Movies & TV / Columns

Ultra Violet & Blue Demon Executive Producers Dan Carrillo Levy and Eugenio Villamar on Making a Show About Lucha Libre

February 5, 2021 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Ultra Violet & Blue Demon Jr

Earlier this week, the Disney Channel announced that Mexican wrestling legend Blue Demon Jr. will star in the upcoming, recently greenlit series Ultra Violet & Blue Demon. Playing an alternate version of himself, Blue Demon stars in the show opposite Scarlett Estevez, the titular Ultra Violet. In the upcoming show, a magical luchador mask selects 13-year-old Violet to become a new superhero named Ultra and successor to her uncle, Blue Demon Jr., who also happens to be a superhero-in-disguise.

The show was conceived and pitched to Disney by Moxie 88’s Dan Carrillo Levy and Eugenio Villamar, who serve as co-executive producers for the show, along with Blue Demon Jr. himself. 411mania recently had the chance to sit down and speak with Levy and Villamar on creating the project, working with the legendary icon Blue Demon, and bringing a show about Lucha Libre to life for people all across the globe. Here’s what they had to say:

Pictured: Eugenio Villamar (L), Blue Demon Jr. (C) and Dan Carrillo Levy (R).

Jeffrey Harris: What was the process like getting this series put together, developed and sold to Disney Channel?

Dan Carrillo Levy: It’s a long process that Eugenio and I started years ago. It really took a long, long time. It all started with a friendship that I developed with Blue Demon for over 16 years and the desire to make something together. Six years ago, when Eugenio and I created Moxie 88, that was one the first projects we discussed of how to bring to the new world. As you may know, Blue Demon’s father used to be in several movies back in the 60s and 70s, and there was a whole genre of films. We wanted to take that into the new world. So we worked for six years in different ideas, different projects because this is only one project from a whole [licensing company], also content company because we developed the project itself, not only licenses. So, one of the ideas that Eugenio and I had was, how do we create new fans? How do we reach new generations? And the idea of creating a show for kids was a big, big thing for us. So, we came up with an idea of a girl inheriting the mask, and we started pitching around. Our dream was obviously to have someone like Disney, and we went to Disney. We brought in Blue Demon. It was a crazy experience because as you may know, he doesn’t take the mask off. He’s a personality all the time, and we pitched. They liked it, and we spent three years in development with them until we finally got the pilot shot last year. We were shooting before COVID but we got stopped because of the pandemic. We retook the shooting of the pilot in September, and two weeks ago, we finally got the green light for the season.

Eugenio Villamar: And adding to this, I gotta say, it was not an easy process. When we started, we were deciding what road to take, and it was not an easy one because — I mean, I can give examples. We went from a TV series project, a cartoon project, comic book. We were trying to see what was up with the character because Dan said, “Blue Demon is like a Batman,” if you will, for the Latin American community. He’s been ingrained in our social and cultural background, so Blue Demon for us was that. We needed to respect that aspect of the character, respecting also the legacy of the mask. The legacy of the mask is the most important thing for him. He never takes it off. He’s one of the only persons that follows the dogma. He doesn’t take the mask off in public, so no one really knows his identity and his face. So, he is a mystery man already. He’s a superhero in real life, and for us, that is very special. It is something we wanted to tap into, and we went through many iterations of the product.

When we went to Disney, like Dan was saying, we discovered also that there was a market for children, but specifically, the target audience for Disney is girls. So, we had this idea of a niece or something in the world of superheroes, reviving the genre. But it was not the first idea we came up with. It was a process of years and years of work. The success comes with years of background, of all of this.

Jeffrey Harris: For Dan, with your longstanding friendship with Blue Demon, did you always know you wanted to do a story or show around him?

Dan Carrillo Levy: Oh yeah. I’ve been obsessed with Blue Demon since before we even became friends. As Mexicans, when you grow up, the mask is ingrained in your brain. You see it everywhere, and you know what it means. And I met him actually on the set of one of my movies. He did a small cameo, and I didn’t know how it worked about him not revealing his identity and all that. So that became like — I started following him and trying to figure out if I could get like a glimpse of his face. And I understand that he has all this protocol, and he just drove me nuts. And I went home, and I wrote a short story about what I would want to make a movie with him. And I pitched it to him, and he loved it. And we started working on that. And then, that got shelved for a few years, and we retook it with Eugenio. But it’s just a character and a secret identity, and the way he lives his life. Also, when you meet Blue Demon Jr., his persona, he’s such a good person. He cares about so many things. He is truly a decent human being that it’s just like a magnet. It draws you in, and you’re like, “I want everyone to get to know this.” And the tradition, and his knowledge about not only Lucha Libre wrestling, but Latino/Mexican culture, Hispanic culture and all these things that embody his persona.

