Swamp Thing was poised to be one of the strongest assets in the growing DC Universe arsenal. Created by Gary Dauberman and Mark Verheiden, and executive produced by James Wan, the series packed some Hollywood and horror heavyweights behind the scenes for the series adaptation of the beloved DC title. But production was suddenly and unexpectedly halted after 10 of the planned 13 episodes, and in an even more surprising twist, the show was canceled after just one episode — on the heels of overwhelmingly positive reception from fans and critics alike (you can read Vinnie’s glowing review here.)
The news seemed to surprise everyone involved, sending fans looking for an explanation, and while there are still no answers as to why Swamp Thing got the ax, series star Derek Mears stopped by Collider’s horror podcast The Witching Hour and opened up a bit about his reaction to the shocking cancellation.
“It was such a heartbreaker to find out after our first episode that we got canceled for the second season, but all we’ve heard up until that point was how amazing everything was. And everyone’s going, “We have a big hit on our hands. This is crazy.” … So it’s a weird nebulous space that we’re all in now because we don’t know officially why that would happen, or why they cancelled it. Even if you are going to cancel it, wouldn’t you wait until later on until to see how it plays with fans before? So, something’s going on somewhere.
Mears also discussed what it was like finding out that the series was being cut from 13 to 10 episodes in the middle of filming.
“As opposed to having a guest star or it being on a feature, you know your full character arc, and you’re planning. With this, I’m still planning my character arc [while filming], but I don’t know the total end, because it’s still coming. It’s kind of conveyor belt of scripts where I’m shooting 1.04 while 1.05, I’m getting them soft memorized, getting prepared, and just kind of keeps coming and keeps coming, so you’re kind of speculating where your arc is going to be or where you’re going. It was so crazy. We were on [episode] 10 when we got the call, going like, “Yeah, so we’re getting cut to 10 from 13,” and we’re like, “What?!” Also reading the script for 11 going, “No!”
That meant that everyone on the project had to hustle to change course and make sure they delivered a satisfying finale with the 10 episodes they had. Fortunately, Mears says they pulled it off.
I was worried at first, because we had a week or so — a week or two weeks to re-do everything and execute it so it all makes sense, and I was worried, going I don’t know how we’re going to get this all together, because we’ve been laying so many beautiful puzzle pieces, and the complexity these writers are doing is just … what a gift. What an absolute gift to be able to perform with, and seeing what they did, and them get together and just work sleepless nights putting it all together, and handing out the script for the new ending, and going like, “Oh my god. This works. I don’t know how you guys did this. You guys are magicians. I am on board for this. I understand where it’s going and whatnot.” I was just so happy, but I was, honestly, worried, because also knowing the sacrifices the cast and crew made to be there, and for each other.
Mears reinforced how hard everyone worked on the series — “the blood, sweat, and tears are literal,” he said — and how that team effort paid off in the end product.
There’s stuff that went down, and people leaning on each other as a team, and for myself, I go, that to me is the most important thing where it doesn’t matter if you’re the guy in the editing room and the crazy late hours with no one around you editing the show, if you’re working in the mold department to make like an extra Swamp Thing ear or something going you’re a cog in this giant machine. Your fingerprint is a part of this. We’re all together.
I’m very proud of what we did, but also very saddened by the almost the sense of lack of respect. We have a brand new baby we worked so hard on, and having someone like slit their throat and go, “Here’s the baby,” and going like, “Oh, you get no more baby after this” Why would you do that?
All told, Mears was keen to point out that he’s still extremely proud of the series they created, and having the opportunity to realize the material on-screen — not to mention the incredible experience he had on set.
“Yeah, we get a 10 hour movie, which is great, and is something that … I think there’s elements that we want as fans, and that we executed, and I feel that we’ve pulled off, and it’s better to do that than have done nothing at all. Who knows. Maybe something will switch somewhere, if something will flip, and we can all get together again. But I tell you, it’s one of the best experiences I have had, and set the bar really high for working together with a group of people.
As for the possibility of the series getting picked up somewhere else, Mears says he doesn’t know if it’s an option, but regardless, he’s determined to stay positive about it.
I have my good days and my bad days. I’m not a saint at all. Similar to Swamp Thing, I need to strive for that balance — so all the stuff that goes down with the show going like man, we got to be together. I got to work with some of the most talented people in the industry, and it got captured on camera, and people are enjoying it, and hearing that it’s moving people, that’s all you could wish for. Like I said before, if everything ends now, it’s been a great run, so no regrets.