EXCLUSIVE | 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' star Daniel Zovatto says show's a 1930s film noir with many twists

In an interview with MEA WorldWide, Daniel Zovatto talks about his character Detective Tiago Vega and what sets 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' apart from the original series


                            EXCLUSIVE | 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' star Daniel Zovatto says show's a 1930s film noir with many twists
Daniel Zovatto (Getty Images)

Costa Rican actor Daniel Zovatto has been working in TV and films since 2012. Known for his roles in movies like 'Don't Breathe', 'It Follows' and 'Innocence', he now stars as Detective Tiago Vega on Showtime's 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels'. In an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), the actor talked about his character, the show, and what you can expect to see from this 'Penny Dreadful' spinoff.

Zovatto began with introducing his character — Detective Tiago Vega and his family. "Tiago is a chicano. He's the first LAPD Detective in the police force."

He mentions that the show opens with a flashback of Tiago as a child and his connection with the supernatural. "In the first five minutes of the story you get to see how close he gets from that supernatural element. He literally gets touched by Santa Muerte, and is scarred with a handprint, and he still has it and will have it for the rest of his life," he said, adding that this leads to a little turmoil with Tiago's mother.

"His mom is this believer that Santa Muerte is the angel that protects you, that guides you. And Tiago is a litlte bit different because he got to see it first hand when he lost his father, amongst Santa Muerte holding him. So he knows it's real. He saw it first hand so in many ways, I think, throughout his life, he's kind of battling this reality that he knows is imprinted in his chest," he said. Santa Muerte (Lorenza Izzo) means different things to Tiago and Maria Vega (Adriana Barraza). "So there's a little bit of a different way of perceiving her, but definitely she's very vital to the family."

Where the show really starts, however, is when Tiago first makes detective. "The story kind of starts when he's given a detective badge, and celebrating with his family," he said. "When we meet Tiago, we definitely see that there's a lot that he's carrying with him from his childhood, and he's obviously a very determined person. There's a lot of self-discipline, and him always pushing the envelope and the boundaries, and that's kind of who he is as a person."

Actor Daniel Zovatto poses for a portrait at the Village at the Lift Presented by McDonald's McCafe during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2015, in Park City, Utah (Getty Images)

Auditioning for the role was an extra long process, taking about four to six months until he got the call from show creator John Logan, telling him he would be playing Tiago. "I spoke to a lot of historians," he said, adding that he spoke to a lot of people who "put me in the right direction using books about the period and about what chicanos were going through, and just LA in general."

He also spent a lot of time going over the character with Logan. "There was a lot of conversation with me and John Logan and him giving me little sound bytes of what your character's gonna be going through," he said. "There's a lot of work on the backdrop of things and that historical element, but also a lot of work on the character because the way that John Logan describes the character, he's kind of like a Hamlet."

"There's definitely a lot of ups and downs and you get to see Tiago in a lot of different places. Sad, anxious and full of nerves and a lot of different emotions that are required on that show."

Zovatto talked about the issues of immigration, culture and racism that the show takes on and just how much it reflects on modern times. "I think any of us can kind of see whatever piece of art and get whatever we want from it. The message is whatever you want it to be. I think definitely, there's a lot of parallels, with what's going on today. And I feel like a lot of the things that are unjust for a lot of people back then are still unjust for people now."

He went on to let fans know what they can expect from the series. "I mean, it's a hell of a show. First of all it's Joe Logan, and he's a creative genius." He talks a little about Natalie Dormer's role on the show. "There's Natalie's character, which is kind of critical to the whole story in many different ways, and she plays different characters that manipulate things and make things happen, so it's a show that is full of turns and twists."

Daniel Zovatto and Nathan Lane in 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' (Showtime)

He brings up the original 'Penny Dreadful' and says that while the creators are the same, the two storylines don't connect at all, but there are parallels. "I think in many ways this story kind of has the same elements of monsters, but they're not Frankenstein or whatever, they are the monster within us and the things that humans and people do."

Aside from those parallels, however, 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' is an entirely new story. "'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' is completely different from the original 'Penny Dreadful', and there are no characters that come from the first iteration to this one or anything of that sort. It's just a completely different take," he said, praising creator Joe Logan's vision. "I'd say go ahead and watch all the stuff he's done because everything's very different and this will show you that it's gonna be a different kind of show but it's gonna be really good in that way."

"It's one of those shows (where) obviously you are gonna see the magnitude of the sets and the clothing, and the cars, and everything. Like, the world that was created for this world," he said, and talked a little more about the world the show is set in. 

"If anything, it's a Latin flavor. It's the flavor of how LA was filmed. That's the flavor you're gonna get. You get the 1930s. The whole Victorian thing, you put that in LA, it's a comedy, I think, so if you're looking for a flavor, it's definitely that. It's Latino, chicano, LA. You know, film noir."

'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels' releases April 26 on Showtime.

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