In Season 2 of the FX series The Strain, New York City is rapidly falling to an evil epidemic and, since no one seems to be coming to the rescue, it’s up to the citizens to fight for their city and their lives. Each with their own thoughts on how to solve the problem, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) are working to create a biological weapon to wipe out the creatures, Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) is searching for a secret ancient book that he hopes will reveal a possible way to kill them, and Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand) is going door to door to clear out the neighborhood buildings with the help of Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas). Meanwhile, The Master has his own plans for revenge.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Kevin Durand talked about how the story is evolving in Season 2, knowing his character much better now, why he’s flourishing in the vampocalypse, what actually scares Vasiliy Fet, that the bond between Vasiliy and Setrakian is very similar to the one Durand has with David Bradley, and whether viewers will feel more or less hopeful for the human race, by the end of the season. He also talked about the feature film Dark was the Night, which is now in select theaters and on VOD, which he thinks fans of the show will really enjoy. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: How is the story evolving in Season 2?
KEVIN DURAND: A lot of the first season, we spent following each character, and learning about the biology of the virus and how it completely changes human beings into something completely different, grotesque and scary, but oddly kind of beautiful, at the same time. That’s what Guillermo [del Toro] does. I feel like everything in the second season is just turned up, which might include that fear of losing your favorite character. It’s so damn scary. We don’t want to lose anybody. Even being in the show, I get attached to the characters. I just think the notch has been turned up on everything.
In Season 1, Vasiliy Fet showed up ready to kick some vampire ass. Do you feel like you have a better understanding of who he is, now that you’ve gotten to know him a bit more, or is he still a bit of a mystery to you?
DURAND: I’ve never gone from doing a first season of something, get to watch it, and then go to the next season. Throughout the entire season, he’s in it a lot more. So, I was really grateful that I had that opportunity to sit back, as a spectator, and watch it. I did a ton of homework on trying to figure out who he is, and the books were very informative, but I had to fill in a lot of blanks, too. So, through shooting all of the first season, and then getting to watch it and getting to hear what the fans thought, and then go in and shoot the second season, I just felt like I was really heavily armed with a lot of knowledge about who I thought this guy is now. I felt like I knew him a lot more, going into the second season. I feel really settled in him. When we wrapped, I shaved off the goatee and, all of a sudden, I was me again. And then, I started to miss the dude. I really like him. I’m so pleased, and it’s so satisfying to see, that people really like him because I like him, too.
Is it fun to play someone who really gets in there and makes decisions and calls the shots, even if they’re tough calls?
DURAND: He really is flourishing in this type of vampocalypse. I don’t know if he would ever admit it out loud, but he’s enjoying it. He really likes that he’s so needed. He has a much stronger purpose in this world that has fallen than he did before, and it’s given him more self-worth. You see him flourishing. It’s so much fun to play that. He’s enjoying killing these damn things. It’s such a pleasure to play him.
Vasiliy clearly loves killing vampires, and he has respect for the councilwoman who has rid Staten Island of any and all creatures. Does he see her gameplan as the solution to this problem? Is that how Vasiliy would solve things, if somebody asked his opinion for how things should be handled?
DURAND: He’s on the same track, just in a smaller way. He’s just going building to building, trying to make every building in his neighborhood safe, so at least we can have a place to have cover and continue to live. Most people are living in constant fear, but I don’t think Vasiliy is. He really respects her plan. It’s synonymous with what he’s doing. She just has way more people working for her.
Because Vasiliy is so un-fazed by everything that’s going on, what do you think it would take to actually scare him?
DURAND: I think we touch on that stuff this season. The stuff that actually scares him is more the personal emotions that he’s not used to. It’s not about monsters. It’s more just getting in touch with a part of him that he might not be comfortable with. Sharing his place with all of these people and developing relationships is scary to him because he’s such a lone wolf. Now, he actually has people that he cares about, like Setrakian and Dutch, and everybody that’s under his roof right now. He has this little family. He’s not just looking out for himself anymore, and that makes him uncomfortable. But, the vampires definitely don’t scare him.
Vasiliy has grown close to Setrakian, who’s also keeping secrets from everyone and is starting to act erratically. How does he feel about that?
