Los Espookys Cast and Creators Talk World-Building, Selflessness, and Cheap Scares

The show has a kind, matter-of-fact vibe about both sexuality and the supernatural, according to creators and stars Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, and Fred Armisen along with costars Bernardo Velasco and Cassandra Ciangherotti.

by | September 15, 2022 | Comments

While the HBO comedy series Los Espookys is known for its episodic flights of fancy — courtesy of things like duct tape and egg cartons — it has a few recurring plot threads and even a cliffhanger or two to resolve when its second season premieres on Friday. But creators Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, and Fred Armisen assured Rotten Tomatoes one important character will return: Pepito (Gustavo Rojas). Fabrega and Torres were quick to add, however, that he is a character who must be used in moderation.

“[He’s] an intense flavor, and you don’t want to overwhelm the palette,” Fabrega said.

“Pepito has to be used sparingly … just a dash,” Torres added.

Los Espookys key art

(Photo by HBO)

The character is one of many recurring faces populating the unnamed Latin American country in which the series takes place. For those new to the show or in need of a refresher, Bernardo Velasco is Renaldo — not Reynaldo — a horror film nerd in his late twenties who starts a business orchestrating horror film “spooks” for people around town with his friends Andrés (Torres) and Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti). Also along for the ride Úrsula’s sister Tati (Fabrega), a rare individual who often plays the victim in their spooky events. But, as part of the program’s secret recipe, the goofy, cheaply-crafted stunts, generally work out and help the people who hire the team, collectively known as Los Espookys. From people who need a horror night to a scheme to prove an inheritance to a U.S. ambassador, the first season featured several characters who would seemingly be one-off appearances, but end up building out Los Espookys’ world and appear time and again. The second season will be no different as some of the most fun characters return.

Although, as Fabrega put it, the process of building that world is very loose.

“There’s no sort of map that we look at and go, ‘OK, where have we gone? And where can we go?’ I think it just organically developed on its own,” Fabrega said.

Torres added: “One time, I was staring at YouTube and I stumbled into the concepts of ‘hard world-building’ and ‘soft world-building’ and how hard world-building is like Harry Potter. There are rules; things that can happen and things that cannot happen. I would say that Los Espookys is soft world-building, and we know what the tone is, but anything can happen.”

Julio Torres in Los Espookys

(Photo by Pablo Arellano Spataro/HBO)

Torres’ character, Andrés, is one example of the changeability of the series. Initially presented as the self-absorbed, adopted heir to a chocolate fortune, Andrés’ history became increasingly complex, including a ruse about his adoption and the introduction of a demon, La Sombra del Agua (Spike Einbinder), who has lived in his mind for many years. And though he learned a few things from exploring those aspects of himself, Torres said it would be easy for him to snap back into old patterns.

“I think in him, we see someone try to change and want to change, but finding it difficult too. I think [it] is very relatable, how you can change someone’s context completely, but they will still be the same,” he said.

Although, as viewers will soon see, some of his supernatural context will change, just like his living situation.

Spike Einbinder in Los Espookys

(Photo by Pablo Arellano Spataro/HBO)

The fluid nature of the supernatural within show is part of its almost matter-of-fact way of presenting things. And the acceptance of the unexplained also helps Los Espookys pull of their stunts.

“Everyone buys it — [they] can see the cables they’re hanging from, but everyone thinks it’s real,” Fabrega explained. “I think there is this element of their world [that] is filled with these [odd] things. So, none of the stunts that Los Espookys put on seem out of place and also people are going to believe what you put in front of them, even if it doesn’t look very polished.”

Los Espookys

(Photo by Pablo Arellano Spataro/HBO)

In the less fantastical part of the series, Renaldo starts a quest in the first episode which may or may not see him resolve his very ambiguous sexuality.

“I like that he’s not sure and maybe he doesn’t know if he’s ready to go there with himself,” Fabrega said.

Velasco added, “Every time I think about it, I think that Renaldo, at the end of his [overall] journey, will just be happy with the idea that he doesn’t need another human body around to be good and to feel great. Maybe he’ll decide to not open [that door].” Of course time will tell if that’s the case. In the interim, though, there’s plenty of fun to be had and plenty of people to help.

Los Espookys

(Photo by HBO)

Although, as hinted at in the first season, Renaldo’s selflessness may be a little too developed, a trait he shares with Úrsula and his tío, Tico (Armisen), a man who elevates helping people into an art — even as a valet. But as the season begins, his circumstances change. Nevertheless, he still wants to be of help.

As Armisen explained, “[He’s] definitely locked into making his daughter happy, which ends up being impossible.”

Ciangherotti said she literally had a dream about Úrsula’s selflessness, in which she and Fabrega realized that the funny thing about the character is her impulsiveness in regard to helping others.

“The funny thing about [it] … She can’t help herself from helping!” the actor said. “Then I woke up, and I understood her.” Add to that Úrsula’s preternatural inability to fooled and you get a character who also ends up oddly isolated. “She was raised by her own sort of wolf. She’s a lonely girl, and you can feel that about her … [it’s] the price of being aware and awake,” she said. But her selfless streak will lead to a running plot which sees her getting involved in an election.

It is an idea that might seem grandiose, but plays out in Los Espookys more contained fashion.

As Velasco explained, “The big goals don’t seem too much like the goals [we see on TV]. I like that freedom; the characters don’t need to be pursuing [the usual objectives]. I think there is another level of matureness or understanding about their lives just to solve the everyday gig.”

Those gigs continue to be hilarious predicaments the group must contended with even as their lives embrace slightly more complication.

Ana Fabrega in Los Espookys

(Photo by Pablo Arellano Spataro/HBO)

And as for Tati: “[She’s] constantly changing and shifting depending on how she feels and where she thinks she’s at in her life and of what’s next,” Fabrega said.

Of course, a dramatic (in the TV sense) change for any of the character might upset the more matter-of-fact nature of their world. The embrace of the supernatural, different types of genders, and Tati’s job of the week all speak to the show’s overall charm: an acceptance of seemingly everything and anything.

“There’s something very organic about the way the show comes about and [the way] people live their lives,” Torres said. “I feel very lucky that there’s never been any pressure to portray things a certain way or make some sort of grand statement. [The characters] are just people living in the city. Some of the parts of the city are really nice and some of the parts of the city aren’t really nice.”

Fabrega joked, “The drug lords [arrive] in season 3.”

“It’s another world, and we get to know the people,” Ciangherotti added. “Their sexual preferences are integrated in a way that it’s not a dramatic, and that’s the sign of the show. It’s so unique in that matter, and I cannot think of a show that has this kind of representation, that it’s not exclusively from [the standpoint of] ‘We are the Latinos living in America’ or ‘We are the Americans going into just whatever.’ We’re people in this world, and this is our thing, and that’s the difference.”

Los Espookys

(Photo by Pablo Arellano Spataro/HBO)

Velasco credited that gentler acceptance of things within the show’s world as offering “flexibility to play with all these concepts and not underline it.” Although never the focus of the plot, sexuality and gender, for example, are “really always present in the show, and I love that.”

Despite the show’s kinder, matter-of-fact vibe about both representation and the supernatural, Torres felt the characters are more fleshed out than they were in season 1, and getting a better grip on “what makes them happy, what makes them sad, what they want, what they can’t have” leads to a season that may seem more wistful or melancholic than the moment-to-moment jokiness of the show overall. Although, that perception is down to the viewer. Make no mistake, Los Espookys remains funny in its unique mix of absurdity, soul-searching, and making lives better via the notion that horror movies can heal.

- - premieres on Friday, September 16 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

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