Talking With The Strain’s Miguel Gomez! On Set Memories! Loving The Big Bang Theory! Chatting With The Master! And More!

My new addiction, The Strain keeps getting crazier every week. One of my favorite characters on the series is Augustine Elizalde aka, Gus played by Miguel Gomez. I absolutely LOVE him! At first he came across as a street thug, a young misfit. I assumed that he was just one of those characters that might not survive to see the next season. To my surprise, Gus not only played a crucial part in the entire vampire apocalypse, but his character kept developing and definitely became much more than what meets the eye. When you can dismantle a vampire with your bare hands, you know you got a keeper. I really hope we’ll get to see a lot more of Gus this season. He had a pretty rough first season, so let’s hope things will start looking up for him this time around. It’s about time he makes some real friends. 

Pictured: THE STRAIN logo

Miguel Gomez embraces the character and portrays Gus brilliantly. I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk to him this week. He was so humble and incredibly sweet. I totally failed to contain my excitement. If you still haven’t checked it out, I think it’s time! The Strain airs on FX Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. Below are some of the questions he answered for us. Some may surprise you!

How did you get involved with the show at the very beginning?

Miguel: I went in and I met with the beautiful, amazing April Webster and just talked about the character and what they were looking for. Then I ended up meeting with Carlton Cuse and he was giving me the direction of where they wanted to go with the character, and, yes, everything just fit.

You’ve gotten lately a lot of stunts, a lot of action scenes, that kind of thing. Can you talk about filming those kinds of scenes?

Miguel: Yes. I have a lot of fun with the action and getting in there and really doing it for real. I try my best not to use any stunt doubles or anything like that because to me it just feels more authentic when I do it myself. There’s been a few times where I’ve gotten some bumps and bruises, but I think it’s all worth it and I think it all shows in the final product of the show. Yes, it’s been a lot of fun, though.

THE STRAIN -- "Fort Defiance" -- Episode 203 (Airs July 26, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade, Stephen McHattie as Vaun. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Last night’s episode we heard Gus say a number of times that he looks out for himself, he only looks out for himself. But he met Angel and Aanya, so will we start seeing that perspective of his change a little bit?

Miguel: Yes, I think when he said that it was more out of anger and he was really talking to [indiscernible], The Master, whoever it was that was talking to him. But, yes, I think when he starts to get close to someone he just naturally has that protective instinct, yes. So, yes, it’s possible.

What is one of the funniest on set memories that you have, since the show is so dark and so serious all the time?

Miguel: Funniest memories. Actually it was with Joaquin Cosio, who plays The Silver Angel, and Parveen Kaur, who plays Aanya Gupta. Working with them every day, we have so much fun. We laugh all the time. And just sometimes in between takes we’d be freezing because we shoot in Toronto, so it’s like frostbite weather. So, we’re freezing but in the midst of all that we’re still enjoying each other and having fun. This season was actually a lot lighter for me to shoot. It was a little more fun because last season was just intense; everything he was going through was so intense. And this season I was able to have a little more fun with them.

THE STRAIN -- "Fort Defiance" -- Episode 203 (Airs July 26, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Last night Gus was one of the few that’s had a direct conversation with The Master, and he asked him what he wanted from him and he didn’t get an answer. So, will we see that play out over the rest of the season, where he’ll come back into contact with The Master, or will that have any bearing on his relationship with the Ancients?

Miguel: I think Gus is really just stumbling through everything trying to figure out what’s going on. I’m just as confused as you are about what they want from Gus, you know? But, yes, for some reason they keep seeking him out and I think he’s completely confused about it too. He’s just trying to do his best with the circumstances that he’s in.

As you said, he said that last night in anger, that he’s only looking out for himself, and that’s really not all there is to the story. Is there a degree to which he’s 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?

Miguel: 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.

THE STRAIN -- "The Silver Angel" -- Episode 204 (Airs August 2, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Joaquin Cosio as Angel Guzman Hurtado, Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade.

You actually touched on it a little bit, in the conversation that your character had with The Master, but that has to be one of the creepiest scenes in a really creepy program. So, what was that actually like to shoot? Was it as creepy to shoot as it came across on the screen?

Miguel: 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.

THE STRAIN -- "BK, NY" -- Episode 201 (Airs July 12, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade, David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

The one thing I’ve noticed about your character is that he can be in the room with The Master, the Ancients, or whatever, and he doesn’t show fear. Well, I know he’s afraid. But you just have such a great way of saying, okay, I know this is happening but I’m going to get through this. How has that helped you develop your character?

