GAS Interviews Guillermo del Toro! (Yes, THAT Guillermo del Toro!)


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Born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1964, writer-producer-director Guillermo del Toro has been working steadily in the film industry since the early 1990s, but his career really began to take off after directing Mimic in 1997. Right after that came The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy, the Oscar-winning Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy 2, and of course, Pacific Rim.

While he has 17 director credits to his name, he has more than double that with producer credits, most recently on the horror movie Mama and the upcoming animated feature Book of Life, due out in October.

But his current project takes him back to TV — where he first started his career way back in the mid-1980s. The Strain, a new horror series on FX, is based on the horror trilogy del Toro wrote with author Chuck Hogan, a story that first forayed into a comic series in 2011, published by Dark Horse.

Courtesy of FX, Geeks Are Sexy, along with numerous other online media outlets, were recently granted a conference call with writer-producer-director Guillermo del Toro and showrunner Carlton Cuse (Lost) to discuss The Strain (and more!).

The Strain airs on FX every Sunday night at 10 pm ET.

Guillermo del Toro, left, and Carlton Cuse.

Guillermo del Toro, left, and Carlton Cuse.

(NOTE: The first question was asked by yours truly, near the end of the call. All questions after mine were ones I wanted to ask, but other media outlets asked them first. Plus, the whole conference call ran close to a whopping 2 hours. Each media outlet was only allowed one question.)

Hello, guys! This is Lauren Berkley with Geeks Are Sexy.net Thank you so much for doing this today. My question is for Guillermo. Guillermo, I know that you were raised by your Catholic grandmother —

Guillermo del Toro: Yes.

Well, I was curious as to how much of the religion you grew up around has influenced your storytelling over your extensive body of work?

GDT: I think very much.

I think so too.

GDT: I do. I know that as a Catholic, the main mythology I seize upon, the way I understand the world, comes from that upbringing, including The Strain, which goes to very definite mythological and spiritual places in the third novel; it comes all from that. I really like to think about what it is that makes you right or wrong in this world and all that moral ambivalence is in the heroes.

The character of Corey is that he’s a character that is very certain, but somewhat emotionally remote, in the series. And in many ways, [The Strain character Abraham] Setrakian, who’s more outlandish, should be relatable in the way that Corey has too much certainty of himself, and little by little, he goes to a place of spiritual doubt, and ultimately enlightenment, in my opinion, as a character. So that’s definitely inspired very specifically by Catholic lore.

And I’m thinking, one of my favorite books in the Bible, and one of the most mysterious books in the Bible that I relate to the most, is the Book of Job, in which a man of faith is basically stripped of everything before finding a direct line to God’s voice. And I don’t want to sound like you’re about to step into a Catholic symposium dissertation with vampires, but ultimately, that speaks very highly to the arc of Corey. So you need him to start the series on a place of full certainty, and end up in a place of spiritual discovery.

Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather on "The Strain."

Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather on “The Strain.”

How closely is the mythology going to follow the books? And also, is Season 1 going to be Book One? … How are you planning to figure that out?

Carolton Cuse: Book One is Season 1, yes. We basically follow the narrative of the first book in the first season. The plan is that the show will run somewhere between three and five seasons, and as we work out the mythology and the storytelling for Season 2, we’ll have a better idea of exactly how long our journey is going to be. But it won’t be more than five seasons. We’re definitely writing to an endpoint, and we’re following the path as established in Guillermo and Chuck’s novels, but obviously, there’s a lot that’s also going to be added. The television show is its own experience, and there are new characters and new situations, different dramatic developments, so the show and the book can each be separately enjoyed.

And I think that the goal is not to literally translate the book into a television show. You want to take the book as a source of inspiration and then make the best possible television show that you can make. And I think Guillermo, Chuck, myself, all of us involved have basically said, “Okay, here’s the book, now how do we take the best stuff in here and then use that as elements and then make the best TV show we can?” But we view the TV show as its own creation.

