Science fiction is a booming genre on television, in movies, and on book pages. The otherworldly and the unknown come from places we might be afraid to imagine and enter into our normal lives, uprooting those lives and forcing us to react, whether it’s a good experience or something sinister and scary, it depends on the specific story that is told.
Pantaya’s new miniseries, El Refugio, places a family on a rural Mexican ranch in the aforementioned situation, forcing them to stick together amidst family problems and discover what exactly is watching from outside during the cold desert nights, an answer they may not want to know.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with four of the talented actors from the Spanish-language thriller, who told us what it was like to film in the frigid night temperatures of the rural Chile, how fun and familiar it was to work with each other and how the creepy and horror elements gave some of them a jolt of frenetic energy that helped them with their performances.
Among those interviewed are the child actors Isabella Arroyo, aged nine, and Diego Escalona, aged eleven. Their participating adult co-stars, Zuria Vega and Camila Valero, give them nothing but praise.
Find out more about the filming and the story in the following interview. And see the mystery that unfolds in El Refugio, now available for streaming on Pantaya.
Thank you so much for being a part of this and talking to us about the El Refugio series. To start with, I wanted to ask the four of you if you could talk a little bit about your roles?
Well, I’m really happy to be part of the first science fiction series in Latin America. I feel very proud, Arturo, that both Fabula and Pantaya and Starzplay have dared to show the world that Latin America can do this type of content and do it well.
Mainly that. And two. Well, it was so much fun doing science fiction. It is a joy because all the time you are facing the unknown as an actor, as an actress and as a spectator. Then filming it becomes, it becomes a joy. And to make this character, Paula, who is a character that comes to cause intrigue, since she appears on the screen because you don’t know what’s up. And I’m not going to tell you because I’m not going to spoil it for you, but she’s a bit of a ‘poker face’ character, isn’t she? So you don’t know, she’s a backpacker girl who doesn’t know what’s going to happen to her and that becomes a challenge because you can’t join too far to one side or go too far to the other. You have to be in a very exact middle point.
Well, my character’s name is Sofia. I am the oldest sister of the three brothers in the show. We come from a loss that was our (Diego, Isabella) older sister, there were four of us. So Sofía’s story revolves around healing from this loss, finding her new place in this family, as the older sister, feeling alone and making new bonds. And well, in the face of this mysterious threat that we began experience as a family, the only thing left is to unite and survive.
Well, my character is called Diego. Now we are namesakes Diego and Diego. And well, my character is a genius boy who, as the series progresses, does math calculations from the moment he sees a certain time when it is going to happen and he always carries his notebook in which he does his calculations. So, really, that’s my character, a genius child whom they sometimes limit a bit on this issue of what happens to his mother because he doesn’t want to get us involved.
So it kind of makes me angry and for my part I always look for a way to investigate what is happening, how I can get the calculation done, and how it will happen. The moment I’m right, everyone starts to believe me. So that’s really my character.
My character is called Emilia, and she is a girl who found out everything that was happening because her sister was saying, “well, it’s not that it’s not normal for them to be putting this on the news.” Since those things you’re saying, actually happened, I also felt like that’s the reason why it’s happening like something weird. That is what I think of my character, for whom there are also several things that you will see, you will see. Because this series is going to be great.
How was it for you filming this series in Chile? Because it is a science fiction series with physical action, was it difficult? Was it scary?
It was exhausting. We filmed it in a place that was an hour and a half from Santiago called Pirque. In the winter and at night, practically 85% of the series. So it was a series where, above all, we as Mexicans were not used to those temperatures, to be filming under those temperatures with blood, with effects, motorcycles, weapons, VFX.
So I think it was something that helped, because at the end of any shoot, when you have been filming at night for a long time, something happens in the mood in general, of the crew, of the set, of everything, because it changes you. And some kind of survival mode is activated. You are living backwards. You’re going against your schedules. You are tired, you have bags under your eyes. And I think that also greatly favored the state of mind that we would all have to have within this series to film it.
Well, we arrived in Chile a year or so ago, we were just filming the series and really the pandemic was already quite light in the world, but in Chile there were still many restrictions, So we were in very closed conditions, we really didn’t have much life outside of the series, but I think that personally helped me to be very focused, to really immerse myself in the story, in the character.
But well, it was also a challenge that we filmed it in the winter, it was very cold, we had many night calls in the mountains, in the forest, so the weather conditions were difficult. But I think that also helped us, it could be the adrenaline or a bit with the emotion of the moment.
For me, recording this series was something very cool, it was something that I experienced very well. Just as Cami says, we were in pandemic conditions, so it was also because we couldn’t do much in Chile, but even so, what we were able to do I enjoyed to the fullest. It was also very difficult since I had to leave Mexico.
And because since the pandemic, the borders are very closed, unfortunately my daddy couldn’t go, but for me, it was something super nice. Living with Cami and Diego was something beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
In my experience, well, ever since I found out about the casting, I was moved to learn that it was a science fiction series and then that it was going to be filmed in Chile. Since I heard that I was very excited. So later we went to Chile and yes, as they say, we had to take great care of COVID, even though it was already decreasing, we spent five days of quarantine there.
So that became very difficult because we couldn’t leave the room and everything, but now we could be a little more free from everything, from the pandemic and all that. When we had to record the first day, it felt like a real family, we supported each other. For me, I really liked meeting Cami and Isa, we had a great time singing and singing, we had already said that. So, for me, my experience was very beautiful, working in another country and meeting new people, new actors, colleagues, brothers, sisters, so this was a very beautiful experience.
And Zuria, what was it like working with the cast, including the children, on a project like this?
Oh, the children are wonderful. The truth is that they are two such talented children who achieved such complex things. And the rest of the cast? Well, Alfredo Castro is one of the actors I admire the most. For me it was a privilege to be able to share with El Refugio set. Sharing with Alberto, my husband, who leads the cast, the truth was also a very nice experience, familiar, right?
Moving to another country in the middle of a pandemic sharing the set. I think we were very lucky and rarely does something like this happen with Ana Claudia, with Camila, with Paloma, Gabriela Cartol, who became a dear friend of mine. I think that something that has happened and is happening now a lot about platforms and I really like diversity on the set, cultural diversity, right? Being able to learn how Chileans work, how Argentines work, how Mexicans work, capture all of that on a set. I think the more diversity, the more content there is, deep content I mean.
Not only behind the scenes, but in what is reflected, also in what one sees. And I think that is something incredible that is happening to a lot of platforms.
Finally, why would you recommend this science fiction show that will be in the United States on the Pantaya streaming app?
First, because you are going to be entertained, which I think is the number one goal of our profession. Turn on the TV, get hooked and want to see the other five chapters, because there are six. It’s short, you´re going to finish it fast. And I think you will be proud. I think you’re going to be surprised when you see the quality of the manufacturing of what we did.
So I would tell you to give yourself a chance, that it is a story that will catch you, that reality is always stranger than fiction. So there are many issues and many things that are not so unrelated to what we have experienced in the last three years. So, that’s it, don’t miss it starting this June 23.
El Refugio is now available on the Pantaya app.