In ‘The Horror of Dolores Roach,’ the Empanadas Are to Die For

You know the times when people killed for empanadas? good.

On a cool, sunny morning in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood last month, actress Justina Machado and author Aaron Mark agreed to meet there to talk about Amazon’s new series. “The Fear of Dolores Roach” It’s an eight-part horror comedy that airs Fridays on Prime Video. The show focuses on neighborhoods, and that’s why I took the Uptown train. Same goes for cannibalism, but as far as I know there was nothing like that in the schedule.

But we talked about eating people all day long. First, the empanadas. Holding on to a park bench, Mark and Machado eat guavas, cheese, and carne de guavas at the Empanadas Monumental, near 157th Street and Broadway, around the corner from where Mark lived for ten years. I refueled with a hot, crisp homemade pastry called Resu. He called himself a “broken, broken, broken” playwright.

I drool a little as Machado and Mark nibble on face-sized empanadas. It was a perfect golden color, bubbly in the right places, oozing and not greasy. Machado said it was delicious, but preferred chicken and cheese. pastelilloa fried turnover similar to empanadas that my Puerto Rican mother used to make.

“She made it for me at Café Con Leche,” said Machado, known for roles in the rebooted One Day at a Time and Jane the Virgin. “I can kill four people.”

After eating empanadas, we moved to a nearby cafe, this time eating cinnamon buns and chatting. I immediately got to work on the creepy meat of “Dolores Roach.” Mark, who produced the show, serves as showrunner along with Dara Resnick.Based on his fictional Gimlet Media podcast Although the work of the same name (2018-19), the series itself is an adaptation of his play “Empanada Roca” about a woman. The New York Times called the 2015 Off-Broadway production by the Labyrinth Theater Company a “very spooky” show.

Machado plays Dolores, who returns to gentrified Washington Heights after serving 16 years in prison for rapping her drug dealer boyfriend. Upset by her new surroundings, she tries to start her life over as a masseur in the basement of an empanada parlor run by her old friend Luis (Alejandro Hernández). However, after her body was groped by her first client and she killed him in a sudden rage, she seems unable to stop her murder.

To please an unsuspecting customer, a deranged Luis decides to make empanadas stuffed with shredded corpse parts from his victims, but Dolores wonders how his life has taken such a horrifying course. I wonder if

Mark, a self-professed “Jew from Texas” and a longtime horror fan, began to see the idea of ​​a “modern-day ‘Sweeney Todd, gender-reversed'” in 2013 with actress Daphne Rubin. = Said he developed the idea with Vega. new york. (She plays Dolores in the play and on the podcast, and is also the series’ executive producer.) Mark moved to Los Angeles four years ago, where it didn’t do well as a TV series.

However, the world of theater is small. Mimi O’Donnell, former Artistic Director of Labyrinth, was tapped to head scripted podcasts at Gimlet, and she brought the project to life as her first fictional podcast. (She is now head of scripted fiction at Spotify Studios.) In 2019, Horror producer Blumhouse joined Her Television to help develop it for television.

The show features supporting characters such as Cyndi Lauper, who plays Broadway usher and private investigator, and Marc Maron, who plays the house of empanadas.

However, the series also features two uncredited stars, Empanadas and Washington Heights. According to the show’s food stylist, Mark said, Rossie Earlused her Panamanian roots to choreograph Hernández spreading, stuffing and frying empanadas. She created her own recipe for Dolores’ victims so that each carcass and meat filling would have its own unique flavor.

For Dolores’ first victim, Earle braised pork shoulder and rump in Aquiote oil to give the filling a sticky texture — “greasy and nasty,” Earl said, just like the character. wrote in an email.

Most of the series was shot in Ontario, but some was shot in Washington Heights, including some shots in Mark’s old hunchback on West 156th Street, where Mark said, “What? He recalls spending days listening to the people who lived here for ten years about how gentrification affected them.

“That’s exactly how I ended up with ‘Sweeney Todd,'” he said. “I thought this neighborhood might be cannibalizing.”

(Mark admitted in an email that he himself had been “quite a trespasser uptown.” He said it heightened his sense of urgency to write about what happened.)

Growing up in Chicago, Machado also had personal ties to Washington Heights. In 2009, she made her Broadway debut in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical, In the Heights, set there.

“Something might be calling me to the Heights,” she said.

When our conversation ended and Machado and Marc turned to the doggy bag of empanadas, they were tight-lipped about whether a second season was in production. But the name Roach isn’t Dolores’ surname for no reason. “You can’t kill her,” Mark said.

Is she a cold-blooded monster? Or is she a victim of circumstance? Machado and Mark did not fully agree.

“She’s not a maniac,” Mark said. “She wants to be a good person.”

“She’s a survivor,” Machado offered. “But she’s a sociopath.”

In any case, Machado said it was “liberating” to appear on a show about Latinos without fear of comically evil, eye-popping brutality.

“When we try to tell our story, we feel a responsibility to give it a happy ending because we want to change the story. “I want people to know that,” she said. “But we also love horror.”

Of playing Dolores, she laughs, adding, “I’m a Latino serial killer and I’m proud of it. I really am.”

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