SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of the upcoming second season of The Exorcist
“I still have no idea how they’re going to manage to accommodate all the schedules, but I know they’re going to do it,” The Exorcist star Alfonso Herrera says about when his other resurrected show, Netflix’s Sense8, is coming back for its finale.
It has been quite the past few months for the former RBD singer as Fox seemed to be take its time on bringing back the critically acclaimed but ratings fighting The Exorcist, the series co-starring him and Ben Daniels and based on William Peter Blatty’s novel. When the series finally escaped renewal purgatory and was formally picked up May 12, Netflix pulled the plug just three weeks later on the big-budget Sense8 from Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski, less than a month after it launched its Season 2.
A massive fan “outpouring of love,” to quote Lana Wachowski, saw the streaming service revive Sense8 on June 29 for a finale to wrap up its storylines.
With The Exorcist Season 2 set to debut on September 29 and new additions John Cho, Brianna Hildebrand and Zulekiha Robinson joining Herrera’s Father Tomas, Daniels’ Father Marcus and Kurt Egyiawan’s Father Bennett, Herrera chatted with me about the duel rebirths.
Before a Comic-Con panel today with his fellow Exorcist cast members, creator Jeremy Slater and new showrunner Sean Crouch, Herrera also discussed the relationship on and off screen between the Olivier Award-nominated Daniels and himself, plus what he thinks the significance is of being a Latino lead on a network show in Donald Trump’s America.
DEADLINE: You’ve have a remarkable past few months with not one but two shows seemingly going down then coming back to life. What was it like waiting to hear if there would be another season of The Exorcist?
HERRERA: It was a long wait and I can say this, because Ben and I, we were in contact, we were still in touch, so we had to wait a lot, which makes you anxious. So when Fox said yes to another season, it was great news. It was amazing news to hear that it was back on track. So we were very happy, and we are very excited to continue this journey of these two characters.
DEADLINE: The pressure and the spotlight are lessened and a little dimmer in a way now that The Exorcist is going into a second season. But what was it like for you last year shouldering a new version of sorts of a piece of horror and cinematic history?
HERRERA: At the beginning, it was frightening because all of us on the series shared the same opinion. Touching the Holy Grail of horror, touching an important and an epic movie and connecting that to a TV show — there was a huge responsibility. Huge, huge, huge responsibility. But at the same time, there was also a huge opportunity, and I think that we took that, and we tried to do our very best. Each and every single member of the team with their abilities, tried to do that. I think the guys in the writing room did such an amazing job on the series.
The strong and the very well-focused writing was a big factor and having some homage to the first movie, but not exceeding on those. So, yes, at the beginning, it was frightening, but I think, thanks to the backbone and to the strong backbone of the story, we were able to succeed, and I think we will be able to do that again with this new season.
DEADLINE: And, of course, there was Netflix suddenly bringing Sense8 to an end after two seasons with the story left unfinished.
HERRERA: It was more or less the same with both shows. There was a lot of uncertainty for one show and for the other show. What I can tell you is that the day of the announcement, I received an email from Netflix’s Peter Friedlander, who is an amazing guy, and he thanked me for all the effort that we all did and specifically for all the effort that we did in Mexico City. And I said, well, that was it. I have to say goodbye in my own personal way to my character from Sense8, to Hernando.
DEADLINE: But not really goodbye after all…
HERRERA: Exactly, then suddenly, this huge hurricane came of fans after the release about Sense8 came. Thanks to them, we’re back on track, and we have this two-hour special that we’re going to do — though I still have no idea when they’re going to do this.
DEADLINE: Have you spoke with Lana, and Lilly, and J. Michael since Netflix decided to bring Sense8 back for the two-hour finale? Have they given you any sense of when this might happen?
HERRERA: Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I sent Lana an email of happy birthday not so long ago, and she responded with a beautiful email, but we didn’t talk about the storyline. We just talked, about her birthday and how happy she was, and that was it.
DEADLINE: So, nothing is scheduled yet?
HERRERA: (laughs) I still have no idea how they’re going to manage to accommodate all the schedules, but I know they’re going to do it. Because thanks to the fans, I do think that miracles happen, and thanks to the fans for bringing Sense8 back.
DEADLINE: Back to your other show that is also back, how will the second season of Exorcist differ from the first for Father Tomas?
HERRERA: Well, Tomas, in a certain way, was a man with a family, a community, a loving congregation, a fast life and career in Chicago, and now all of that is totally gone. It’s replaced by a decision that he made, and that decision results in a lonely, dangerous life on the road, and that’s going to be a huge part of Tomas’ arc over the new season.
So, we’re going to begin with these two priests in this completely different location and Tomas continue to perfect and to finesse his skills as an exorcist. Meanwhile, there is this other family up near Seattle led by John Cho’s Andrew Kim, who has four foster children, one played by Brianna Hildebrand. Tomas and Marcus, as we see very clearly in a certain way with the new poster, they go to their aid.
Now, also, I think this is going to be very interesting, too because Tomas and Marcus, they have very different views, and that is going to generate a lot of tension between them. Ultimately, I guess, and I think that that is going to affect their abilities on how they work together and how they team up.
DEADLINE: Speaking of that, the core of The Exorcist series is the relationship between Tomas and Marcus. How is the dynamic between you and Ben as actors?
HERRERA: Let me tell you this, every single time we go to film, we have a blast. Yes, we come from very different backgrounds and he lives in England and I live in Mexico City, but I remember when we shoot the pilot, I took Ben to the wrestling match and the fun we had. I took him to have some tequila and mezcal in Mexico City, and he’s always a guy that likes to have a laugh between takes, and I enjoy that, too. I think that that helps everyone to be relaxed and to have a good time, even though sometimes the scenes are so dramatic and so intense.
I mean, Ben will finish a huge, dramatic, intense scene, and suddenly, he comes up with a joke, like, right away. I’m like, how do you manage to divide your brain into doing the scene, and at the same time, make a joke? That’s how Ben operates, and he’s great. He’s amazing.
I think that in a certain way that that helps to build a good relationship, and not just with us, but also with the team. I think because I’m a huge soccer fan and we always say that if you have good locker rooms, you’re going to have a great team, and I think that this is the case of The Exorcist. I think we have great locker rooms. We have great camaraderie, and I’m pretty sure that the second season is not going to be the exception.
DEADLINE: Going into the second season, the country has seen a shift since Exorcist debuted last fall. Donald Trump won the election in November with immigration and building a wall between America and Mexico as two of his main issues, to put it mildly. For you, as one of the few Latino leads on American network television, what is this environment like?
HERRERA: I’m glad you asked that because I think that we’ve entered a very peculiar time in America. I feel very grateful, particularly with the writers and particularly with the network, with the entire team making me part of this story and portraying a Latino that completely stays away from the cliché and the stereotype, and I’ve been very, very clear about this one. Sometimes in American movies and in American television, the cliché of Latinos and specifically of Mexicans is very strong.
And to portray a Mexican that doesn’t have a mustache, that doesn’t have a sombrero, and that is not necessarily a drug dealer, it’s a little step on portraying what we are, what we are as a culture, what we are as a nationality. We are more than that. I feel very proud of my roots, and I feel very proud of my nationality. I am very proud to portray and to show something more grounded and something more real, specifically in this peculiar time.