GDT: And it was very clear from the start that we had the three books to plunder, but we also had the chance of inventing. We talked about milestones, that we want the milestones and the characters that are in the book to be hit, but with that, it became very malleable. Carlton decided, I think very wisely in retrospect, it made perfect sense as a game plan to, for example, leave the origins of The Master, which we opened Book One with, for a second season, if we go that way, and for example, bringing a set piece from Book Two to bookend the story of one character on Season 1. So, it’s a very elastic relationship that the series has with the book, but by that same token. it’s very respectful and mindful of the things that will not alienate someone that likes the books. It should feel as seamless.

Police procedurals and murder and gore and blood and pain and death are so popular in our culture. We seem to appreciate that kind of genre so much, and I wonder: What it is about us that we do?

GDT: From my end, what I think is very apparent is that we’ve come to the point where socially, as we are mammalian creatures –we are territorial, we are built to fight and fend off territorial challenges, reproduce, and sit a sedentary life — you know, ultimately that’s the way we’re socially and animalistically geared, and yet we live in a society that the more it isolates itself from its natural instincts, the more it seeks them in entertainment. And I think there is a vicarious thrill your brain needs — the way your body needs exercise in a way — your brain needs to be exposed to flight and fight instincts, and you seek it through a roller coaster or some people seek it through extreme sports or you can seek it in genres like noir crime, horror, adventure, etc. It’s literally a biochemical mammalian biofeedback with how we are constructed to organize the storytelling in our lives, I think.

CC: I completely agree with everything that Guillermo said, although I don’t discount that some reptiles will also like the show.

The Strain FX

This is a question for both of you. Guillermo, starting off with you, how was the transition from feature films to cable television, and what did the two of you learn working together on this as you made the tremendous trilogy turn into a series?

GDT: The transition came from both Chuck and I. It was very smooth in many ways, because we had the chance to adapt the novels to comic book form with Dark Horse. And coming in, we really sought Carlton’s guidance into this new form. I think there never has been an occasion in which our dialogue has seen anyone read the books and say, “This is not the way it’s in the books,” so that much was very satisfactory. For me, as a producer and director, it was about having some of the quirks that come from a feature film. I asked FX to give us a long pre-production period so I could really plan out the makeup effects, the creature effects, the visual effects — all of which I have big experience with — in order to try to bring to the pilot a big scope feel to the series doing sophisticated effects and some set pieces, while staying on a fiscally responsible budget and managing.

And from a director’s point of view, it was the same on the pilot. I didn’t want to go back and say, “Can I get one day more? Can I do many extra hours?” I wanted to fit in the sandbox what I was hoping would feel like a big pilot episode for a big series. And that pre-planning was crucial, but also adjusting the way I staged, the way I approach coverage, or storytelling, and yet not sacrificing anything. It was both some fiscal constraints, but creative absolute freedom, which was a huge thrill for me to get a phone call from [FX Network President] John Landgraf before starting the series, saying to me, “We encourage creator content. We love Carlton, we love you, and we want you guys to do the most idiosyncratic, best version of the series that you can.”

CC: And for me, I really jumped at the chance to work with Guillermo. I had not done a show with creatures, and so to be able to do a show with creatures with, in my opinion, the best creative creatures out there in the world was an incredible opportunity. So it’s been a great learning experience for me really to collaborate with Guillermo, and I think the show has been a really great combination of both our processes, in that we have a very complementary set of skills.

The vampires in "The Strain" comics.

The vampires in “The Strain” comics.

We’re starting to see this big proliferation of genre stuff, which is obviously not new, but the comic book stuff that really has been invading TV. Just on broadcast alone, there’s five new shows based on comics. What do you think is behind that proliferation and what do you think could be next?