DURAND: It’s funny, Vasiliy and Setrakian have a similar connection as Kevin and David. I really look up to him, and really love and respect him. We’re always going out to dinner. We’ve developed this bond that I think has really reverberated on screen. It’s beautiful, the way that that all panned out. I think that Vasiliy knows that Setrakian is acting erratic, but the stuff that didn’t work, like The Master would die when exposed to sunlight, affects everyone else a lot more than Vasiliy. He knows that you have to try a hundred times, and you’re going to fail. It’s about, we know that doesn’t work, so what now? There’s no one better to learn from than someone who’s been hunting them for as long as he has. He’s just such a fountain of knowledge and such a mentor for Vasiliy that he’s not as phased as the other folks. He has faith in the old fella, as I do in David. He’s such a glorious actor, and a wonderful human being. It’s such a pleasure.
In Season 1, every time this group of people stepped out of where they were hiding out, they had to fight their way through vampires, so there was not much time for any romance. But this season, it seems as though there’s a little more time to explore things like that. Does Vasiliy have actual feelings for Dutch, and what can we expect to see from their dynamic, going forward?
DURAND: It was really interesting to go through the way that he processes feelings. He’s kind of reclusive, in a lot of ways. He wants to learn everything that he possibly can to be the best exterminator in the Five Burroughs, and maybe the world. His goal is to figure out new ways to take his occupation to a new level. I don’t think he’s had a lot of serious relationships. Maybe he’s had quick run-ins with women and had his fun, but this is the first one who appeals to him. It was really interesting to see that. And Ruta Gedmintas is such an incredible actress and lovely person. We’ve come to be good friends. We all have, actually. It’s really fun to play those scenes because the writing is so good, and within the context of that writing, I think we’ve found some really profound, truthful moments that hopefully people will find compelling. It was really fun and interesting to play. You’ve got this big bear of a man who doesn’t know how to deal with his feelings. He just knows that he’s a great killer. Now, he’s being forced to look inside himself, in a way that maybe he wasn’t prepared to.
How do you think Vasiliy feels about the group of vampires killing other vampires? Is he all for anyone willing to wipe them out, or would he be suspicious of a group like that?
DURAND: I think he’s suspicious of everything and everyone, whether they’re vampires or not, but especially vampires. He’s also probably the most logical character on the show, in the sense that he can make snap decisions because the world very much is black and white to him. That’s why he did what he did to [Jim Kent] in Episode 8, as quickly as he did. He can figure out right and wrong really easily. But, he’s constantly evaluating and is willing to evolve because this is all completely new to him. So, at the end of the day, if the ultimate goal is to take down The Master, than whatever and whomever is there to make that happen, I think he’s game to give it a go.
Vasiliy clearly prefers hand-to-hand combat. How does he feel about Ephraim and Nora working to create a biological weapon to wipe out the vampire virus?
DURAND: I think that he respects it. There’s a level of kinship and respect that has evolved in the group, as they all live in the same abode. He knows what they’re doing, and he knows that Ephraim and Nora’s specialties are different than his. Whatever they can figure out to wipe these suckers out, then he’s in for it. I think he’s developed an appreciation and respect for them, and whatever gets us to a positive final result is okay with him.
By the end of Season 2, should we feel any better about where the humans stand in the war with the vampires, or will we be even more worried about how the human race could ultimately fare?
DURAND: There’s a reason to have hope, as there was at the end of the first season. You’ve got this group of very capable people who are outmatched, but I think that there’s enough there that people can get behind them because they may succeed. They may not, but that lingering hope is still there. What a ride you’re in for, this season. It all depends on the perspective of the viewer. Some people are optimistic while some people are pessimistic. Some people will be like, “Nah, those guys are screwed. This is over.” And some people will be like, “No, I know they can do it.” Who knows. Hopefully, the optimistic people are right and we get to keep making the show.
You also have Dark was the Night coming out. What can you say about that?
DURAND: I have this wonderful movie opening on July 24th, called Dark was the Night. It premieres in select theaters across the country, but it’s also going to be on VOD and iTunes on the same date. If you like The Strain, this movie follows the story of a character named Paul Shields, and he’s the sheriff of this small town. He’s really deeply mourning and suffering from the death of his son, and he’s blaming himself for it. When the movie starts, this guy doesn’t even know how to tie his own shoelaces, let alone be the sheriff of this town. But people start disappearing out of this town, and everyone looks to him to save the day. It’s really a great ride. I’m so proud of this film. I just want to make everyone aware of it ‘cause I think people are really gonna dig it. It’s the closest character I’ve played to me. I usually have an accent, or I gain weight or lose weight, and I play such different people. This guy is like me, in that situation. It’s wild to see that. I’m not hiding behind anything. I truly think that it’s a really great little film, and I think people will dig it.
The Strain airs on Sunday nights on FX.