Oh, how we’ve missed Los Espookys!
HBO’s idiosyncratic horror-comedy returns this week after three years, “espookier” than ever. The pandemic may have halted production on season two, but the beloved series is back without missing a beat, following the eponymous Los Espookys gang as they create more homemade horrors on demand, all while facing demons of their own—sometimes literally.
For queer creators and stars Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega, the new season was an opportunity to dig deeper into their world, more confident in their vision than ever before. It also gave them space to explore new sides of their brilliant ensemble: The enigmatic Andrés (Torres), the flighty Tati (Fabrega), the pragmatic Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti), the big-hearted Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco), and his idealist uncle Tico (Fred Armisen, also a series co-creator).
Ahead of the premiere, Queerty sat down with Torres and Fabrega to unpack the journey ahead. The pair touched on the “refrigerated treat” of a new season, what it means for Los Espookys to be labeled a “queer show,” and shared the stories behind two of the season’s splashiest guest roles.
Queerty: Ana, you’ve previously said that the second season of Los Espookys feels “much more mature.” How would you say the show has grown and evolved in the three years since season one?
Ana Fabrega: Going into the second season, we just knew the show better, we knew our characters better, we knew the world better. And it all just led to, I think, a much stronger season. With the first season, we made the pilot not knowing if the series would get picked up, so we had one idea of what the show was going to be. It wasn’t until maybe a little more than halfway through the first season that I felt like we started to really find the show. And so then going into season two, I just thought that like, we knew the show so much better.
Julio Torres: I agree, I think that the show has come into itself. [Los Espookys] really understands itself and the world that it takes place in—it feels more like we solved [it.]
Knowing that the entire season was written—and that you were more than halfway through filming it—when the pandemic began, were there elements of the show you wanted to approach differently once production resumed?
Torres: The thing about the world of Los Espookys is that it’s so specific, so departed from our day-to-day lives that it felt like—to me, [returning to] it felt like it was just a refrigerated treat that I could come back to [Laughs.] I don’t know, Ana, did you feel differently?
Fabrega: Not really, to be honest. We left the stories and everything as is. Some shows that had a break, were like, “Oh, let’s change some stuff,” or whatever, and we were like, “We want to shoot what we wrote in 2019!” So, just going back and having our same actors and a bunch of our crew and all that—I think it did feel almost like, “Wow, here’s who I was when the pandemic started,” And then coming back to it, we were all still together. Yes, all this stuff has happened, and we’ve all gone through whatever we went through by ourselves. But it was almost like all of that separate from the show.
Often times, you’ll see Los Espookys labeled as a queer show, and I wondered what it meant for the both of you that the show is viewed through that lens?
Torres: Well, it’s a queer show because it was made by queer people who have mostly queer friends, so they mostly write for those queer friends. [Laughs.] So I wouldn’t say it was intentional—I think it’s very organic, and sort of effortless. It’s sort of like asking me, you know, “Your hair is pink—was that an intentionally queer decision?” [Laughs.] It’s like, “Not really, that’s just sort of what I like!’
I think a big part of that is the reading of our four main characters—who make up Los Espookys—as a sort of “chosen family.” Do you view them that way? Do you think the characters do?
Fabrega: I totally see why people would view it like that. In a way, it’s a group of people who came together because they had things in common and maybe felt like there weren’t other people in their lives who they could relate to in these ways.
But also, yeah, Tati is Úrsula’s sister. [Laughs.] But it’s almost like chosen family!
Torres: There’s something that feels very settled in with their friendship that feels very—they don’t really question it. In the way that you see with friends groups that are maybe not in huge cities, where they just sort of fall into each other and they become friends. They feel settled into their friendships in a way that feels very real.
Switching gears: At this point, I’m not spoiling anything by saying that Kim Petras has a great guest role this season, and I have to tell you that I didn’t even recognize her at first because it was just so unexpected—
How did she come to be involved with the show?
Fabrega: When we were writing, we wanted to have a boss for Ambassador Melanie Gibbons [played by Greta Titelman]. We’re both fans of Kim’s, we both love her music—and, especially when she put out those Halloween albums, it was like, “Oh!” She’s so in this world [already], and also, too, her persona is a version of like a Paris Hilton or a Barbie Doll, so of course she has to be Melanie’s boss. So we wrote the part with her in mind and hoped that maybe she’d be up for it. And we were lucky enough to get her!
And, Ana, you directed the episode she’s in—what was it like having her on set?
Fabrega: It was great. She had never acted in something like this before, and she was very prepared, knew her lines really well, would take feedback, and was just great to work with. Sometimes, if you’re a fan of someone’s there’s [a fear that they’ll] disappoint or something. But, no, she was great. It was so fun to work with her and to have her be a part of the show.
She’s one of a few amazing guest stars this season, as well as Roma’s Yalitza Aparicio, who plays the moon, which is pretty incredible casting. Did you create the role with her in mind, or did the idea that the moon would be a character come first?
Torres: The moon came first. And then we knew that we wanted someone with a with a sort of magnetic presence to play the moon.
Fabrega: I remember talking at one point about, like, should the moon be extravagant or should the moon be glamorous yet subdued. I don’t remember how we thought of Yalitza, but then I was like, “Oh, that’s perfect if the moon, like, looks incredible, but is also kind of soft-spoken and sweet” [Laughs.]
The costumes that Murial [Parra,] our wardrobe designer, made for her are incredible. They’re such fun looks that I think is a very funny contrast: It’s this person who looks amazing, and they really could be over the top, but she’s so sweet and humble.
Speaking of costumes, something that became clear to me watching this season is how each character has this very defined silhouette and style. They’re often in variations of, essentially, the same outfit—like in classic cartoons.
Torres: Right, and that is a very intentional decision from our wardrobe designer and our production designer. I distinctly remember them, like, drawing out characters and being, like “they should have a recognizable silhouette,” right? And, “they should be wearing slightly different variations of the same thing.” And I think that that really leans into the campiness and cartoony aspects of [the show.]
And, with Andrés, he likes excess to a cartoonish degree. And it was just so fun for him to be this vampy Liberace, of sorts. And it’s a testament to our creative team—how much that can do with so little. Because if you could touch Andrés’ garments, they’re like made out of paper. [Laughs.] They’re like modified Zara.
But Tati is at the other end of the fashion spectrum, perhaps—she loves her newsboy caps!
Fabrega: For her, it’s like, “This is function, style—I’m checking all of the boxes with these outfits!” [Laughs.]
Torres: There’s something very 2000s about the way she dresses, too. It’s very… Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan on a red carpet!
As a final note, Julio, in the spirit your fantastic book I Want To Be A Vase, I was wondering: If you had to re-cast each of these characters with an object, which object could best play them and why?
Torres: Oh my god! [Laughs.] Well, I feel like Tati is the closest to the Plunger actually. In the sense that she’s sort of constantly searching for something. But it would be more of the plunger being like, “I’m not sure what i want to be, but it’s not this.” [Laughs.] Andrés would be something decorative, maybe like a glass little decorative thing—maybe a glass swan? And I think Úrsula would be something functional…
Fabrega: Yeah, like a pocket knife!
Torres: Yes, exactly! A Swiss Army knife. And Renaldo, I think, is a throw pillow.
Los Espookys season two begins streaming September 16 on HBO Max.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.