Miguel: I think, like you say, he absolutely feels fear, and some of the things that he comes across is very scary. It’s not that he doesn’t feel that fear. But he comes from the streets, from really rough elements and circumstances, and he’s used to that survival mentality and conditioned to face death a lot, I think. Because in the streets you can really die at any moment, especially if you’re involved with illegal activities it’s always a possibility.

And it’s survival of the fittest. So, he knows how to, I guess, mask that fear. I think even with the clothes he wears and the shaved head and his tattoos, it’s all just battle onwards. It’s all just him adapting to his situation, to his culture, to what’s going on around him. So, it’s really hard. I would say it’s just a wall. It’s a defense mechanism that he has. But, yes, he definitely feels that fear, I would say.

THE STRAIN -- "BK, NY" -- Episode 201 (Airs July 12, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade, Stephen McHattie as Quinlan. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

How much of your character are you being allowed to develop?

Miguel: It’s a really wonderful character that Guillermo del Toro created, and Chuck Hogan, the writer. It’s all there. Gus’s heart and Gus’s integrity, I think it’s all written, but he does come from the streets. I think it all comes from Guillermo and Chuck, but, yes, they just placed me in the world and I just do my best to really live in it, and really try to figure everything out that I can about what’s going on. But it comes from them.

The two mediums of film and TV have blended so much in the last couple of decades I was curious is there anything that you learned filming on the set of Southpaw, something as big as an Antoine Fuqua movie, coming back to The Strain is there anything that you learned on there that you wanted to bring on set on The Strain to Gus’s character?

Miguel: Well, 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.

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Gus could hold his own before, but he met a new character, Angel, last night and it looks like maybe we could have Gus learn some advanced lucha libre skills maybe coming up, or do you think that’s a little too spoiler-y to talk about?

Miguel: Well, he seems like a pretty tough character. He seems like a tough guy. I wouldn’t really want to mess with him. So, yes, he seems like he could be somebody that could really help in the fight.

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: 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.

THE STRAIN -- "The Silver Angel" -- Episode 204 (Airs August 2, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade, Joaquin Cosio as Angel Guzman Hurtado.

CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Were you always attracted to this particular genre?

Miguel: No, I never really used to watch horror films or anything like that, because they’re pretty damn scary. No, I watch more comedy and stuff like that. But, yes, this is definitely something new for me.

I’m wondering if you like to watch TV, and if so, what do you like to watch?

Miguel: My favorite show at the moment is The Big Bang Theory actually, as funny as that might sound. People don’t expect that.

Quite different from the show you’re in.

Miguel: Yes. For me my entertainment is watching something that’s more keeping it light. I go through enough shit on a daily basis that when I watch my entertainment I want it to be fun.

THE STRAIN -- "The Silver Angel" -- Episode 204 (Airs August 2, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Parveen Kaur as Aanya Gupta, Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

What kind of a reaction have you been getting from the fans? Do they love the character, or love to hate the character?

Miguel: Well, actually it’s been really great interacting with the fans because it was really important to me to show a different side of this guy that comes from the street. And I think what’s really great about Gus is that what they’re ultimately saying in the show is you can’t judge a book by its cover, and people have been really giving him a chance and really seeing who he truly is. I think he’s just a guy that’s trying to do the right thing, really loves his family, and is really just doing his best with the circumstances that he’s in. So, yes, for the fans to actually see that and give him a chance, it’s really been an honor to play a character like that.

THE STRAIN -- "The Silver Angel" -- Episode 204 (Airs August 2, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Joaquin Cosio as Angel Guzman Hurtado, Parveen Kaur as Aanya Gupta, Miguel Gomez as Gus Elizade.

CR: Michael Gibson/FX

What’s Gus’s take on the vampire apocalypse is he just trying to survive it, or is he actually actively fighting against it?

Miguel: Yes, I think at first he’s trying to survive it. But when it takes his mom, and his brother, and his best friend, now he’s actively seeking revenge for that and he made a decision that he’s going to fight or die now. I think he’s at that point where he wants to get some revenge for what happened.

Last week’s episode was actually pretty sad for a lot of fans, losing Vaun and the rest of that crew. The question I had is even though Gus knew Vaun for a very short period of time, what do you think he may have learned from Vaun, and do you think he may have changed Gus in any way?

Miguel: 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.

The Strain Season 2 Samantha Mathis 1

What was it like working with Stephen McHattie? Fans love him.

Miguel: Yes, he’s a cool cat, man. He’s a really cool guy. He’s pretty quiet, man. But, yes, he’s a really great, incredible actor.

