Finally we’re getting to the reason we here at Dread Central attend the San Diego Comic-Con: to talk about horror with those who create it for the big and small screens and share what we learn with you guys. First on my agenda were “Damien” cast members Bradley James, Barbara Hershey, and Scott Wilson plus exec producer/showrunner Glen Mazzara, who is also writing all of the episodes.
But before we had a chance to chat with them, we encountered dueling religious groups outside the Convention Center. We of course sided with the supporters of the Anti-Christ, who also provided us with the “Who Is Damien?” booklet you’ll find at the end of the interview along with a few more photos.
Per usual, all the parties were pretty tight-lipped when it came to specific details about the upcoming series, but Mazzara did share with us that the tone is “very realistic.” The original 1976 film was the source of the story and style, but grounding the show in realism is what “makes the horror play.” So we’ll have a good mix of horror and thriller with the element of “a conspiracy run by Satan.”
We asked if there’ll be many special effects to look forward to, and Mazzara coyly promised a “big surprise” in the first episode that he didn’t want to spoil, but it sounded like we horror fans especially will appreciate it. That led into a discussion of the state of mind of the character of Damien, and Glen said he is “always facing the question of fate vs. free will” and holding on to his humanity.
James mentioned how the first script he read sparked his imagination, and the passion of everyone behind the project is what really got him to sign on. Going back to his character’s mental condition, he said that Damien is the type of guy you’d want this “burden” to fall on. He “knows there’s something strange about himself” and is trying to get away from it. So, it sounds like he’s more a man of action than someone who’s angsty; however, Mazzara added that as Damien is trying to gain control of his life, things do go in “unexpected ways.”
Hershey and Wilson (who have worked together in the past and share an obvious admiration for each other) joined us next, and while Barbara said she hasn’t seen anything of the show other than the scripts — which she called “wild” — and what’s been happening on the set, she did describe it as seeming “very contemporary.” There are all these forces that want Damien… but her character is “completely complex” and her motives aren’t always clear. She’s protective and very powerful and warped. (Our kind of gal!)
Scott said we’ll see forces of good and evil, often leaning toward the darker side. He described Barbara’s character as “a woman of mystery.” She has been in the shadows for Damien’s whole life and is just coming to the forefront now that he’s the right age (30, the same as when Jesus began his ministry) to learn who he really is. Their two characters are “partners,” or more like “frenemies” who are watching over Damien.
The show is set in New York City, and according to Wilson, we’ll be seeing some quite “provocative ideas” being brought up. He teased that since Lucifer is Latin for “bringer of light,” we can expect some typical religious conventions to be flipped.
And with that, they rushed off to their signing and panel. But as you no doubt saw earlier, we finally have a trailer, and I’d say they’re all off to a great start!
“Damien” stars Bradley James as Damien Thorn. Barbara Hershey co-stars as Ann Rutledge, the world’s most powerful woman, who has been tasked with making sure Damien fulfills his destiny. Omid Abtahi portrays Amani Golkar, a close colleague of Damien’s whose fierce loyalty will be tested when he realizes who his brother-in-arms actually is. Meganlyn Echikunwoke plays Simone Baptiste, a woman whose life is thrown into turmoil when tragedy unexpectedly strikes. Scott Wilson, who worked with Mazzara on “The Walking Dead,” where he portrayed fan favorite Hershel Greene, guest stars.
The first season of the series, from Glen Mazzara and Fox 21 TV Studios, will include ten episodes. In his TV directing debut, Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) will helm and executive produce the first episode.
“Damien,” slated to premiere in 2016, is written and executive produced by Mazzara via his 44 Strong Productions.
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