CC: I think as a creative person, as a showrunner, I don’t really think about the larger trends. I think about what I connect to emotionally. And so for me, I connected to this story. I felt there was a way to upend the vampire genre here. I felt like there was, as I said before, for me kind of a wonderful collaboration to be had, as well as the bones in this story, of a way to, I think, to tell a great monster story for television that would find its own unique footing in the television landscape. I really think our show is different than anything else that’s out there.

And I would add to what Guillermo said before: I think there are these delightful moments, shocking moments, but I think there’s a lot more to the show also. I consider it to be a thriller with horror elements, but there also are, I think, there’s an incredible mosaic of characters engaged in all sorts of interesting, dramatic conflicts, and I believe that the show will appeal to a broader range of people. It’s not a show just for horror aficionados. So, I think while it is a genre show, I think we’ve made a genre show that I think is more than just being a straight genre show.

GDT: And to answer your question, I think that the way we have, and when you talk about the Baby Boomer generation, or a second generation of filmmakers raised in Hollywood, every generation brings with them the media in which they were raised as part of the narrative leap in what is acceptable or not in mainstream entertainment.

In the case of the generation presently dominating the landscape, you have a huge acceptance of pop elements in culture. The viability of comic books, video games, or other forms of entertainment is not something new, but it’s pervasive right now, because it came with a generation that has a pervasive influence of those mediums in the way they shape their narrative about their fiction. But everybody knows the first Batman was a black-and-white Batman right at the time that the comic book strip was in vogue. Flash Gordon. It’s always the interaction of genre and media in mainstream movie making and media that is alternative to that has always existed.

I think that the only thing I feel has changed lately is very often myself, as a comic book collector and reader, find out that many comic books feel almost like a trial for a movie or a TV series, and I gravitate more towards comic books that remain idiosyncratic and strange.

I was curious as to why you decided to do a full-blown series versus doing a TV miniseries, which has become really popular, or perhaps a TV movie or even releasing it all at once, like a lot of the streaming series are doing?

CC: FX’s model, our partner in the show, is not a streaming service, so that sort of eliminated that.

Is that something you had to consider during the creative process?

CC: No. Look, I think for us, I’ll let Guillermo speak as well, but I think certainly for me, the material…I think you basically choose the medium that most fits the material, and I think the three books are an incredible source material. And I think they lend themselves to a series more than a miniseries, more than a movie, and it felt like a very natural and appropriate match to look at the books as a three- to five-year television series experience.

GDT: When we started writing the books, the story of it is a little convoluted, because it was originally pegged as an arc for a series. And I knew from the get-go that it was three books when I approached Chuck with the bible I had written for it, and I really wanted something that we accomplished in the books, which is the books feel very different one from another. It is my dearest hope that we can bring that evolution to, God willing, further seasons of the show.

One of the things that linked me very strongly to Carlton is when we met — we met one fateful morning for breakfast — and he said to me, “I love the fact that you start the first book debunking the spiritual aspect and the mythical aspect of vampirism, and the second book you go into sociological aspects of the tale, chemical, biological aspects of the tale, and you come full circle on the third book, recuperating a new spiritual dimension to the myth.” And we knew that journey was not achievable in a single swift six episode arc or eight episode arc of a miniseries. We knew that structurally, we wanted each season to not only continue what you did on the first one, but to evolve into different and hopefully, more increasingly daring territory, and I think that in that sense, it really was the natural way to go, creatively.

How did you choose your writing staff for this show, considering the elements involved with the genre — the sprawling worlds, the source book, etc?

CC: The job of putting together a writing staff is always something that I think of as akin to assembling an orchestra. You need to find people who have different voices but who all can harmonize together and create a single sound. So, first and foremost, I was very happy that Chuck Hogan wanted to engage not just as the co-writer of the books, but also as a writer on the show.

