Ghost Rider, Gabriel Luna talks Agents of SHIELD, Team-Ups, and tacos (Interview)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is well into it’s fourth season and this season, Ghost Rider has joined to bring Vengeance! This iteration is of Robbie Reyes, the most recent Ghost Rider who made his debut in All-New Ghost Rider #1. Robbie is played by Gabriel Luna, and we had the chance to speak with him about the role.
We’re only 4 episodes in and this is already shaping up to be AoS’ best season yet. The overall reaction from audiences since you’ve premiered on the show has been outstanding, there’s no doubt about it.
Gabriel Luna: Thanks man, We just gotta get those folks watching it on 10pm on Tuesdays. I’m not sure people caught on to the fact that we are on a different time this year. The response has been strong and I am really pleased and thankful for everyone tuning in and caring about the character.
Agent’s of SH.I.E.L.D was already a hit in my eyes but the inclusion of your character has really put this show above and beyond. What were your initial thoughts after learning you would play the Rider?
Gabriel Luna: I was taking some time off. I had done a show called Harley and the Davidsons which chronicles the first three decades of the Harley Davidson Motor Company and the machines they built. I had just got back and I was traveling around with this other film I did, Transpecos and I was taking a bit of time to support that film. I happen to be in Marfa, Texas, at a film festival, when I was told by my agent, my manager, Melissa. They [Marvel] had been calling us for a couple of months at that point. The part they were calling about, they were really tight lipped about it up until this point. Things started to leak on the internet and I think someone got a note of it, casting wise and we kind of put one-and-one together. They said “You know that character we have been calling about is Ghost Rider? The newest Ghost Rider.” I did kind of a triple take at first and I had assumed they had known I was doing the Harley and the Davidson show and was like “Aw well, this guy rides a motorcycle so we can get him to play Ghost Rider”. I had no idea it was Robbie Reyes, the newest incarnation of the character, created by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore. Actually, we just watched the fourth episode at my house a couple of nights ago. Those guys are great. I did my research and found out about the character and got on a Skype called with Jeph Loeb, Jed and the people at Marvel and we talked about it and the deal was done a couple of days later on a Sunday. I was excited, I called my mom, my little sister and then I called my stunt double, Morgan Benoit, and asked him what he was doing for the next few weeks, to months to possibly a few years. I was like “Hey man, we’re the Ghost Rider.” Now here we are working on it. The fact that all the stars aligned and all the pieces fell into place and Mark Kolpack, the CGI, the stunt guys, we put together a good product and people are really really enjoying the character.
Speaking of the CGI, There has been some memorable moments especially the transformation Robbie goes through when turning into Ghost Rider.
Gabriel Luna: Yeah I know, I had talked to Mark as it was being built. Mark Kolpack, our VFX Supervisor is extremely enthusiastic about his work and extremely passionate about it and what we see on the screen every Tuesday. So much so that he can’t wait, he will just pull out his iPad and say “Look at this, look at this”, next day it’ll be more filling smoke and color, next day more details inside of the skull and the fire is flooding out, in an exhaust type of fashion. Every chance he gets he will show us the amazing steps he takes to getting this amazing picture ready. It’s phenomenal. When he first showed me a version of it, I thought it was fine, I thought that was the version we were going to put on the TV and I thought it was good at that point but what we see now is superb.
Kudos to Mark and the rest of the Visual Effects team. This isn’t something we are quite used to seeing daily, especially on television.
Gabriel Luna: Right, I think really what takes it over the top and brings the realism is that Mark and the guys are actually burning real stuff all the time. They will go out back and at one point they will have a tire on fire and they will just spin it and photograph that and do a composite with what we shot and turn the wheel sideways and there you have the flaming wheels of the Hellcharger burling down Mariachi Plaza, chasing a guy in a pick up truck with a bazooka.
One of the best scenes in this week’s episode was the moment you caught that chain and the battle between Hellfire. How awesome was shooting that fight?
Gabriel Luna: When I read that script at the table read. It was written by one of our writers Matt. One of my favorite lines was “Did two fire dudes just drop into a warehouse full of fireworks?” I read the script and said, “Oh man Hellfire!” Everyone in the comic book world knows that Hellfire is an original descendant of Carter Slade, the original Ghost Rider, the Phantom Rider who appeared in the 60’s in the Western Comic. So Hellfire is Carter Slade’s grandson and he is of the Ghost Rider family tree and Robbie, of course, is the newest Ghost Rider who is drawn from a different side of the tree, which is the spirit side. But I saw two guys who had an ability to light stuff on fire and cause mayhem and I thought it was pretty sweet. It came out really well. I could have done a half hour action piece of those two guys going at it.
Gabriel Luna: I just love growing that world. It’s more niches and corners of the Marvel Universe we can explore and commit to cinemas is always something I’m open to. As an audience member and a fan, I would love to see that. I would love to see something like that. As we all know, they all exist in the same world. There is a great variant cover of Ghost Rider, which is hitting shelves November 1st, it’s a hip hop variant cover from Felipe Smith. It has Johnny Blaze, Robbie in the middle and Dan Ketch all posed like the Cypress Hill “IV” album, doing the “Hear No Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil” hand gestures. To see them all there standing there like that, something spectacular about it.
Aside from Ghost Rider, do you favor any other characters from the Marvel Universe? Are there any you would love to see Ghost Rider team up with?
Gabriel Luna: When I was growing up I loved The Hulk, Wolverine, Silver Surfer, those were my top three. Ghost Rider was one of my brothers favorite characters, I loved Ghost Rider too but there was always something about Wolverine. We all loved Wolverine, those Wolverine comics coming out of the 90’s had some of the coolest story arcs. I think that in terms of who I would like to see Ghost Rider cross paths with. Ghost Rider is powerful, in terms of strength and durability. I would love to see him go against the Hulk. I think he has in the past, I know in the cartoons but not sure about the books.
I loved the whole Dark Reign comic, with Ghost Rider, The Punisher and Wolverine. That’s one of my favorite comic book story lines. The fans have hinted, or more than hinted at times, that they would love to see a Ghost Rider/ Punisher team-up happen down the line. I count myself as one of those fans who would like to see something like that happen. I think they could get along. If… if like I somehow not eliminate him. How do you get vengeance on the guy getting vengeance, that’s like a chicken and the egg kind of thing. But yeah, that would be cool to see as well.
Thanks again for chatting with us today, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has been off to a great start this year and we can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for Robbie.
Gabriel Luna: Thank you.
Now, as a fellow Austinite, I gotta ask, Where’s your go-to place for tacos when you are in town?
Gabriel Luna: Oh, You’re from Austin? Oh wow, I like you a thousand times more now.
Well because it was in the south side and in my neighborhood at the time, I went to Maria’s Taco Express a lot. Maria’s was my jam dude. Their breakfast tacos. I like Matt’s El Rancho, they got some good tacos.
One of my go-to’s is Amaya’s Taco Village. You been there?
Gabriel Luna: Oh yeah, that’s my jam too. Polvo’s is good too, you been to Polvo’s?
Hell yeah. See, I was at a movie festival last week and a few out-of-towners were asking folks in the area, Where to go for tacos and I kept hearing too many touristy responses.
Gabriel Luna: Naw, man. We keep it real, bro. From the 45, down south, Manchaca!
You can catch Gabriel on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D at it’s new time, Tuesdays at 10pm on ABC.
Also, don’t forget to pick up Ghost Rider #1 from Felipe Smith, Danilo Beyruth & Traad Moore, which hits shelves November 1st.
Check out a preview of next week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: