Moderator Clark Collins
Jami O’Brien, showrunner and executive producer
Joe Hill producer
The season begins eight years after season one and Vic is determined to destroy Charlie. He sets his sights on a person who means the most – Wayne. Currently on AMC and BBC.
First season is relatively faithful to the book, second two?
Joe: I think the second season is faithful to the book to the spirit of the book and the characters. I do think that with I think every single episode the show has become more itself. It has been more comfortable in its own skin and found its own particular approach, style and tone. I think nothing shows that like the intricately engineered fifth episode which is almost kind of a horror movie. I love the second season and I think in some ways the second season it more exciting and more emotional involving than the first. And, it does do some different things but all those keep in the spirit of the novel. I think it is important that its not just that it has ideas, that it explores its own ideas and that it takes a few unexpected turns because you don’t want people who have read the book to be too comfortable and know what is happening all the time. I’m very happy with how the television show has expanded on and developed the mythology and the underlying concepts of the book.
Manx has become more terrifying and we learn his backstory.
Zachary: I think that’s one of the things that season two does is give much more context, particular for Charlie. It flushes out the journey he’s been on that led him to this place. IN addition to the novel, Joe also wrote a graphic novel called The Wraith which is more centered around the relationship with his car, daughter and wife and that’s something we incorporated into season two which I’m grateful for. We go back into Charlie’s life into his childhood to understand some of the traumas and the abuses and abandonments he’s struggled with over the years. The accumulative weight which breaks him and paints him in a more sympathetic light which is always good when you are playing such a reprehensible and morally bankrupt character like Charlie Manx. You understand that he didn’t start out that way and he had some unfortunate circumstances that befell him over the years that led him to this place. I did enjoy that stuff. It was fun to immerse part of the narrative into these different time periods and be able to explore some of those other relationships and the long term impacts that they have.
There are new adults in season 2.
Joe: In the first season we visited Parnassus which is a nightclub of nightmares. It’s a place where nightmares hang out together and swap horror stories over a pint. That interests me. The world of Charlie and Vic have other people in it and I was curious to get into that. We have a character called Hourglass who is somewhat of a Charlie Manx fan-boy and excited to do some business with him. So we brought him into the story and he added an interesting wrinkle to what was there in the original novel.
Jami: In addition to the Hourglass who is the new villain who joins Team Manx but there is also Lou who met at the end of last season. We spend a lot more time with him this season as a series regular on the show and I think a fantastic character. He is a favorite from the book, he was one of my favorites from the book and think Jonathan does such a beautiful job playing him. He is just a good hearted, hard working Dad and he loves Vic and loves Wayne. He doesn’t have a superpower but Joe Hill told me once that his superpower is his humor and his calm. I think you really see that come out in the first few episodes. I mean in Episode 3 Charlie Manx almost gets Wayne and in the writers room the way we talked about it was the only reason why he doesn’t is because Lou is a good Dad. Lou realizes something is going on and his action is what thwarts Manx from stealing Wayne. That not a magical bridge, that’s just him and the forces of goodness within him.
He seems at home with the supernatural.
Jamie: Its tough because you can burn storytelling time. The audience so knows so those conversations are tough. Last season there was a line in an episode where Lou says to Vic after they have their encounter with Manx and they are in the hospital where he says, ‘listen, I read comic books, I know there is a lot of stuff out there’. I think that is such a great way to sum up that character and kind of move past the ‘so what now? You have a what?’
Joe: That’s my favorite line from the first season.
The relationship between Zachary and young star Mattea.
Zachary: The kids on the show are pretty spectacular, they are so professional and prepared and very funny. They are funny miniature adults. They have a precociousness fostered by working in this environment. Jason and Mattea have been at this for a while, they are old pros. It was cool, to have that psychological component to the character and figure out how to communicate in a way to make sure they are save and protected. That is really important so it was a cool addition to work with those guys more in Season 2 than the first.
How did you cast them?
Jami: They auditioned, Mattea send in an audition and Jason did in season two. They are both spectacular and you can see it on the show Zach was part of the casting process with Jason. Mattea, I think the kid is a star. Jason, you can see him becoming more and more comfortable as it went on and he ended up directing scenes. There is a scene later in the season and I won’t say with who because I don’t want to give anything away but it is with one of the adult actors who had a question and Jason was like ‘listen, you are mad at me because of this and we are going over here…’ and it was really charming.
Joe: One of the things that I think is really interesting is that Vic has a lot of unresolved feelings about her own mother and you can feel her discomfort and her struggling to figure out ‘how do I do this’. She is always questioning herself, ‘am I doing this well’ and you know she feels awkward. She would rather fight vampires than be a Mom. That she knows how to do, what the worse that can happen? The worse that can happen is she dies! What I think is interesting of course is the Charlie is totally confident around kids and kids love him. How can they not, he is the President of fun.
Working relationship with Ashleigh.
Zachary: I just love her, she is so deeply committed to her relationship with her character and everyone else on the show. She has got a really generous spirit and she is really concerned with the well being of others and she is so enormously talented. You know this is her first big American television show and I think this is a significant moment for her. So its been really interesting for me who has been at it for a while to witness that and find ways that I can support that for her. It’s been a real pleasure along the way and the pleasure was enhanced midway through the season when she showed up on the set with the absolutely cutest dog I have ever seen. She adopted a dog named Elton and my dog Skunk and Elton would have play festivals in our trailer when we were on set for long hours so that was really lovely as well. Ashleigh is just great and it has been an absolute pleasure working with and getting to know her. I’m also sorry she isn’t with us today but she’s pretty phenomenal.
Clutch of female characters.
Jami: You know they are all, with all of them we take our cues from the novel. The reason why I wanted to adapt the book is because I fell in love with Vic McQueen. I think that what is interesting about her and Ashleigh talks about this a lot is that it’s not a lot of necessarily a physical strength with Vic. She doesn’t work out all the time, she’s not a strongman and lifts stuff all the time but she has more courage than certainly than I do, almost more than anyone. Again there is a part in the book where I was like ‘I love this kid and I’m in’ was the first time she went to Sleigh House when she is after Charlie Manx and she finds a stranger stuck in the back of The Wraith that she has never met before and without thinking twice she just goes after this kid to try and save him which is what gets her into trouble with Manx and why she ends up caught in the laundry shoot which we dramatized in season one. I think that that heart and that courage was the thing that I found so refreshing about the character. Maggie as well, Maggie in the book is super smart, her strength is her ability to solve puzzles. She is a librarian, she is in the know and I would say her curiosity and her super powered brain are her strengths. You know the same with Tabitha, in the novel Tabitha comes in kind of later than she does in the book and she is a slightly different character, she is still I think fundamentally an investigator. She is still a person that is fundamental curious about the world who has an ingrained sense of justice and who cares about the people she works with. Those are our three main adult characters and again we just went with the book. Millie is not in the novel, actually she is in the novel a little bit at the end but she doesn’t have as big a role in the novel as she does in the series. She’s also in The Wraith so we see some of her backstory. In the series some of it was being fascinated by her and the source material and kind of flush her out a little bit but also she is a fantastic actor. When we saw her in season one we were like ‘what else can we do with her? Her scenes with Zach are so great’. So we decided to open her up as well and that character, you know its funny because she is in Christmasland and her soul is drained so where can you go with this character really so we thought ‘maybe when Manx dies, that opens up a tiny little place inside Millie where she has room to think beyond Christmasland for just a moment. When she does she takes advantage of it and of course in Episode 3 she meets the ghost of her mother and that kind of keeps opening, and opening and opening. She is starting to struggle with who she is and where she sits on the pole of with Mom and Dad. She’s been a Daddy’s girl her whole life and I think she’s starting to question whether or not it was the best choice.
Joe: In a way for me the second season is a way about growing up and about whether or not you can even accept growing up. I was thinking earlier while Jami was talking that in some weird way that season 2 is what would happen to Buffy the Vampire Slayer if she didn’t have to stay in high school for eight seasons. What if she actually had to graduate and go on and be a young woman and what would her life be like. Then I was thinking about Millie and I was thinking its also about you can’t stay a child forever. What does happen when you start to move away from childhood.
Your Henchman Darri who is always teasing and taunting.
Zachary: Darri is one of my favorite people that I’ve worked with in a long time. I absolutely love him and he’s so talented and so incredibly nice and smart. I really love him. On our Christmas break I actually had an amazing trip to Iceland for twelve days and got to spend time with his family there. He was so welcoming and it was a magical place. It was incredible and I’m so grateful that the show introduced me to Darri and I got to travel there and I can’t wait to go back when we are allowed to travel again. I think the dynamic between the characters is rich and fun in season two, Manx is incredibly manipulative and he’s use to cycling through these rather either over ambitious or dimwitted and in some cases both kinds of assistants or henchmen. Bing proves to be more than meets the eye in season 2. At a certain point he gets mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore and we get to see the results of that which I think was really fun and the coolest things from this season and what we got to do together and how the narrative got flipped on its ear at a certain point along the way. I felt really happy to have him in this world with us.
Was there one plotline you were particularly happy about?
Zachary: For me it was Episode 5 when we got the script written by Tom Brady, I remember the sequence in the book and it was one of my favorites in the book so I was curious as to how it would play out in the show. When I got the script I thought it was going to be a nightmare. The structure of it and the points of view of it. There is a lot of it that keeps changing and shifting and I thought that this was going to be impossible to shoot. How is this going to happen but I can tell you its going to be miserable. It was actually the most fun episode of the season for me. I was watching it all come together and watching the director calculating everything she needed to capture. It blew me away with every one working together. I don’t think that there was any experience in the two seasons that exemplified it more than this episode. It was all hands on deck.
Joe: Its just a masterful piece of storytelling. Tom Brady wrote such a great script and beautifully directed and its great when a show gets to have a moment like that where you feel like you are seeing something you haven’t seen before.
Jami: It is an iconic moment in the book when Wayne gets taken and I remember when I read it that ‘oh Vic gets to spend some time underwater here’. How are we going to do that? For season two when I was talking to our production designer, I asked ‘can we even do this’ and was told yea we can do it. I wasn’t on set when they shot the episode and when the director’s cut came in I watched in in awe. I read it in the book and I thought we really have to honor this and when I read Tom Brady’s script I thought how the hell are they going to do this and then I kept waiting for the phone call from Rhode Island what said ‘Jami we can’t do this scene so lets cut it’ and that phone call never came. I think they did a phenomenal job and I’m echoing Zach that it’s really a testament to our team and I’m really proud of it. I also want to say I love the Manx backstory talking about the fun of the season.
Joe: I have a favorite but I can’t talk about it because it would be spoilers. There is something that happens in 9 and 10 that I’ve wanted to see since I knew we were making a television show. I just remember and I want to add that when I read episode 5 and saw that Ashleigh was going to be spending time in the water, I remember talking to Jami and I said that’s pretty cool that she’s in the water for half the episode. She said they would be shooting in Rhode Island in late October and I said ‘oh’.
Jami: It was an indoor pool.
Joe: There you go.
Getting Tom Savini, prosthetic make up effects artist and actor.
Jamie: Joe! That was a character Joe pitched and we wrote it into the script and Joe said ‘I love him, he’s the best character in the script and I think Tom Seveni should play him’ and I said I said that would be great, do you want to ask Tom Seveni if he’ll do it. He did and – he did. So that was Joe Hill.
A King-Hill family friend>
Joe: I love Tom. So when I was a kid I had a stint as a child actor and was the kid in CREEPSHOW which was shot in 1982 which was a different era. They didn’t have the same kinds of rules about child labor on television and film sets. So they didn’t have a babysitter or a nanny or anyone to watch me when I wasn’t acting and they asked Tom Seveni to look after me. So I spent a whole week in Tom Seveni’s trailer watching him artistically disfigure movie stars and create amazing monsters. He was like my first rock star, he had this black leather jacket and these Spock on Star Trek eyebrows and he wore motorcycle boots and I don’t think he knew how to talk to kids so he just talk to me like I was an adult. On lunchbreak we would look at his great big book of autopsy photos and I just loved him. I was so glad decades later we were able to renew our friendship, he is a terrific filmmaker ad such a gifted comic actor and has done bits and bobs in a Tarentino movie. He really is just exciting to watch on the screen. He does a lot of hand acting and of course he is the master of gross out of special effects from DAWN OF THE DEAD and FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH, he is one of my heroes so it was really great to pull him in.
Zachary: Yes, it was good to have him, I think we were all excited. I know Joe Harlow who is our make up special affects leader was especially excited to have him. It’s always fun to watch that world, its such a close knit world and in so many ways, people align themselves in so many ways from the leaders in the field so I think Joe was inspired by Tom’s work and with me being from Pittsburgh I have a long history with Tom so I was really grateful to get to meet him. He was only there for a day sadly so it wasn’t a deep interaction but the main feeling was that I wished we could have been able to hang out longer but it was great to have him there.
Jami: Zach, was there anything in a script that you were shocked by and made you think I can’t believe they did this?
Zachary: Episode 7 for me was something that I loved when I read it and the structure and the present day Manx story line as it relates to the flashback Manx storyline. I wasn’t shocked by it and the way we were able to shoot it was a little bit like a movie. Jami, you had just come back from L.A. I really enjoyed that part of the process and also what I got to do with Darri in that episode, I wasn’t shocked but grateful for the structure and challenge of it.
Jami: I thought of it as a little play and an opportunity to watch you and Darri and I’m excited for people to see it.
Where is the prosthetic gross Zachary.
Joe: Its on your front door.
Jami: It’s in Joe Harlow’s warehouse for all I know.
Can you tease?
Joe: As bad as things seem they can always get worse.
Jami: Your going to see some unexpected action from Bing. He is great in the first half of the season and you see him get a little more work to do in the second.
Zachary: I feel like the Bing stuff is some of my favorite that we have to look forward to. We are building to an ultimate showdown of sorts. I think we have been playing a lot in the track to this moment. The last half of the season is going to ramp up and drive us into the conflict between Vic and Charlie. I’m excited to share it.