[Interview] Álex de la Iglesia for 30 COINS Season 2

In 30 COINS Season 2, most residents of Pedraza, a remote town in Spain plagued by inexplicable, demonic events, have lost their minds and are confined to a psychiatric hospital. Elena lies comatose in a Madrid hospital bed; Paco, shattered by remorse, tries to take care of her. As the horror intensifies around them, our group of heroes must face a mysterious new enemy (Paul Giamatti) – someone so perverse that even the devil fears him.

After the premiere of Episode 1 of 30 COINS Season 2, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Sarah Musnicky e-chatted with legend and showrunner Álex de la Iglesia. During their conversation, they discussed building out the lore of the show, developing the look and feel of the hell in 30 COINS Season 2, and how the topic of free will plays a hand in this season’s events.

One of my favorite things about your work on 30 COINS is how expansive and rich the lore is. In this season, the lore expands even further, touching into sci-fi territory a bit with discussions of physics, other realms, etc. Can you talk a bit about developing these new layers into the storyline as well as your tips and tricks for keeping everything linked?

Álex de la Iglesia: Good question. The thing is, we have a solid base upon which we’re building up the story. We’re talking and thinking about similar stories that happened fifty years ago, twenty years ago. The connections between things like quantum physics and pigs – strange connections between Daniken and religion. Nobody fully understands paranormal events. We take very seriously the nonsensical things in life. In episode two, Haruka goes to this Quixote-esque chamber to think. They make a reference to [Helena] Blavatsky, who was a philosopher from the 19th century. It was her job to put everything related to paranormal activities together – Atlantis, Lost Continent of Mool, Jesus, Buddha, everything. She made volumes of books talking about these things.

This season opens up the show to the world rather than remaining more insular. This seems like a natural step after last season because this isn’t just an issue impacting a tiny village. It does have overarching worldwide implications. Can you talk a bit about the process of opening up the story even further globally?

Álex de la Iglesia: In terms of production, it was complex. When we began to write, we said we must shoot in Europe, Paris, Jerusalem, and every part of the world to make it feel like the coins are shared all around the world. We know how to do it, though. The idea of Giamatti’s character as a person who travels on yachts is good for the story and good for production. You can begin in New York and end up in London.

Megan Montaner as Elena, Alex de la Iglesia – credit Manolo Pavón HBO – Nightmarish Conjurings

In developing the look and feel of the hell we see this season, what was your approach to tackling the visuals of hell? Cause the audience has their own perception of this concept, yet it still feels fresh.

Álex de la Iglesia: Everybody had in mind that hell is like the Ed Gein house, for example. But that isn’t a global hell, that’s a particular hell. So we said, let’s make it like the Ed Gein house but in a big palace. That was the beginning. Then we said, okay, but this isn’t like hell. Hell is more like Dante’s Inferno, so we need rivers of lava and we need ruins of strange civilizations destroyed by demons. So we did all of that in one place. People would think it’s impossible to combine all of them because the character is moving around hell, but in this case, he’s in a building. The moment he goes to the balcony, he sees the full scope of hell.

There are so many scenes in this series that feel difficult to shoot in a variety of ways. In this season, what was the most difficult or memorable for you to shoot based on the challenges presented?

Álex de la Iglesia: The eighth episode. There is a sequence that we thought would be impossible. In the end, we got it. We’re very proud of pulling it off.

The concept of free will is a reoccurring topic, especially regarding the Padre who seems damned on arrival. As a topic of ever-present debate, how does playing around with this philosophical argument open up new creative avenues for you in approaching the show? I can see both the pros and cons in limitations, so was just curious.

Álex de la Iglesia: That’s the difference between this show and other mainstream horror. I think the difference is in how we approach the characters… We studied philosophy in university, so we love the concept of the fight between good and evil, and the idea that bad guys aren’t bad. They are simply people doing their jobs. Everybody has a role in heaven’s drama. Most of the people think that they’re on the good side, but that’s not true.

This is a joke question, but it is a way to wrap up our chat. I have to ask…what did spiders do to you? The arachnids keep coming back and you’re like the first person that’s actively made me afraid of them.

Álex de la Iglesia: They’re the bug I fear most.

My newly installed desire to protect Álex from all manner of arachnids aside, for fans of religious horror, conspiracy, and more, you can catch 30 COINS Season 2 over at MAX, with new episodes premiering on Mondays. The first episode is available now for streaming.

Sarah Musnicky
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