5 Things We Learned from D.J. Cotrona

DJ Cotrona

Photography by Mitchell Nguyen Mccormack for Da Man magazine

Fans first swooned for Donald Joseph “D.J.” Cotrona when he was in the film Dear John as Noodles, a pal of Channing Tatum's John Tyree. He followed that with a hunky role as Flint (again with Tatum) in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Last year, he starred in Robert Rodriguez's television series From Dusk Till Dawn as Seth Gecko (made famous by George Clooney in the original film by Rodriguez) on the director's El Rey network. "They can expect blood, heightened dialogue, action, stunts, and horror," Cotrona explains. "It's a slick mashup of noir, western, and horror, all in classic Robert Rodriguez style. We take the characters into completely new and unexpected directions." He's back for Season 2 on August 25, and in an interview with Da Man magazine, he explains why he loves acting and what he'd be doing instead of killing vampires on TV.

On what it's like working with director Robert Rodriguez:

"We’re unique in the sense that we’re a singular vision. Robert’s our creator, writer, director, editor, composer, DP [director of photography] … and even our cook half the time. We have an amazing team helping create and flesh out all aspects of the story, but Robert oversees and controls it all. His vision isn’t watered down. We don’t answer to anyone but him, so our look and tone stays unique. Nobody creates more iconic pulpy characters than Robert and Tarantino. Dusk lets you follow some of their best ones in new stories."

On how he got the role in the Dusk TV series:

"It all happened fast. Got a call to meet with Robert with an hour’s notice, sat down, and talked about work, what we’ve been up to, and then he explained his vision and the way he would shoot it and direct it. A few days after that, I read with some other actors and then finally Zane, and about a week after I was at Troublemaker Studios putting on the suit."

On working with George Miller, and how he almost played Superman:

"I love George; I had a great time in Australia with him and his crew and I learned a lot from him during that experience. He’s one of the greatest storytellers of our time. He recently came down to Austin, and we had a chance to hang out and reconnect. I was disappointed when it fell through, but it all happened as it was meant to. George asking me to work with him gave me a confidence boost at a time when I needed it. That was a gift in and of itself. Mad Max: Fury Road was the film he was meant to make. The world needed that movie. It’s a masterpiece. It took him 15 years to get it to the finish line, and it was worth it. I’m a huge fan of Zack Snyder since Dawn of the Dead, so I can’t wait to see his take on it. The Batman v Superman trailer looks incredible."

SLIDESHOW | D.J. Cotrona

On how he approaches roles as an actor: 

"As an actor, I want to work with a director I respect and a character that’s interesting and fun to play. When the source material is iconic, there’s going to be comparisons. People are precious with the films they love, myself included. What gave me confidence was that this wasn’t some other guy reinterpreting what Robert did the first time. It’s Robert himself. He asked me to revisit it and create a new interpretation with him. When you get that opportunity, you just dive in. My 'process' was probably the same as the other guys on the film: Read the dialogue, make some choices, and trust Robert. Buckle down and do your job. I’m proud of the work we’re doing together."

On what he'd be doing if he weren't acting:

I’d love to write full time; I plan on directing at some point. I love tearing stuff down and rebuilding around the house my dad built houses for a living, so I guess it’s in my blood. But I’m very happy to do this as long as I’m afforded the opportunity... Love to travel, love to write, draw, paint, read … I come from a family of gearheads so there’s always a project in the garage. I’m basically your run-of-the-mill human male.

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series returns Tuesday, August 25 on El Rey. Watch a clip below:

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