After several decades in the industry, Emilio Rivera has worked with some very talented people. The 58-year-old has teamed up with Vin Diesel, John Cusack, Nicki Minaj and many more throughout his career and at this point, it’s pretty rare for him to get starstruck. Yet when Rob Zombie called him to feature in his upcoming film 3 From Hell, the actor couldn’t help but get excited.
The longtime horror fanatic plays Aquarius, the son of Danny Trejo’s character Rondo, in the long-awaited movie and finds himself going toe-to-toe with the dangerous Firefly family while they try to evade the law. Emilio Rivera was kind enough to sit down with us for an exclusive interview recently, detailing his role in the movie as well as discussing his opinion on the horror genre as a whole and even teasing some other projects he’s currently working on.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
What was it like to work with a legend like Rob Zombie?
Emilio Rivera: You know what, bro? It’s totally opposite of what I thought it was going to be. I see him and he’s always wild, but when I met him… he’s like the calmest, coolest dude. It was a great experience. totally opposite of what I thought it would be. One of the funnest directors I’ve ever worked with. A really cool cat. Didn’t expect that. It was a surprise, but he’s just very cool. He has his idea what he wants done and then he’s open to see what you think about what needs to be done. Those are the best directors, bro, when they let you work with them.
If you could work with him again, would you?
Emilio Rivera: In a hot minute, brother. I’d work with Rob anytime, man. I had a conversation with him because we had to do some reshoots for the movie and he called me and said “come back and do this” and I go “I’ll do it under one condition” and he goes “what’s that?” and I go “I gotta get a part in any Rob Zombie movie you’re gonna do,” so of course I’d work with him again.
Were you a fan of this franchise before being cast as Aquarius?
Emilio Rivera: I’m more of an old school R&B guy and soft rock, so his lyrics are way out there for me, but I’ve been a fan of Rob’s movies because I’m a horror freak. I love horror movies, so when they called, I was really excited. I thought “whatever I’m doing right now, I need to do this movie.” I’m just glad that they called for me. It’s a privilege, it really was.
That’s what I’m telling you, man: you see his movies and they’re out there, but what makes his movies more scary is that his movies are all real people that actually exist. I mean, we know that Dracula doesn’t exist. We know that It doesn’t exist. We can find them in our dreams, but these people are actually running around out there, which makes it more scary.
What makes 3 From Hell different than any other project you’ve starred in before?
Emilio Rivera: I’m working with psychos [laughs]. In real life, Moseley and Sherri and Rick, they’re just the nicest people. I was tripping out, bro, because I’m used to seeing them the way you see them on the film and they’re just great actors, man, because they’re really people you want to get some coffee with. They’re really cool people. It was a trip. For me, I was blown away by it because I really expected someone coming in loud. It’s just the things you can see onstage…they’re actors, bro. It just makes it even better.
Did you get to spend any time with Danny Trejo on set at all?
Emilio Rivera: No, I did not. We had to film at different times, but I’ve known Danny for 25 years. We’ve spent a lot of time together so when I found out he was gonna be my dad that was pretty cool.
You say you’re a huge horror fan. Is there any franchise you’d really like to be a part of next?
Emilio Rivera: There’s not really anything that scares me out there too much. I mean, you got your superhero movies but they’re not scary. I want to see some more of the It stuff. That’s pretty crazy because that’s more like the dreams. For me, it’s dreams. It’s people dreams because they’re so wild and out there because that’s the stuff you see in dreams. I’ve just seen It and some of the stuff they’ve showed, the animals and the characters are pretty out there. That’s the stuff you see in dreams. The [Rob] Zombie movies…those guys are normal people with twisted minds and that’s what makes it scary. In dreams, you can wake up before you get hurt. When you run into these people though, you try to get away. You hope you can get away.
Are there any upcoming projects on the horizon for you that fans should be excited about?
Emilio Rivera: Every Tuesday night starting last week on FX, I have a show called Mayans M.C. It’s a spinoff of Sons of Anarchy and then I have another show on Netflix that I go back on next week doing season 3 of a series called On My Block. It’s a coming-of-age show. It got Breakout Show of the Year and it’s going on its third season right now.
You’re so often typecast as these dangerous characters, but in On My Block you play a much different type of character. What’s that transition been like for you, and do you find it difficult to go from the roles you usually play to a more comedic role like Chivo?
Emilio Rivera: It’s hard, dude, because he’s like a robot. A lot of people want to express themselves with words and this guy, he’s just like so monotone. It’s pretty hard, but you know what? I finally got him. In the third season, I finally get what they’re going for and I’m glad we got it. Sometime when we’re shooting, I’ll even cut myself and say “are you sure that’s what you want?” He’s just way out there and I’ve been watching it and he’s pretty fun to watch, man. And the kids, the kids are digging it.
The entirety of 3 From Hell was shot in just twelve days. Was that short time frame difficult for you as an actor?
Emilio Rivera: Not too bad because they tell me what happens and here’s what I’m going to do. It’s written and they gave me a scenario and it’s my job to act out that scenario. Luckily, they have it all written out for me and they make it a lot easier. I like those quick shoots, bro. I just do. Rob Zombie told me to do what he wanted and I do it. I do this, that, and bam we shoot it. Makes it a lot easier. Then we just go in there and knock it out and don’t waste anyone’s time.
That concludes our chat, but many thanks to the great Emilio Rivera for his time. Be sure to check out 3 From Hell when it opens in theaters on September 16th for three nights only! Tickets can be purchased at FathomEvents.com/3FromHell