And so having Chuck on staff has been a hugely wonderful thing. I hired these two wonderful writers from Battlestar Galactica  –David Weddle and Brad Thompson — and then I hired Regina Corrado, who was on Deadwood and Sons of Anarchy, and Jennifer Hutchinson, who was on Breaking Bad, and a wonderful young writer named Jason Brigg Gibson. We had this wonderful combination of different voices and writers with different interests, all of whom, I think, brought something really unique to the very complicated and arduous process of adapting a book into a brand new creation as a show. There’s lots of new stuff in the show, there are new characters in the show, there are lots of new situations, and each of these writers really contributed to that process.

GDT: I think that in this, I completely rely on Carlton. When the charge of a showrunner is applied, you know who’s running the show, and Carlton has the experience and the knowledge and the capacity to cast the writers’ room in the way that he thinks is appropriate for the show. We jibe, we veto ideas and so forth, but ultimately, he’s the arbiter of how that part of the show goes and the direction the show takes and who gets to participate as a writer. I think we have a great sampler of different disciplines and different points of view into the story that he needs to orchestrate into something seamless.

Published in 2009, "The Strain" was the first book in what became known as "The Strain Trilogy." The final two books were "The Fall" and "The Night Eternal."

Published in 2009, “The Strain” was the first book in what became known as “The Strain Trilogy.” The final two books were “The Fall” and “The Night Eternal.”

I wanted to ask you about Lance Henriksen’s participation in this, because I think it’s very creative. I want to hear, just from Guillermo, how did you woo Lance? You are obviously a friend of his, but can you talk a little bit about Lance and as well as the creature design, because this isn’t the first time you’ve tread down the vampire path, Guillermo.

GDT: Yes. The thing that we know is that The Master, the character, encompasses many voices, so he’s a character made of many voices over the centuries. He overtakes bodies and he stays alive that way. So we wanted to meld several voices, and one of the voices that we wanted to use was Lance, because of its power and authority and the way it sounds, and then mix it with other voices as the base for The Master’s voice, for the authority and the power it has.

And in terms of creature creation, we really went into it trying to, little by little, reveal the biological traits and the design traits of these creatures to make sense to an audience — not just from a looking terrifying, looking good point of view — but to make them feel organic, to make them feel like almost a different breed in the evolutionary history of this planet. You get to see them as a species, in a way, the more you advance in the plot and in this series. So, designing it took approximately six months of just purely conceptual and sculpture and draftsmanship design, and executing it took a very long, long time. It was as complex and as demanding as designing creatures for a feature film.

Actor Lance Henriksen of the movie "Aliens" and the TV show "Millennium," among dozens of others.

Actor Lance Henriksen of the movie “Aliens” and the TV show “Millennium,” among dozens of others.

I have a stylistic question: We’ve seen a lot of movies and television shows where they deal with an outbreak or a contagion and they usually have this very bleak, very gloomy, washed out color palette. The Strain goes in the completely opposite direction; everything is very saturated, it’s very rich, the colors are very vivid. Was this a conscious choice to make the show stand out a little bit more?

GDT: One of the reasons we asked FX for a long lead time for the show was that I spent a long time working out line and saturation patterns with coordinating art department, wardrobe department, set design, and cinematography to give the show a very strong look. I was jokingly calling it “saturated monochrome,” because we have very few colors in the show. We are going for a palette that limits itself to basically cyan and amber in clash with each other, and then they make room for red to exist, and red is only in connection with the vampires.

And the other thing that I wanted for the show was that if you’re channel surfing, the show would almost pop out and demand your attention, visually. I wanted it to have a very strong inception from comic book form and illustration. But when people think about it, they need to think about it as an orchestration of wardrobe, set, cinematography, and ultimately, the way you texture the clothing, the walls, the sets, and to giving it a unique look. And I went for this color palette because the clash in the show — you’re talking about daylight and nighttime — so it’s a clash between gold and blue; basically, night and day. That led me to cyan, which is a color in the spectrum between blue and green, so to speak, and that is the night world, and then the amber, which is the day world, clashing.