You worked with Antoine Fuqua, you worked with Kurt Sutter, who wrote the script, who’s a phenomenal writer and director in his own right, obviously you work with Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse on The Strain, what’s the best advice as an actor that any of those guys have given you, because that’s a pretty powerful brain trust to work with over a couple of projects.

Miguel: Yes. I think the best advice would be to just fully commit. Just be fully committed and really live in the moment. Be there. Allow this to happen. Somehow, some way the universe has put me here in this position and whatever it is that’s happening in that scene, it’s happening to me in real life. That’s my best way of trying to put it and trying to see it, that it’s actually happening to me.

If I had just woken up out of a coma and I’m here, and I’m seeing these sorts of things play out in front of me, just believing in them as if they were really happening. And just working with these guys, really I just watch them. I just watch how they interact with different people, and really just their commitment, just be committed.

As we get into the second half of the season, as much as you’re able to tell us what would you say you feel like Gus’s story is going to be for the rest of the season? Is it a story of fighting back? Is it a story of redemption? What do you feel like his story is for the rest of this season?

Miguel: Yes, I think he wants redemption. He wants revenge for what happened to his family, to his mom, his brother, and his best friend. And whoever’s going to help him get that revenge, he’s going to ride with, he’s going to be down with. And, yes, that’s it. That’s it.

Your character’s a little more isolated than some of the other characters in the show, so I’m wondering is there a point where we’ll see you meet up with some of those other main characters again? And what’s that like for you?

Miguel: Yes, it’s pretty lonely. It’s like a lone wolf; you’re going through this whole thing by yourself. But I think his intentions and his motivations are in line with the rest of the cast. I think they all want the same thing. So, yes, I think if they cross it would actually be really great for everybody because they all want the same thing. They all want to defeat this sickness.

The Strain Season 2 Samantha Mathis 3

There’s such a great chemistry between this cast. I know it’s Season 2, so you guys have had quite an opportunity to gel, but was it there initially when you guys began working together? Did you all spend some time to bond?

Miguel: We had a very first cast dinner with everybody. And I don’t know, ever since that everybody sort of clicked and everybody was really in the same space. I don’t know, I just remember it being a really good moment. Everybody was really happy, and I think, yes, since the very beginning everybody really clicked.

You are part of social media, but you’ve only shared one item. Is that your secret way of finding out through fans what their thoughts are on the episode without them knowing?

Miguel: No, I don’t really see it that way. I don’t know, I’ll get better at it I think.

Well, do you enjoy that instant fan feedback at least that you receive during episodes when fans do write you and tell you their thoughts?

Miguel: Well, I don’t really get on social media very much. But definitely when I run into fans, or I come across fans and they really see the heart of the character, really see the heart of Gus, that’s what really inspires me and motivates me, and I really appreciate that. It’s sort of an honor to hear that kind of feedback.


What do you think it is then about The Strain that really has made it such a fan favorite show so quickly?

Miguel: 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.

Is there anything in particular that you find challenging about the role still?

Miguel: 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.

Vaun was a bit of a mentor of yours, for better or worse, right?

Miguel: Well, I don’t think he was necessarily a mentor. I think he was a kidnapper. I don’t think Gus trusted Vaun for one second, especially being there against his will.

So, you weren’t that sorry that he fried?

Miguel: I think he made an attempt to help him as much as he could, but at the end of the day this was somebody that has you against your will and is forcing you to do something that you necessarily wouldn’t choose to do. And then on top of that you lead me into this battle and you’re the first one to go. Now, it’s like okay, you’re saying one thing but then you’re really not. Okay, so at the end of the day he had no loyalty to this person who kidnapped him.


Do you think Gus has any better idea now than he did before about what that vigilante group was really up to?

Miguel: I think he’s even more confused now. I think the only good thing that came from it was the training, because this vigilante group was supposed to be the team to really give this fight a good chance supposedly, and to be the first ones to go in that way, it was shocking.

Now, maybe you’ll have an opportunity to mentor the Silver Angel along a little bit. I just wondered if you’re going to teach him to rip out the stinger with his bare hands, or is that something you want to just keep for yourself?

Miguel: No, I think it would be a good idea. I think as many people that can know how to defeat these things, it definitely [indiscernible]. It would be great for even the rest of the cast and the group to know there’s more than one way to kill this thing, especially if you don’t have a weapon on you at that time.

Speaking of, Vaun gives Gus a gun with two bullets. This is a thing where they’re like this is not funny, this is your life at risk and at danger. So, it’s like one of those things where you don’t trust really what’s going on at all.

I can’t thank Miguel enough for taking the time to talk to all of us. He needs to get on that Twitter wagon, so we could poke at his brain more often. Thanks for an awesome chat Vampire Slayer! The Strain airs on FX Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.

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