Los Espookys’s Ana Fabrega Is In On the Joke

The comedian talks the HBO show’s long-awaited second season, stepping in as a director, and casting Kim Petras in her acting debut.

A portrait of Ana Fabrega wearing a green knit shortsleeve sweater
Photographer is Mitch Zachary

The scariest thing about the HBO runaway hit series Los Espookys was the two-year wait fans had to endure in between the first and second seasons. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 derailed filming in Chile, but the show runner, writer, and star, Ana Fabrega (along with fellow show runner and writer Julio Torres), made sure to wrap things up in time for Los Espookys to return with its much-heralded follow-up on Sept. 16. “I’m so happy,” Fabrega tells W over Zoom. “It’s such a relief. There was a period of time where we felt like, ‘Oh man, what if this never sees the light of day?’ Finally, it’s done.”

In Los Espookys, a group of friends are paid to stage strange horror scenarios embodying every meaning of the word “queer.” Fabrega plays the endearingly absurd character Tati, who gives new meaning to the phrase “odd jobs.” In her real life, there’s nothing odd about the multiple positions Fabrega has taken on to bring the charming, supernatural series to life. In the second season, she added director to her existing titles. At the same time, Fabrega broke into the movies in this year's Latinx remake of Father of the Bride and she's now developing a new animated series, AZ Arizona, with Adult Swim. It’s all a notable jump from the stand-up comedy she started doing just a few years ago.

Fabrega is working to accomplish all these milestones while openly queer—an aspect of herself that is seamlessly reflected in the characters and narrative arc of Los Espookys. Below, Fabrega discusses the major impact her show has imparted upon Hollywood, and what’s next in her career.

Ana Fabrega and Cassandra Ciangherotti in Los Espookys.

Courtesy of HBO

On many streaming platforms, we’re still seeing shows in Spanish that focus on drugs and crime. How did you feel bringing to life a show like Los Espookys, which is quite surreal and imaginative, starring Latinx actors?

There was no agenda to make the show Hispanic or make it queer, or do anything like that. It happened to be a show that was going to be in Spanish because at the time, [series creator] Fred [Armisen] had initially gone to Mexico City and met this Goth guy that did makeup, and he was fascinated by him. He was like, I want to make a show about people that involves horror prosthetics and special effects. We started with that, and it became what it turned into. We’re not trying to sell any message—we happen to be Hispanic, and we made this thing, but it's not about showing what it's like to be Hispanic or show people what it’s like to be queer.

As a gay viewer, I do appreciate representation and the queer feel of the show.

Julio and I are queer, so we’re going to write things that are queer. But not because we’re trying to. I didn't try to dress queer today. I just get dressed. [Laughs]. And a bunch of our friends are queer and they're in the show as well. I'm really grateful that HBO didn't try to make us check boxes in any way. They just said, make the show you want to make.

You directed the last two episodes of the season. What was that experience like?

It was good, and it was a lot. I didn’t anticipate what it would be like when you need to be in front of the camera and behind the camera at the same time. There were days when I was acting and directing where I felt like, “Gosh, I wish I was only doing one of these today.” But I enjoyed the process. That also felt like a natural next step for my role in the show, because I'm so involved in all of it. I wouldn’t have done it if it was any other show. But it also made me realize that I want to direct more.

Tati appears to be even more of an absurd character this season. How much fun did you have writing about and playing her this season?

It’s really fun to play a character that I can use as a vehicle for jokes, and Tati is a character where, truly, anything goes. Any silly idea I have, I can find a way in for Tati. There are certain jokes I was doing in my standup where I was like, I want to put that into Tati. I had a joke that I would transcribe audiobooks. I was like, “What if Tati did that—and it was a hit?” But knowing Tati, she probably wouldn’t realize how long it would take to listen to a whole book. She would just listen to some of it and make up the rest.

Anan Fabrega as Tati on Los Espookys.

Courtesy of HBO

This season, we're also getting to know each member of the group on an individual level, their dreams and aspirations, outside of the group.

That came naturally from having one season done and getting to know the characters better through that process of filming. Because Julio and I wrote our characters for ourselves, I think we knew them really well, but Renaldo and Úrsula were not as clearly defined. When we shot the first season and got to meet Bernardo and Cassandra, who play those characters, it helped them form our views of the characters. So when we came back to write season two, it felt like, now we know who everybody is, and we can write better stories for all of them and follow their emotional lives more than we could in season one.

Oscar nominee Yalitza Aparicio appears as Luna this season. How would you describe her personality on set?

She's so perfect for that part: captivating, sweet, and kind. She was such a great sport, and also someone that we had booked pre-pandemic. When we realized now we're going to go back to shoot, we thought, "Gosh! What if Yalitza's not available anymore or maybe she doesn't want to do it?” But she did.

Fred Armisen, Ana Fabrega, and Julio Torres.

Courtesy of HBO

And Kim Petras appears as a guest star this season as well. What was the experience like to work with her?

Julio and I are big fans of hers. I love her music. When I listened to Turn Off the Light, I was like, we've got to get her involved in this show. It just feels like such a natural fit. When we started writing a character to be the boss of the ambassador, it was like, “Well, duh! It’s Kim Petras!” Who else would it be? She hadn’t acted before and she was such a pro and so prepared; she knew her lines well and was down to do more takes.