride with, he’s going to be down with. And, yes, that’s it. That’s it.
Do you have a favorite scene that you’ve filmed so far in Season 2?
I think it’s been really fun to work with Aanya and the Silver Angel. I keep going back to that because last season was so intense for me and it was rough to get through just because of what was going on with the character. And this season I was able to have a little more fun and actually meet some people that make him happy in a way. They remind him of his childhood. And, yes, just working with Joaquin Cosio and Parveen Kaur has been really great.
Your character is more isolated, is there a point where we’ll see you meet up with some of those other main characters again?
Yes, it’s pretty lonely. It’s like a lone wolf; you’re going through this whole thing by yourself. But I think his intentions and his motivations are in line with the rest of the cast. I think they all want the same thing. So, yes, I think if they cross it would actually be really great for everybody because they all want the same thing. They all want to defeat this sickness.
What was like when the cast began working together?
We had a very first cast dinner with everybody. And I don’t know, ever since that everybody sort of clicked and everybody was really in the same space. I don’t know, I just remember it being a really good moment. Everybody was really happy, and I think, yes, since the very beginning everybody really clicked.
What is it about The Strain that really has made it such a fan favorite show so quickly?
I think The Strain is not trying just to scare you. There’s a political message, there’s a spiritual message that goes along with the show I think. And even deeper than that, it brings people from different walks of life together because I think in order to defeat this thing you need people from different walks of life. Nobody’s more important than anybody else. The billionaire needs the guy from the street, and the guy from the street needs the scientist, and the scientist needs his son.
If you really look at what’s happening – it’s love. Everybody needs to be together as one. I think it’s very important. It’s an incredible message for us as humanity. We need to all be together. Why does it take something like a sickness or an alien attack for us to realize that we’re just one? We’re all one and we all need each other. I think that’s what people connect to. They realize that we need each other. We’re all human beings, and ultimately what’s going to save us is love.
Did you take anything from the books?
Yes, I had to read the novels to get an understanding of who the character was. But the show is actually a lot different than the novels, so I had an understanding of who the character was, but as far as a lot of the things that he’s going through, yes, they are pretty brand new to me. I try to keep it that way so that is authentic when it happens on set.
Is there a challenge in this role?
Yes, every day there’s a challenge. Every day you try to figure out what it is that the writers, and Carlton Cuse and Guillermo, what they’re trying to say, what message are they trying to get across. Yes, there are always difficulties with trying to figure out what it is exactly that Gus is going to do next, and what his intentions are and his motivations are. Yes, it’s always a difficulty.
Did you see Vaun as a mentor?
I don’t think he was necessarily a mentor. I think he was a kidnapper. I don’t think Gus trusted Vaun for one second, especially being there against his will. I think he made an attempt to help him as much as he could, but at the end of the day this was somebody that has you against your will and is forcing you to do something that you necessarily wouldn’t choose to do. And then on top of that you lead me into this battle and you’re the first one to go. Now, it’s like okay, you’re saying one thing but then you’re really not. Okay, so at the end of the day he had no loyalty to this person who kidnapped him.
Do you think Gus knows what the vigilante group is up to?
I think he’s even more confused now. I think the only good thing that came from it was the training, because this vigilante group was supposed to be the team to really give this fight a good chance supposedly, and to be the first ones to go in that way, it was shocking.
So is Gus going to teach how to rip out the stinger with his bare hands, or is that something you want to just keep for yourself? No, I think it would be a good idea. I think as many people that can know how to defeat these things. It would be great for even the rest of the cast and the group to know there’s more than one way to kill this thing, especially if you don’t have a weapon on you at that time. Speaking of, Vaun gives Gus a gun with two bullets. This is a thing where they’re like this is not funny, this is your life at risk and at danger. So, it’s like one of those things where you don’t trust really what’s going on at all.
You run the gambit of emotions in your scenes. Is there a favorite or just enjoy all aspects of getting to play him as he’s thrown into all of these different scenarios?
Yes, the filming is so intense that any time that we have a scene where he can actually be happy, or connect to his childhood, to me that’s the most fun. But my favorite part about the character is showing the message behind the character I think is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. If you give somebody a chance, you might really find something that’s really helpful, or really good about that person. And I think that to me is the most, I guess, rewarding thing about playing a character like him.
How was your experience at Comic Con from last year to this?
Last year we were explaining what the show was about, and this year fans have come up to me and tell me more things about my character than I knew. They knew more about the character than me, and just them giving us a chance. And certain fans have come up and said, “I really thank you for showing this character and showing him in a different light, and giving him some good things, and some good qualities,” which comes from the writing, which comes from Chuck Hogan, and it comes from Guillermo del Toro also. Those things I think, that was the plan from the beginning.
But for the fans to see that and connect to that, and hopefully motivate or inspire someone that comes from rough circumstances to try to be the best that you can and not be a victim of your circumstances. To me, that’s the thing that’s really rewarding and inspiring to me in playing a character like that. It’s really an honor.
Thanks for joining us today Miguel!
Thank you guys for talking to me. I really appreciate it.
We’d like to thank Miguel again for talking with us about his character and the series. We have the feeling that Gus is going to be getting in deep and can’t wait to see where this character goes! There is so much going on in Season Two of The Strain so don’t miss one single episode airing Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. e/p.