Jeffrey Harris: Lucha Libre wrestling has a whole tradition and history that goes back decades. How does it feel to have a show built around the tradition and heroes of Lucha Libre and giving it to the masses at large on the main Disney channel?

Eugenio Villamar: What I can say on that is that Moxie 88 is formed by Mexicans. We are Mexicans. Were trained in the United States, and we understand the culture. And not only that, we have a responsibility. The mask and Blue Demon is one of the biggest icons in the Mexican culture and Latin America itself. And it’s a high responsibility, what you’re saying with all this legacy, of years or decades of Lucha Libre. It’s true. This character started appearing in the 50s, so we’re carrying on our shoulders the responsibility of making it right. And for us, that’s something we’ve been preaching for many, many, many years, to bring the Latino culture to the fore. And that’s why it’s very important for us to bring Blue Demon. For us, mixing Disney and Blue Demon is the correct mix because we want to be able to bring the character to new people, to new communities. We’ve discovered in the process, by the way, that Americans, or certain communities, do not know who Blue Demon is, and that’s a market we’re going to start to extend for the brand and the character. So, we want to make it right. We want to make justice to the history and legacy of the character.

Blue Demon Jr.

Jeffrey Harris: Is there any world building in the show that references El Santo?

Eugenio Villmar: I’m going to answer like Blue [Demon] would answer. Who? You know what? We cannot deny that there’s a story and a history of characters. They evolved from the same vein if you will, but yeah, Blue Demon is always like, “Who?” You know?

Jeffrey Harris: And within the world of the show, will Blue Demon be a professional wrestler, and will wrestling be an aspect within the series?

Eugenio Villamar: If I can describe the premise, the premise is based — everything moves around Violet, who is a 13-year-old girl who finds a magical superhero mask that gives her superheroes, but she also discovers that her uncle, who is Blue Demon Jr. playing himself, is also a superhero with superpowers. And he’s going to teach her like a Batman and Robin situation to fight crime at night while she’s dealing with all the high school dilemma and problems and coming-of-age situations that go on there. So yes, there’s a combination because the superhero character of Blue Demon is at the front a Lucha Libre character as you know him, but at night, he’s a superhero. So, it’s a mix of the two.

Jeffrey Harris: I’ve always felt there is so much untapped potential within Lucha Libre as an artform. In the 1990s, WCW started bringing in and showcasing Luchador wrestlers, and now Rey Mysterio is one of the biggest stars in the world. What do you think of the potential of Lucha Libre?

Dan Carrillo Levy: Without a doubt, wrestling and Lucha Libre are one of the oldest forms of entertainment. There is definitely a reason right now why a few of the biggest stars in the world are wrestlers that became then actors and did all these things. Lucha Libre wrestling not only a lot charisma, a lot of storytelling, but also an incredible amount of physical performance and sportsmanship. So, it is a combination of so many things that it is an untapped market that can provide a new world and new things. There are so many important lessons that even wrestling and lucha provide. Alone, and it’s always a good way to keep yourself healthy but also mentally. And I think that we really want to create this opportunity for entertainment for younger audiences to understand, to be in love with this world without separating from the type of content that they like right now.

You know, superheroes is what all the crazy is about, and to Latinos, Blue Demon, El Santo and all of them are the original superheroes. Before we had the Justice League movies, before we had all the Marvel Universe, we had those Luchador movies. So, I think it’s bridging those world, bridging generations and tapping into something that will always be one of the biggest forms of entertainment and providing a lot enjoyment to everyone that watches those shows. It was a very difficult task also to create that bridge between those two worlds and also in generations and cultures.

Eugenio Villamar: Also to give you a little bit of a golden nugget, since it’s a wrestling medium that you like, going into the nerdy side of wrestling, we discovered — we have a wrestling scene of course in the pilot. We show wrestling as it is in a ring on the show. But when we were planning the shots and all that stuff, everyone that was involved learned a little bit of lucha because Lucha Libre, as a Mexican style, is very different from WWE. It’s completely radical. So, what we learned from Blue Demon is that he follows a very old-school, if you will, of wrestling. It’s a very specific style that goes very different from the very quick and very big size luchadores. They’re very technical. We learned a lot of things from Blue Demon on how to follow the wrestling. You do an attack, and you have a counter. You have an attack, and you have a counter. So that’s the nerdy and the technical side that when you shoot it in a cinematic way, you have to know what’s up. You have to know how to build your scene, and we learned a lot. It was crazy how we learned a lot of lucha.

Jeffrey Harris: Did Blue Demon do all of his own stunts?