And in between those colors, every time you see red — with the exception of a police siren or a fire extinguisher, something causally of the real world — every time you see red, you know it’s linked in some way to the vampires. So, some of the characters that are going to turn in the pilot are coded, even from the beginning, to have a little bit of red, sort of creatively telegraphing to, at least me, or anyone in retrospect, that they were linked to that world.

My question is about the creature development which you referred to. Can you give me some idea of how the concept of these characters developed in your mind?

GDT: Yes. I’ve been obsessed by vampires for a long, long time, since I was a very young kid — and a very strange kid. I read about vampire mythology worldwide and I familiarized myself with the Japanese, Filipino, Malaysian, and Eastern European variations on the vampire, and many, many others. I kept very detailed notes as a kid on where to go with the vampire myth, in terms of brutality, social structure, biology, this and that, and some of those notes made it into my first feature, Cronos. Some
of them made it in Blade II, when I directed that, and most of them made it into The Strain. And designing them, we knew we had [to make] it very clear that, for example, The Master needed to be hidden for at least half the season or more to not make him that accessible.

I came up with the idea that this guy that has been alive for centuries, and essentially, is an apex of the Dark Ages in the middle of a world of imminent modernity. You have people with cell phones, jet airplanes, iPads, texting, Internet, all of that, and in the middle of it, there is a 9-foot-tall, handcarved coffin with a creature that has been alive for centuries. It’s ancient, and that’s what makes it powerful — that it doesn’t care about any of the modern accoutrements of mankind that give mankind such a false sense of security.

And The Master needed to look that ancient, so we decided that he was going to become his wardrobe and that eventually, when he reveals himself, you have a second layer. So we designed the wardrobe, the cape, and the multiple layers of clothes that are falling apart, because he has an accumulation of clothes over the 1800s, 1900s, 21st century — he’s just accumulating rags — and he needed to look like a lump, like a bunch of rags thrown on the floor, then come alive, and out of all these rags comes out this incredibly glistening and viscerally biological appendage that then drains the first victim. And that’s the way we started guiding the process of designing The Master. And the more we go into the season, the more you see of him and the more you discover layer after layer of that creature design.

The Master on “The Strain.”

And what about the other characters?

GDT: Well, I knew that the older the vampires stay alive, the more they lose their humanity. They start literally by losing their heart. Their heart is suffocated by a vampire heart that overtakes the functions, and this was important metaphorically for me, because the beacon that guides these vampires to their victims is love. Love is what makes them seek their victims. They go to the people they love the most. So they turn their instinct that is most innately human into the most inhuman feeding mechanism, so their heart is dead.

Then shortly thereafter, their digestive system is overtaken. Then, as we do in an early episode, their genitals fall off, and their excretion system becomes really, really efficient in the way that ticks, or lower forms of life that feed on blood do. A tick, in order to feed, needs to eliquate itself, and they are eliquating while they are feeding. And in the series, that comes with the big splashes of ammonia-infused liquid that they expel while they’re feeding. And then I know that they lose their soft tissue, their ears start falling off, their nose…If they’ve been alive for several years, their nose rots and falls away, and they develop a tracheal opening to vent the extra heat from the metabolism and to project the stinger. So, I take a very biological approach. It’s not just, “Oh, that looks cool.” I try to have it make sense, biologically, in the design.

And you notice they lose their hair, because their body heat is so big, it consumes the fat in the scalp, burns the roots, and they then change color, because they lose their red cells.

the-strain-vampire

I wanted to ask you about revisiting the books as you were making this series — whether or not there were elements within the book that you wanted to preserve for the book experience and keep that a unique experience. When mining things for the TV show, was there some kind of discussion between you guys as far as what to translate and then what to preserve of the book?

