Expectations are high for Netflix’s adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. After a largely misguided film adaptation that put Jim Carrey in the iconic Count Olaf role and narratively shrunk the 13-book series into a truncated, 90-minute movie, Netflix, along with creator Mark Hudis and director Barry Sonnenfeld (of Men in Black fame) are attempting to give the beloved series a proper adaptation.
Promising two episodes for each book and planning an arc that will span three seasons, Netflix, as with many of its series, has no doubt poured an immense amount of resources into the project, adding illustrious names like Patrick Warburton and Neil Patrick Harris (in the role of Olaf) to the project. Ahead of the series premiere in January 2017, Harris sat down with Collider (and a few other outlets) to discuss the upcoming adaptation, including his own take on Snicket’s “awful” villain.
I tried to just focus as much as I could on being as literary possible and try to honor how Olaf was described by Lemony [Snicket] and by Daniel Handler. So, a lot of piercing darkness and sort of delusional dementia. He thinks he’s so handsome and he thinks he’s incredibly charming and gifted as an actor, and yet he’s not. So I didn’t want to be overly charming, I wanted to be just awful. Distinctly mean. And then let the levity of the situation inform the takeaway for the viewer. I didn’t want to make him like myself.
When asked whether or not the series would remain true to the original books, Harris was quick to confirm the series’ literary ties.
I think it’s super faithful to the books. I think at times it’s shockingly dark. From what I gathered, Netflix was concerned that adults weren’t going to be able to value it because it was skewing towards a younger demographic. And I think now that it’s done, they want to make sure the kids still value it and it’s not gone too Stranger Things. I really wanted Olaf to be bad. To be a bad person.
Commenting on the scale of Snicket’s original novels, which continues to expand as the series goes on, Harris added that the series will have a similarly grand vision, much of which has been accomplished with “super practical” effects on massive sound stages.Daniel Handler, the real author behind the “Lemony Snicket” pen name, has been confirmed as being part of the series, providing behind-the-scenes guidance and writing supervision, which Harris clarified further.
He was very involved with a lot of stuff. He even helped write the theme song. And he’s in the show, you’ll see him in the actual piece. He’s our own little Alfred Hitchcock. He was very involved in the writing, as he should have been.
But despite the clear investment Netflix has made in the series, Harris was unsure whether or not Season 2 had been green lit behind the scenes. “If we’re lucky enough,” he added.
A Series of Unfortunate Events will premiere on Netflix January 13, 2017.