Meet Tony Bravo, a DEA-agent-turned-CIA-operative. His mission? To take down the owner of a professional soccer team by posing as one of its star players. Not the most unassuming cover in the world, but somehow, by episode five of El Rey’s Matador, it appears to be working.In May, Rotten Tomatoes visited the set of Matador to see behind the scenes of tonight’s “Enter the Worm.” In episode five, Tony Bravo (Gabriel Luna), Peter Gadiot (Caesar), and Alec Holester (Tanc Sade) travel to Nicaragua on the private jet of team owner Andres Galan (Alfred Molina). We didn’t go to Nicaragua, but there’s still plenty of cool stuff to report from Simi Valley, CA, where the shoot took place.
1. Gabriel Luna knew he could be the “Latin James Bond.”
Nine months before Gabriel Luna’s first Matador meeting was a reality, he had a feeling about the show when he saw it in the trades. I was like, ‘Oh my God. That is me. That is me. I could do that.’ I knew it with every cell in my body that I could do it. All I knew was ‘Latin James Bond.'” Luna said. “Just the idea of someone with shades of melanin, holding himself together, being eloquent, and being a leading man, is something very rare.”
2. Tanc Sade is a record-breaking freediver.
When he’s not acting, Tanc Sade is a competitive freediver, which means he plunges into great depths of water without a breathing apparatus. “I grew up spearfishing, so I’ve always had a breath-hold,” Sade explained. “I was out here and I randomly met a girl in a bar who was on the U.S. National Team, and she said she was a freediver so I challenged her to a breath-hold at the bar. I won and then she said, ‘You should come train with us,’ and so I started training with her a few years ago.” Sade can hold his breath for about seven minutes and was the national champion last year.
3. Alfred Molina loves to binge-watch TV.
“The last thing I binge-watched was all the episodes of Justified. Wow,” Molina said. “Five, six episodes a day. You’re totally immersed in it. There’s no commercials. It’s worth every penny. Going out and buying the box set is worth it because you can go into a world if you’ve the time. I can’t remember the last time I watched a TV show at the moment it’s being transmitted. You know, DVR, it changes everything. I think that’s why the whole notion of what’s acceptable on TV has changed.”
4. You can buy tonight’s Matador set for a cool $49.5 million.
In order to achieve the look of tonight’s international episode, Matador shot “Enter the Worm” at the Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Simi Valley, CA. Turns out the property is currently on the market with an asking price of $49,500,000. The hefty price tag includes a 13,000 square-foot Mediterranean-style mansion, 16 guest houses (for a total of 57 bedrooms and 40 baths), parking for over 300 cars, and an FAA-approved helipad — all on 123 acres.
5. Robert Rodriguez gets free drinks for life at The Four Seasons.
For one of his meetings with Matador executive producer Robert Rodriguez, Luna went to the Four Seasons, where Rodriguez gets free drinks for life because, “apparently, he ordered the millionth drink at the Four Seasons a few years back — like the millionth drink they’ve ever sold — and now he gets all the free drinks he wants,” Luna explained. “But he doesn’t drink. He gets iced teas. So here we are, two Texas boys, over iced tea, talking about music.” A pretty cool moment for the Austin-born Luna who referred to Rodriguez as “one of the godfathers of film.”
6. Roberto Orci knows how to make an entrance.
Matador co-creator Roberto Orci (Sleepy Hollow, Star Trek) is super-fun to be around, according to Luna. “Bob is a like the court jester,” Luna said. “We were at a party the other night, and he’s introduced, and he does a somersault into the grass and pops up. He’s just really excited and gives you a lot of confidence. He gives you all the tools and the words to look really, really cool. And he’s a cool guy himself. I mean, he’s Bob Orci. What hasn’t he written in the last eight years?”
7. Sade has a soccer double, but hasn’t used him yet.
Sade, who plays the Beckham/Ronaldo-esque Alec Holester, has been training with a soccer coach to make sure he looks like a professional player. “It’s episode five and I haven’t used my soccer double yet, so I’m very, very proud of myself,” said Sade, who had never played soccer before Matador. “The [double] has had to cut all his hair off, dye his hair, shave his legs, and gets a fake tan every episode because he’s pale, and I’m not.”
8. Luna’s grandfather wanted him to work for Robert Rodriguez.
Sadly, Luna’s grandfather didn’t live to see his grandson cast in Matador, but he saw it coming. “Any time Robert did something, [my grandfather] would cut out the story from the Austin American-Statesman — all the stuff with Robert, you know — and I’d go visit him, and he’d be like, ‘This is the guy you should work with, Gabe,’ and I’m just like, ‘Yeah, I know, but things gotta happen.'” Eight years later, Luna met with Rodriguez on what would have been his grandfather’s birthday to talk about Matador. “I got my chance, so I think he’d be really happy.”
Episode five of Matador, “Enter the Worm,” airs tonight on El Rey at 9:00 p.m. See pictures for season one here.