From the twisted minds of executive producer Eli Roth and novelist Brian McGreevy comes Netflix’s latest series, “Hemlock Grove,” which will be released in its entirety on Friday, April 19th (look for a review of the first three episodes later this week).
“Hemlock Grove” stars Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, Bill Skaarsgard, Landon Liboiron, Penelope Mitchell, and Lili Taylor and revolves around the mysterious murder of a teenage girl and the investigation into who – or what – may have caused her untimely and gruesome demise.
Dread Central recently chatted with co-stars Janssen and Scott about what attracted them to “Hemlock Grove” and the creative freedoms that working on a serialized show allowed them both, and they gave us a hint about their characters and what fans can expect from the first season.
Dread Central: I was able to see the first three episodes and really can’t wait to finish the season up- it’s really different than I was expecting, which I’m sure is something you’ve probably heard a lot today. Was the fact that this wasn’t your typical drama a huge appeal to you?
Dougray Scott: Definitely. I also saw this as a new beginning in some ways; with the way that Netflix has begun distributing original programming, I really think it allows fans or audiences a way to see dramatic shows much differently than they used to. So that for me was what excited me the most.
Then when I realized that this was also based on a novel that was also really well done, I just knew we had an opportunity to do something different that had powerful and unique storytelling behind it, which is always something you hope for as an actor. So all those positive elements, plus working with Famke of course (laughs), were hugely influential in me taking on this role.
Famke Janssen: I completely agree with Dougray; for me, there were many reasons why I wanted to be a part of this show. The one thing I always start with is, ‘Can I live with this character?’ When I realized I could, that was the first step. Then I looked at the novel, and that made my decision MUCH easier because it was so compelling.
But what I really appreciate about these stories and “Hemlock Grove” in particular is that it’s not the show you’re necessarily expecting. We take a lot of conventions and audiences’ notions of genre stories and characters and turn them completely on their head. Audiences are going to realize at the end of the 13 episodes that these characters they thought they were starting off with are nothing like they ever imagined once the first season is wrapped up.
I’m just really proud to be in the company that I’m in on “Hemlock Grove,” and I think what Netflix is doing with their new distribution model, first with “House of Cards” and now with us, is really different and could change a lot of things in the industry. Plus, with the way that I’m designing my life now since I’m also directing and producing, to shoot all these episodes like we did all at once really gave me a lot of freedom to continue to pursue other avenues of my career at the same time, and with a lot of network shows you don’t get that kind of flexibility.
Dread Central: So let’s talk about your characters; they’re both parents who are definitely struggling with a lot of things both in their own lives and with their kids–
Famke Janssen: Yeah, I’m not really sure we can say either one of them are very good parents at all (laughs).
Dougray Scott: Yeah, I think there’s a certain sense of tragedy to what both of these parents go through in this show, and in some ways their children are dealing with tragic circumstances because of those decisions we made. What’s really funny to me is that Norman is the guy who is the first to criticize Olivia (Janssen’s character), but he’s just as guilty as she is. Just because maybe he isn’t necessarily ‘evil’ or whatever, you don’t necessarily see that in him at first, but yes, he’s completely messed up as a parent. And we play with those ideas a lot in this show.
Famke Janssen: And I would say that Olivia is overbearing and a bit manipulative, but what’s great about the character is that she’s always hard to figure out. She never shows the hand she’s playing with, which is a great thing to get to do as an actress. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if certain things are affecting her on an emotional level, but they really are; she’s just able to put forward that brave face so that you always think she’s in control of the situation…even when she’s not.
Dread Central: Does working in the television format allow you guys a lot more creative freedom then?
Dougray Scott: Absolutely; it’s also a great opportunity to dig deeper into characters and story when you have more time, and it’s even better when you’ve got a story that takes all these characters on some very interesting and engaging journeys like we have. Norman really does go through hell in the first season of “Hemlock Grove” so it will be interesting to see what happens next. If we get a ‘next’ that is (laughs).
Famke Janssen: Even though it’s gotten better, there really are a lot of restrictions on network TV. “Hemlock Grove” feels very much more like a cable show since we were able to take a lot of risks, and that’s really appealing I think. And the format definitely does allow you that benefit of time to develop characters that maybe don’t seem important when the story first begins but as things unfold, you realize that all along the things that you may have thought going into this series aren’t true at all. We were also given a lot of room to do some wild and inventive things, and when you have such a talented cast, like you do with every single one of my co-stars, then only good things can happen.
Dread Central: Can you discuss what fans can expect from the first season of “Hemlock Grove” without giving too much away?
Famke Janssen: It’s pretty crazy (laughs); some things do get wrapped up, but we also leave so much open to explore in a second season. All the characters really transform too – in more than one way in some instances – and I’m really proud of our work on it. And with Olivia, we definitely find out more about her, but because she’s so complicated, I do hope I get to explore her world more in the future.
Dougray Scott: There’s a lot of material in the novel, but there’s also a lot of ways we can take these stories in the future too. I also think people are going to be blown away by the werewolves- that was something from the novel that I wasn’t sure how it would translate onto the screen, but it really works. Did you get to see it?
Dread Central: I did; it’s really a different approach, which I thought was pretty cool.
Dougray Scott: Me too; I love that it’s a really violent process but visually striking too. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
“Hemlock Grove” is a riveting one-hour murder mystery that revolves around the residents of a former Pennsylvania steel town. When 17-year-old Brooke Bluebell is brutally murdered, any of Hemlock’s peculiar inhabitants – or killer creatures – could be suspects. Through the investigation the town’s seamier side is exposed, revealing nothing is what it seems. Beautiful, terrifying, and graphic, “Hemlock Grove” is unlike anything else in its genre.
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