CC: No, I don’t think so. Well, there was a lot of conversation about what to translate. We never discussed preserving something for the books. The experience of reading a book is always unique. I believe that you render a version of the story when you read a book in a way that is unique and special to each person who reads it. And I think the experience of reading those books is going to be always separate from what the show’s going to be like. I think we basically, my approach with the series was, let’s take the best of what was in the books and let’s figure out how we can translate that into the scripted form and make that into the best version of a TV series. And in many cases it was also, “Okay, here’s an idea that’s in this book that’s really great. How do we actually embellish this? How do we take this and make this into even more of a story?”

So, the books were, and remain, an incredible source of departure and inspiration. But again, it’s a very artistic process to translate and adapt a book into a series, and I think we really felt very early on that the two just had to be their own thing. And we would use the books as far as we could and then we would add stuff as it made sense, and that’s what we did.

GDT: As far as myself, obviously we have to choose what stories and what quirks you tell and not tell from the book. There are, believe it or not, far more disturbing moments in the book, here and there, than there are in the series, because some of them are very powerful when you read about them, but they are almost unbearable if you were going to stage them the way they are described in the book. So, believe it or not, we did exercise restraint.

And the other one is that we have in the three books at least one or two instances of an epistolary device — being a diary, or a letter, or a document — being part of the narrative, and we threw that away to have a right here, right now type of narrative that I think lends itself much better to the TV series.

Obviously, today’s pop culture is really inundated with lots of vampire stories — I think Carlton said that earlier — so my question to each of you is this: What makes The Strain special for you?

CC: I think we’ve had our fill of romantic, brooding, sparkling, depressed vampire characters — which those are really sort of like love stories sprinkled with a genre. The idea of sort of re-imagining the vampires, going back in a way that the roots of what vampires are, that they are scary, dangerous creatures, that was something that was incredibly compelling for me. That was something that really drew me to the project, and the idea that when you see these things, it’s not good.

I also love all the stuff that Guillermo said before about the biology and stuff…I think Guillermo’s just a master of creature creation, and so that the prospects of working with creatures that were unique and so complicated and so cleverly imagined was an enormous appeal and that conception of them was really vastly different than what we see in other shows, and that completely appealed to me.

And then I would just add one other layer, which is that on a show like The Walking Dead, they have zombies, and those zombies are capable of doing a few limited things. I think one of the things that’s really interesting about this story, that really inspired me as a showrunner, we not only learn about the functioning of these vampires, but we also come to understand that there’s a hierarchy of vampires, and then there’s a history to these vampires, and there’s a mythology behind the existence of these vampires. And as that unfolds, and as we began to understand that these creatures are not only scary and dangerous but also sentient and smart, that adds just a whole other layer to the forces of antagonism, which just makes for great storytelling.

GDT: Yes, I think that obviously this is a mythology I’ve been living with for many, many years. I think that if I have to find vampires similar to what we are doing, the only other relation I can find is my own creation in Blade II, which comes from the same set of concepts, albeit a much more limited number of ideas we’re able to go into to fit that universe. But very rarely do we get to see a savage form of vampirism in either film or TV or basically any other medium, so I think the degree to which this mythology and biology, and basically, lore, of this type of vampire is laid out is really quite unique and evolving.

And I think that, God willing, we have the chance to continue finding our footing and expanding and correcting and continue to develop what we do in the first season, but I think there is a lot of that breadth to what we’re attempting here. And we make it very clear from the first few hours of content that these creatures are not the romantic version of vampirism or the glamorous version of how fun it could be to live forever but a very painful, very biologically challenging species. And finally, as we go into it, I think that we reveal to the audience that there’s more than just the way they look — the secret history of these creatures is revealed little by little.

Guillermo del Toro and one of his vampire creations from "Blade II."

Guillermo del Toro and one of his vampire creations from “Blade II.”

It seems like the show also focuses on personal crises and how the characters respond to that, just as much as it does the supernatural elements — they often have their own things going on in their lives. But I wanted to know more about how you plan to maintain the balance between the supernatural elements and the characters’ personal lives and how they’re handling what’s going on there, as well throughout the season.

