Gabriel Luna is set to impress with his debut in the “Terminator” franchise and round two as the enigmatic “Ghost Rider.”
There’s a fine art to playing a convincing antihero, and Gabriel Luna showed the world that he got it when he donned the mantle of Ghost Rider in the fourth season of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” This was also the role that really turned him into a major household name. Even better, Luna is set to reprise his role as Robbie Reyes—the fifth Marvel character to turn into the supernatural antihero/superhero—in a new series created by Hulu.
While we’re waiting for Luna to return as Ghost Rider, he’s set to appear in one of the most-anticipated movies of the season, “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Besides sharing the screen with franchise veterans—and Hollywood legends—Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, Luna will be playing the villain. As any “Terminator” fan can tell you, the advanced model Terminators acting as the antagonists have always been a major highlight of the movie series. So, before we see him as the eerie but cool liquid-metal robot from the future—and before he returns as the hero with the flaming skull as a head—we had a quick chat with the actor to gain some insight into his upcoming roles and maybe score a spoiler or two…
DAMAN: Hi, Gabriel. Awesome to have you in the magazine! How are you doing?
Gabriel Luna: I’m great. Thank you!
DA: So, first and foremost, we’re about a month away from the release of “Terminator: Dark Fate.” How excited are you about this one?
GL: I’m fired up about this film. I can’t believe opening weekend is almost upon us.
DA: What was it like working and training with and then squaring off against the original Terminator?
GL: To work with Arnold Schwarzenegger was exciting. I simply tried to bring my best each day and follow his example when it came to discipline and work ethic. A friend of mine put it very eloquently when it came to training with Arnold. He said: “Dude, you’re experiencing the Super Bowl of training sessions.” He’s right.
DA: One of the most beloved aspects of the “Terminator” movies have always been the villains: Cold and seemingly emotionless, yet incredibly compelling and unforgettable. What was your approach in bringing the technically-lifeless Rev-9 to life?
GL: First I worked out the physicality of the character, paying close attention to efficiency of movement and focus and awareness of my surroundings. Once I received the script, and our director Tim Miller gave me his blessing to infuse as much humanity into the “human simulation,” I started to layer some personality and human behaviors.
DA: On that note, do you feel that there’s extra pressure on you since you’re playing in a storied movie series and as one of the most beloved parts of it?
GL: During the shoot, I applied enough pressure on myself to do the work and get it right for the fans, that I don’t feel the pressure now. Mostly because I’m confident in what we’ve made and I can’t wait for audiences to see it.
DA: The “Terminator” franchise has been a bit of a hit-and-miss, recently, but expectations are high for “Terminator: Dark Fate” what with the return of the old heroes, a compelling new villain and the darker theme. For you, though, what do you see as the best part of this new movie?
GL: I love how our film just doesn’t let up. In the tradition of the first two “Terminator” films, it just comes at the audience in constant barrage of action, but doesn’t sacrifice the emotion and great character moments between Sarah Connor and the new heroes.
DA: We’ve also heard that Hulu’s “Ghost Rider” series is officially underway, with you reprising your role as Robbie Reyes. What can you tell us about the show’s setting and story?
GL: Absolutely nothing. [Laughs] Marvel’s got their snipers right outside my house to make sure I don’t reveal any spoilers!
DA: You’ve spent quite a lot of time building up your version of Robbie Reyes in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Will we see a completely new Ghost Rider or will we see something that’s already a bit familiar?
GL: I can’t wait for you to find out when the show drops next year.
DA: When you’re playing a man whose head is on fire—or a robot from the future that’s partly liquid—there’s obviously a lot of CGI going on. What kind of challenges does this add to your job as an actor compared to what you deal with in more traditional films?
GL: You know, for me it grants more freedom. You can go big in those moments, so your performance can break through to the surface so to speak. I really enjoy that whole aspect of the job, and how it requires you to use the whole body to tell the story.
DA: Again, there’s a lot of buzz around the new “Ghost Rider” series, particularly since you really killed it with this character in “AOS”—with plenty of fans arguing that your Robbie Reyes is better than how he was depicted in the comics. Tell us, what is your secret here?
GL: Everything I did in the show was rooted in something I drew from the comics. Felipe Smith creates such a complete character with great pathos that I needed only to be true to the books. I’m just happy the fans responded the way they did.
DA: By the way, according to Marvel, the new “Ghost Rider” series would be more mature—something along the lines of Netflix’ “Daredevil.” In your opinion, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Or is it simply something different?
GL: We’re definitely going to be turning everything up a notch. The Ghost Rider is a dark character who deals with a lot of heavy subject matter, so it’s good that we can have a long leash and do things we couldn’t do on network TV.
DA: So, all in all, what can fans expect from this upcoming series?
GL: You’re persistent. I can’t say anything. You guys trying to get me taken out? [Laughs]
DA: Alrighty, then. Moving from sci-fi and superheroes to drama, you’re also starring in the coming-of-age flick “Hala.” Can you give us a short intro to the movie?
GL: “Hala” is a wonderful film written and directed by Minhal Baig. It premiered at Sundance and will be released in November of AppleTV+. It’s about her experience as a Muslim-American girl coming of age in Chicago. I’m very proud of this film and everyone involved.
DA: The critics seem to love this film. It has an 85 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and scored 75 percent on Metacritic. What do you hope will audiences take away from this film?
GL: I hope the audience learns a little more about the experience of Muslim American women and how that experience doesn’t differ much from their own.
DA: There is—and always has been—a continuous debate about whether mainstream movies should or shouldn’t get political in terms of bringing up subjects like religion, cultural clashes, etc. What’s your take on this?
GL: Cinema should hold a mirror up to life. I don’t believe any topic should be off limits for mainstream films or any other film.
DA: This might be a bit of a clichéd question, but we now live in a world that’s often lacking in compassion. What do you think is something simple that anybody can do to make the world a better place for everybody?
GL: Listen to each other.
DA: Moving on to the lighter side of things, we saw you play the “Terminator” theme on your guitar—Rosey. Can you tell us a bit more about your love for music?
GL: Music is healing for me. I turned to music when I need sit still and ready myself for the next step.
DA: And going back to acting, what do you love most about your job as an actor?
GL: I’m proud to practice a craft that is as old as the spoken word itself. I always take solace in the fact that if this whole world burned down I could still do what I do by the fire light.
DA: Final question: You’ve been a legendary motorcycle racer, a CIA operative, a superhero with a head that’s literally on fire and now a robot sent from the future. What do you want to be next?
GL: All I want is to continue to make the most of my opportunities. When the next character presents itself, whatever it may be, I want to be ready in my mind and body to do that character justice.
PHOTOGRAPHY Mitchell McCormack
STYLING Luca Kingston
GROOMING Andrea Pezzillo for Exclusive Artists using Skyn Iceland and Kevin Murphy
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