Dan Carrillo Levy: Yeah. Not only he did all of his own stunts, but in order to preserve the authenticity, I’m not going to say because I don’t want to ruin it, but even in the first episode, there’s a famous wrestler who fights Blue. So, we’re bringing wrestlers and luchadores and cameos too and all that. But because a stuntman, he could probably do some of the movements, but it’s not the same language when you’re in the ring. So, we really wanted to keep it authentic to bring a real wrestler to fight Blue in the episode, and I think it just gives a lot of authenticity that not only fans will love but fans will fall in love with what wrestling is.

It was fun because when we started planning the scenes, this wrestler came in and everyone in production was like, “What about the choreography?!” The stunt coordinator was freaking out about the choreography, and Blue was like, “We speak the same language. Don’t worry. The moment we step into the ring, we’ll figure it out.” Everyone was so interested to see what they meant, and the moment they got into the ring, they started wrestling, and it was like, “Wow!” Immediately, they knew what they were doing. It’s their world. Blue has been doing it for so many years, and he’s so good at it, that it was just like seeing them in their natural environment just having fun rehearsing, it was one of the best experiences in the show so far.

Jeffrey Harris: Could other professional wrestlers, such as The Lucha Bros. (Rey Fenix & Penta El Zero), potentially appear in the show as characters?

Eugenio Villamar: Like Dan was saying, we’re always looking for opportunities for cameos. So, a lot of the cameos were vetted by Blue Demon. Actually, the one we had on the pilot was vetted by Blue Demon. So, we always go with that. The reason is that we need to match styles and also the cinematic way of shooting it. So yes, of course, there will be opportunities to bring Luchadores, like the bold names you’re bringing up, and it will go episode by episode. So yes, there’s opportunity for that.

Jeffrey Harris: Would you be open to a crossover with WWE if it was someone on the level of Rey Mysterio? Or do you want to keep it more strictly to that Lucha Libre tradition and style?

Dan Carrillo Levy: No, we’re open to that. We actually, for other projects, we’ve met with WWE, and we love what they do. It’s also — we also produce with Disney, so we follow their lead. Hopefully, the show lasts long enough for us to bring in all these crazy ideas that we have and go season by season. So, the more fans respond to it, the more we’ll be able to do. So obviously, I cannot say, we want to do it right now? Of course, we want to. We have all crazy ideas — every day we think about new ideas. Only the fans will tell how far we can take it and for how long.

Jeffrey Harris: What was it like finding Scarlett Estevez to play Violet for this great coming of age story?

Dan Carrillo Levy: Scarlett was — that was the most important thing. Finding the right girl to play Ultra. We had a great casting director that we brought in. She’s amazing. She’s done all the big shows, Narcos and stuff like that. And she into a really deep dive to get the right girl.

Eugenio Villamar: The cool thing about Scarlett is that Scarlett as an actress, at least we were very impressed the first time saw her because she has mad experience on shooting and filming, and it’s impressive how you see the high level of acting of that girl. It’s like you’re seeing an adult in a children’s body. It’s just impressive what the girl can do. She has spunk, charisma, and that’s the qualities that we saw in her. And it was funny that we even said, “Hey. Let’s bring the mask to see how she looks in the mask,” and you can see the evolution the character has gone through. And it was very impressive to see Scarlett go through that process. It was not an easy process. It took several months that we brought more girls and more girls, trying to find someone who was better than her, and we couldn’t find her. We couldn’t find someone better than Scarlett, and at the end of the day, Scarlett was just the perfect fit. Once we saw them together, we did a chemistry read with Blue Demon and Scarlett, and it was just like magic. It’s just chemistry.

Scarlett Estevez as the superhero Ultra, aka Violet.

Jeffrey Harris: As the old saying goes, a hero is only as good as his/her villain, so do you want to give us any hints at the villains Ultra and Blue Demon will encounter in the show?

Dan Carrillo Levy: There will be tons of villains. Obviously, there’s always a main villain. The only thing I can say is it’s going to make wrestling fans very, very happy. And we have a very cool setup story and all that. And they also fight crime. They’re superheroes, but it’s a very canvas that the mask and the powers of both masks allow us to play with.

Jeffrey Harris: Was there anything else you wanted to achieve that maybe hasn’t been achieved with past film or TV versions involving Lucha Libre?

Dan Carrillo Levy: We have a very cool movie. Besides this, we have a Luchador movie idea that is just crazy, and we hope that one day we can do it. It doesn’t involve Blue Demon, but it’s crazy fun.

Thanks to Dan Carrillo Levy and Eugenio Villamar of Moxie 88 for taking the time to speak with us. Ultra Violet & Blue Demon has received a full season order from The Disney Channel, and it’s currently in the works for release later on.