‘THE STRAIN’ Q&A: Miguel Gomez On His Character’s Change in Direction, ‘SOUTHPAW’

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THE STRAIN -- Pictured: Miguel Gomez as Augustin Elizade.  CR. Robert Sebree/FXPreston Barta // Features Editor

THE STRAIN continues to wreck havoc in its corrupted world of vampirism. Enter Augustin ‘Gus’ Elizade (Miguel Gomez), a man who’s out to fix a wrong and end this maddening world of bloodsuckers.

Fresh Fiction recently had the opportunity to speak with Gomez about his role in the show, his character’s new motivation, along with his experience working on SOUTHPAW.

Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade. Photo courtesy of Michael Gibson/FX.

Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade. Photo courtesy of Michael Gibson/FX.

This is based on Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s books. 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?

Miguel Gomez: “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.”

Did you read the novels originally when you got the part to research from there?

Gomez: “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 anything in particular that you find challenging about the role still?

Gomez: “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 grow up watching the horror genre?

Gomez: “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.”

Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade, and Stephen McHattie as Vaun. Photo courtesy of Michael Gibson/FX.

Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade, and Stephen McHattie as Vaun. Photo courtesy of Michael Gibson/FX.

I think it’s say to say we were all a little saddened by the loss of Vaun two episodes ago. Gus only knew Vaun for a short amount of time, but do you think he was able to learn anything from that relationship?

Gomez: “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.”

Now, I gotta say, the conversation between Gus and The Master is one of the creepiest scenes of the show. Was it just as creepy to shoot?

Gomez: “It is super creepy because Adriana Barraza, the lady that plays Gus’s mom, she’s such a wonderful lady. She’s such a beautiful person, and to see her in that makeup and then to hear her speak those words to me, it was definitely something that—the way I am is I allow that into my body, into me, and those fears and those things to sort of awaken. And when I hear her saying these things and I just think back, and yes, it was super creepy to see her in that makeup and to see her completely change, no longer Gus’s mom, just pure evil at that moment. Yes, it was really scary and creepy.”

Do you think Gus is 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?

Gomez: “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.”

Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez) squares off with Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) as Billy's wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), looks on in SOUTHPAW. Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez) squares off with Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) as Billy’s wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), looks on in SOUTHPAW. Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

On top of watching THE STRAIN, you can be seen on the big screen in SOUTHPAW. Lately, there has been a blend of the two mediums of film and television. Did you learn anything on the set of SOUTHPAW and working with Antoine Fuqua that you brought over to THE STRAIN?

Gomez: “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.”

What makes THE STRAIN stand out to you?

Gomez: “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.”

THE STRAIN airs tonight at 10 p.m. e/p only on FX.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.