Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

'In a town full of monsters, what makes someone monstrous?' Visiting Netflix's 'Hemlock Grove'

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | Indiewire April 17, 2013 at 1:11PM

If "House of Cards" is Netflix's bid at a "Mad Men," the company's next original title, the upcoming "Hemlock Grove," is its attempt at the less overtly prestigious and more obviously popular type of show that's currently dominating cable TV -- the sexy, bloody genre series.
0
Hemlock 4

For Skarsgård, who's in the role of Letha's brother Roman, his wealthy scion is more of a troubled kid than a "Twilight"-style vampire. "On paper he's had an easy life, but he's battling a lot of demons, and he's not happy at all. He's doing bad things, but he's a victim in a lot of ways," he explains, adding that a desire to, for once, do good drives him to investigate the murder.

He's also less in touch with his uncanny side than others: "A big part of his character throughout the season is him finding out who he is or what he is." Skarsgård, whose brothers Alexander and Gustaf are currently also on the small screen in larger than life roles in "True Blood" and "Vikings," had also been interested in working in TV.

"Growing up with 'The Sopranos' and 'The Wire,' as an actor, I really wanted to portray a story that changes throughout," he said. "We don't get to read the scripts until a week before shooting, it's almost like living your character."

Liboiron, who most recently starred in Fox's canceled "Terra Nova," plays Peter Rumancek, a poor kid of Romani heritage who has a lupine side, and who's the natural first suspect when the body is found. "The show's so specific in its own world that to me it was a completely original take on the whole werewolf thing," he said. "The fact that he's a Gypsy was so much more interesting to me than the werewolf aspect. They got a bad rap. They have this rich, beautiful culture revolving around family." Culture aside, it's the character's grisly, painful and distinctive transformation scene that's attracted a lot of attention.

Hemlock 5

"Hemlock Grove" is based on the novel of the same name by Brian McGreevy, published in March of last year and the first of an intended trilogy. McGreevy, who's both an EP on the show and the head writer, has enjoyed an unusual amount of creative control over "Hemlock Grove," which according to him was by design.

"Myself and the other executive producers pursued the Netflix because we knew that that was their approach, that they were sympathetic to the way we wanted to do things." He and his screenwriting partner Lee Shipman wrote over half the episodes themselves, and he spoke of the process of expanding what was in the novel onto the screen (as opposed to the more typical condensing you'd do when adapting a book to a film) as "the fun part."

There are freedoms beyond just those for sex and gore when writing for a Netflix series. Since "Hemlock Grove" will play online, as opposed to on air with commercials, McGreevy noted that they had the freedom to deviate from the traditional four-act structure of a TV installment. "Episodically, we didn't really have an interest in doing that, and episodically, Netflix was not in the market for that," he said. "The idea is that, like a novel, the thing is designed to work as a whole," though they still to maintain "narrative propulsion." It is, he admitted, something of a new frontier -- "We're all in the exploration phase of that, now. Hopefully we've figured it out."

Hemlock Grove 8

As for overall themes of the series, cast member Joel de la Fuente ("Space: Above and Beyond"), whose Dr. Johann Pryce works in the ominous biotech lab that more recently moved into the town, suggested that it's one of reexamining morality and outcasts.

"In 'Hemlock Grove,' we know there's going to be a vampire or two, there's going to be a werewolf or two, there's going to be a giant creature, there's going to be a mad scientist -- in a town full of monsters, what makes someone monstrous? It's the things that we do."

McGreevy addressed it more succinctly: "I wanted to psychologically exorcise my own adolescence."


This article is related to: Television, TV Features, Hemlock Grove, Netflix, Brian McGreevy







SnagFilms

Watch Over 10,000 Free Movies!

We the Economy: Supply and Dance, Man!

Why is the law of supply and demand so powerful? In this whimsical tale, our friendly narrator guides bored students Jonathan and Kristin through a microeconomic musical extravaganza.

More