With American Horror Story between seasons (and The Walking Dead about to wrap up its fourth season), the scarcity of television horror has left fans of the genre deflated. But on May 11, Showtime tears its way into the game with Penny Dreadful, a psychosexual horror series starring Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, and Timothy Dalton.
Created by John Logan (Acadamy Award-nominated writer of Gladiator, The Aviator, Hugo, and Skyfall), Penny Dreadful is set in London, circa 1891, and brings together some of literature’s most iconic characters — Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and Mina Harker — for a terrifying new journey. But if May is too far off for you, BuzzFeed has an exclusive look inside the series.
“The show actually started with Eva,” John Logan told BuzzFeed in an interview earlier this week. “I created Vanessa as the central character around which all the other characters weave, and wrote it for Eva because I knew I needed an actor with courage and absolute passion, because that’s what Vanessa is.”
Logan describes Vanessa as the enigmatic, beguiling, and haunted heart of Penny Dreadful — but while Vanessa was Logan’s entry point into this world, it is Ethan Chandler (Hartnett) who serves as the audiences’ eyes.
“He’s an American in 1891 Victorian London and, like all of us, he doesn’t know the rules of the game,” Logan said. “He has to learn about this world the same way the audience does.”
Hartnett, who hasn’t starred on a television series in over a decade, emerged as a front-runner for the role because of “the demons behind his eyes,” Logan said. “Josh is a real hero, but he’s got incredible vulnerability and depth within. All the characters have their curses, have their monstrous elements, and I think Josh perfectly embodies that.”
Vanessa and Ethan become quickly entwined, both metaphorically and physically, because each believes they can save the other. “There’s a darkness that compels both of them and, perhaps, they can find the light together,” Logan teased. “And also, let’s face it, they’re beautiful people you want to see together.”