We confirmed just last month that Gabriel Luna (True Detective, Matador) would be playing Robbie Reyes, a.k.a. Ghost Rider, on ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when the superhero show returns this fall. Next month, we’ll get to see Luna in action as the relatively new character when he joins the cast and crew for the “biggest, most ambitious story yet” that will introduce the Spirit of Vengeance. But right now, Luna himself is talking about getting a chance to play this role.
In a chat with THR, Luna talked up his character, the latest iteration of the Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes. He’ll be the first to bring the superhero to life in a live-action series, and since there’s relatively little pre-existing story material out there, Luna has the opportunity to make his mark as the character. And that’s something he’s really revved up about.
“A lot of the show is going to be expanding the Ghost Rider canon. That’s really cool. It’s all me. It’s all on me.”
Luna, like many fans of Ghost Rider, knew about Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch (no love for Carter Slade, a.k.a. the Phantom Rider, apparently), but had to dig into the new take on the character:
“I in fact did not know that the Ghost Rider spirit of vengeance was now inhabiting Robbie Reyes now. When [Marvel TV head] Jeph [Loeb] and [Agents of SHIELD executive producers] Jed [Whedon] and Mo [Tancharoen] finally cracked the lid on what I’d be playing, I was shocked because when they called me they were very secretive as to what it was. When I finally found out what it was, I did my research and I looked into it, and that’s when I discovered that there was this new incarnation of Ghost Rider.”
Luna has a pretty fantastic story about going to his local comic book store in Hollywood to snap up everything he could on Reyes, the version introduced back in early 2014:
“I had just found out I got the job from Jeph a day before. It was great because the owner of the shop, he was calling from the aisles, ‘Did you hear that stuff that’s coming out of San Diego? There’s like a chain that’s got anAgents of SHIELD wrap on it with a flaming chain and everyone is speculating that it’s going to be Ghost Rider.’ … I can’t wait to go back and tell him. I’m going to make some time to do that.”
Other than the lure of being the first actor to bring a comic book character to life, Luna found a kindred spirit in the Spirit of Vengeance and the character’s human side:
“His little brother’s name is Gabe. I have a little brother who I care for, and I did this show Matador where I also had a little brother, and the show came from Robert Rodriguez, who has the same name as Robbie and the same initials as Robbie. And when he came to direct our pilot and finale of Matador, he drove around in a black Dodge Charger. There are all these weird synchronicities that you can’t ignore. I don’t find it daunting as of now because I truly believe this was all meant to work out. I’m excited to bring him to life for the first time.”
Clearly, Luna is excited to bring his interpretation to the screen for audiences and fans around the world:
“We have the first episode in the can. What I’m really excited about is that the Robbie I had in my mind, he’s there. It’s not just his name or his body. His personality is all there. And it’s still the Ghost Rider. The Ghost Rider is a completely separate thing from Robbie. It’s something that always inhabits his body and something that he always has to fight. It’s an evil thing. That’s what they have maintained in the writing. It’s going to be a really solid interpretation of Ghost Rider. But as for his family, we’re going to have to wait and see if they show up.
A lot of what happens in the books is that Robbie has this internal conflict with the spirit of vengeance. It’s a really strong story. I’m excited to get to show how he’s able to exist with this Spirit of Vengeance and not only harness it but own it. That’s always been central to the Ghost Rider story. Sometimes the Rider totally takes over and that’s a terrifying process. It’s always this push and pull between the two characters.”
And if you thought Luna would be swapping out between playing Reyes and the fired-up Ghost Rider, think again:
“The flaming head? Yeah, that’s me. I am playing that. We have this great VFX for it, and I saw the mockup the other day and I thought it was completely finished. I was like, ‘Just throw that up on my TV.’ It’s a combination of CG and also some marking on my face so I can do some expressions.”
Be sure to check out Luna and the rest of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Tuesday, September 20th at 10pm on ABC.