Looks like MTV has another hit on its hands, with the supernatural series Death Valley debuting at No. 1 in its timeslot. The show follows the exploits of the LAPD's elite Undead Task Force as it patrols the San Fernando Valley seeking out the vampires, zombies, and werewolves that have mysteriously overrun the place.
They'll soon meet one of The Valley's most important — and wickedly hilarious — new residents when they come up against Rico, a very well-connected vampire played by R.J. Cantu. In an exclusive Wetpaint Entertainment interview, we caught up with R.J. to find out more about Rico and the hysterically grizzly world of Death Valley.
What can you tell us about your character, vampire Rico?
Well, Death Valley is a new horror comedy that kind of mixes Sean of the Dead and Reno 911. Rico's going to be here starting in the third episode and then continuing through the series. Rico is kind of a new type of vampire. We're trying to go in a new direction with him because of course all these vampires have been done before. Rico throws these wild parties that are called GB-GB parties: "Give Blood, Get Buzzed." Girls basically come to hang out with Rico to get buzzed off his saliva. It's called a "black kiss," and it's pretty trippy. I can't reveal too much, but some things go down at these parties and it just gets crazier and crazier.
What else sets Rico apart from other vamps we've seen?
There really hasn't been another Latin/Hispanic vampire before. I think it'll be cool. Rico kind of likes everyone to call him "Rico Suave." It will be interesting to see how people react to Rico because it's going to be a different take on the vampire than people are used to seeing.
How do you like playing a vampire?
Oh, it is so much fun. I mean, male actors in Hollywood, there's two roles that they would love to play — the pirate or the vampire. And I get to play one of them.
How to the different monsters get along in Death Valley?
Right now, vampires are the main alpha creatures on the show ... but they said that as the series continues there's going to be more mixing between the three [vampires, werewolves, and zombies], which will be interesting.
Who's your favorite vampire?
It would probably be Gary Oldman in Dracula. He's creepy, but at the same time smooth. He's one of my all-time favorites.
Does Rico think the Undead Task Force unfairly hassles monsters?
Oh, yeah. But he's not really affected by them. I think for Rico it's more about the Underground Mafia.
You get to work with Lost's super-lovely Tania Raymonde, who plays UTF officer Carla Rinaldi. What's that like?
Oh, great. She's such a star. She's so funny and intelligent, which is great on set. We have a blast. She's really cute. And we also work with Bryan Callen [Captain Dashell] from The Hangover. I learned so much from him. He's so funny. His timing is so good. It's different to try horror mixed with comedy. I mean it's been done, but for television it's a little different. I learned a lot from Bryan.
How psyched is the cast that you debuted at No. 1 in your timeslot?
For a first pilot, we're really excited about that and we just hope that the fans keep going up, that it continues to break out. We're completely stoked that we got the number one watched show in that timeslot. We just hope that the fans build up as the show gets more momentum. And I can definitely say that with this show you're going to be in for a ride because that pilot is only introducing you to the style of the show. We didn't get into any of the storylines yet. It's so different. It's never been done on television. As an actor, I read a lot of scripts, and I constantly see a lot of crap. But with this one, I was like, "Wow, this is different. It's going to be new. It's going to be fresh."
What other shows are you looking to this fall?
The Secret Circle is one that kind of caught my eye because it's dealing with magic and I'm a huge fan of magic. I'm a magician myself. It's from the creators of The Vampire Diaries, which I'm kind of a fan of, so hopefully they'll do the show justice.