The icky gooey fun of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain returned for a second season last night. In anticipation of the premiere, the cast and creators made the trek to Comic-Con to premiere some exclusive new footage and preview just what’s in store for vampires and humans alike. What new gross heights can The Strain possibly reach now (particularly after poor rock-star Gabriel’s fate)? Is New York completely screwed? How closely will season two adhere to the books? Where does each character now find themselves? Who’s in for some romance? (Hint: probably not who you’re thinking)…
- Season Two will be eighty percent new material, deviating heavily from books. Author Chuck Hogan gave his blessing for said changes. Part of the joy of the series he stated was going back and “reinventing” what he had once written. Del Toro elaborated: “We put up postmarks [for the show] but then wanted to play with it.” He stated that he’s learned to embrace the constantly evolving nature of a television show. You can’t go in with a 100% game plan. “TV is a living entity… You need to let it tell you what it needs.”
- Star Corey Stoll revealed that Ephraim has hit “the bottom of the bottle”, now that his estranged wife has been turned into a vampire. He was quick to say though that he’s already played an alcoholic (referencing House of Cards) and wanted to make sure this depiction was different. On The Strain, Ephraim is “a functional alcoholic and… gets to crack wise.”
- Mia Maestro stated that her character Nora is much “more unleashed” this second season. “She’s a complete new person… She becomes a warrior, ready to kill anyone at any time.”
- What’s it like now that Ephraim’s wife Kelly is a vampire? Per actress Natalie Brown – It’s a “a ton of fun… It’s the best worst thing that ever happened to Kelly.” Natalie stated that it now allows her to interact with different members of the cast and that she doesn’t mind sitting in the makeup chair for four and half hours a day.
Does Eldritch Palmer justify his motives (i.e. selling out all of humanity for the sake of extending his life)? Jonathan Hyde laughed the question off: “I don’t think he justifies anything to himself. Never has, never will.” Hyde continued, “However in the second season, you will see a softer side to [Eldritch]. Showrunner Carlton Cuse then chimed in with “Maybe a little romance.” Make of this what you will.
- Miguel Gomez stated that in the first season his character Gus was “a lone wolf going through things by himself”. But this season, “he does cross with a few of the characters.”
- What’s Richard Sammel’s (Nazi vampire Thomas Eichorst) favorite joke? “Two planets meet. One planet tells the other one – ‘You don’t look very good.’ The planet responds – ‘That’s because I have Homo sapiens.’ The other planet leans in – ‘Don’t worry – it won’t last.’” After the joke finished, del Toro just shook his head – “You’re one weird dude [Richard].”
- Do the vampires of The Strain have any connection to those in Blade 2? Del Toro stated that he had the notes for these vampires far before that “when [he] was trying to do I Am Legend. That didn’t work… but ostensibly it’s the same blue prints from before Blade…”
- There will be more flashbacks on this upcoming season of The Strain. Per Carlton Cuse: “I like that this is an ancient story that spans centuries. There is a flashback that goes way, way back.” [Of note: he is stating this in addition to the premiere episode opening flashback].
Del Toro revealed that he’s directed an entire segment in episode four introducing “one of his favorite characters” – a Mexican wrestler (lucha libre). He described the segment as a “black and white Mexican western”.
- When pressed to choose one defining television show as an influence to The Strain, Del Toro stated that for this show it would be The Night Stalker. “Some kids want to be Superman; I wanted to be Kolchak… That was the first spark that influenced The Strain.”
- If del Toro could cross over any show/film with The Strain – it would be a “Justin Bieber concert… Or maybe just Justin Bieber without the concert.”
In terms of footage, Carlton Cuse premiered the below fun Comic Con exclusive video chronicling what evil Nazi vampire Thomas (Richard Sammel) does as a side job…