CC: I think that the personal lives of the characters are very important. I think that television is about forming a bond between the audience and the characters that exist in the world of the show, and I would say that on Lost we spent 80% of the time talking about the characters and maybe 20% of the time talking about the mythology, at the most. I think that that’s why the show was more popular than being just a narrow niche genre show, and the audience was concerned about whether Kate was going to end up with Jack or Sawyer, as much as they were about whether they were going to get eaten by the Smoke Monster.

In this show, I think we’ve tried to take the same approach. We want the audience to engage in our characters — we want to understand who they are, what their lives are like, where they came from. I think as much as these vampires are causing upheaval in the city, they’re also causing upheaval in the personal lives of the characters, and we’re seeing these characters have to come to terms with the upending of the social, emotional, personal structures of their lives, and that stuff is a very important part of our storytelling.

And again, we spend a lot of time in the writers’ room talking about who these characters are, what they want, apart from just getting rid of the vampire plague, and I think as we go downstream with the show, one of the things that excites me — and I know excites the other writers — is getting a chance to get even further into who these characters are and watch their relationships unfold with each other, as they’re in the middle of this incredible crisis.

GDT: Well, I think that it’s very hard to define the dynamic of a show until you are five or six episodes into it, but I can say that we tried to balance very hard small moments. For example, the moment where Eichorst, the German vampire, meets with Setrakian through a pane of glass in the visitation booth or the moment the father receives his lost daughter coming back home, with bigger action set pieces.

Now, that balance continues throughout the series. I think we are, in some degree, completed all the way through Episode 13, and we’ve seen that we have successfully maintained quiet character moments with bigger moments. How successful they are, obviously, is dependent on your empathy with those characters, but the fact is, as a genre piece, we need to have identifiable characters — the scientist, the sidekick, this and that. But we also go to characters that normally you don’t get in a series like this, a case in point, for example, Miguel Gomez as Gus, a character that seems to be on the fringe of the tale and gains his own footing; the very character of Setrakian, which is a character you’ve seen before but has a twist that you haven’t seen. It is my hope that in the evolution of the series, Corey Stoll, which is the square-jawed, troubled hero that you may identify from other series, evolves into places that are much darker and challenging, both for the character and the actor.

But that balance occurs over time. And I can say with great pride and great hope that we have made it a point to maintain the balance through the series and hopefully, take it even further as we go along.

David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian in "The Strain."

David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian in “The Strain.”

What was it like for you personally to see this story that you’ve worked on and you had on the page come to life on the screen?

GDT: It was really beautiful to go through the process with new partnerships. I think that it’s great to do it with a partner that has been so close to the books, like Chuck, and someone that seems to have such a strong and revitalizing take as Carlton. I think it has really been quite energizing for me to see that. I think that Carlton and I both come from a world where partnerships are basically a single-minded approach to storytelling. Carlton and myself are used to storytelling on the audiovisual universe in an absolute way, and this partnership has required truly growth and opening into, wow, our views are enriched by both of us having really strong points of view, which is not unlike the partnership I have with Chuck Hogan. …

And it has been, quite frankly, great to hear “no” from Carlton. To say, “No, now listen, this is why we’re not going to do this.” And to learn from that, to say, “Wow, I never thought about it in that way.” The idiosyncrasies of being a filmmaker and director or a writer is that you domineer basically what happens — you want the character to go right and crash a car. And this is truly one of the most complete collaboration processes I’ve experienced with the triumvirate that is Chuck, Carlton, and myself. It’s hard to define where every territory ends, but it’s not hard at all to know that each of us brings a different strength to the project, and we trust each other. So, that process has been the most beautiful difference between putting the project on the page and seeing it fortify as a series — that you don’t exactly land where you thought you would land, but you land on a place that feels incredibly right.







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