WonderCon 2013: HEMLOCK GROVE Panel Recap Featuring Eli Roth and Famke Janssen

     March 29, 2013


The cast and crew of Hemlock Grove, the second offering in Netflix’s slate of original shows, was on hand this weekend to give a glimpse into the mysteries of the twisted town. The show, produced by Eli Roth and based on Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name, puts a spin on the current trend of werewolves and vampires, replacing love triangles with body parts and unconsummated longing with raunchy, bloody sex.

The story picks up in the wake of a grisly murder.  The new boy in town Peter Rumancek, gypsy trailer trash and rumored werewolf, comes under suspicion for the crime. Peter finds an unlikely ally in Roman Godfrey, golden boy of the wealthy and influential Godfrey estate, Hemlock Grove’s resident wealthy philanthropists in the model of the Carnegies.  Together the pair attempts to solve the mystery of the murder before the killer can strike again. Staring Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, Lili Taylor, Bill Skarsgard, Landon Liboiron, Penelope Mitchell, Freya Tingley, Kandyse McClure, and Aaron DouglasHemlock Grove premieres April 19th on Netflix. Hit the jump for the full panel recap.

The panel opened with a trailer of the upcoming show, the cast and crew were then introduced for a Q&A. You can check out a sneak peek of Peter’s werewolf transformation (which was talked about at length) below, followed by highlights from the panel:

  • hemlock-groveEli Roth has always been interested in the TV medium, but found it difficult to reconcile his horror writing tendencies, wherein he kills a character at every opportunity, and TV writing which demands the return of beloved characters week to week.
  • Roth was drawn to the source material because of the story’s roots in monster mythology.
  • Brian McGreevy and writer/producer Lee Shipman have been talking about the possibility of a televised version of the story since they knew each other in grad school.
  • Bill Skarsgard described Roman and Peter’s relationship as a bond formed by the mutual respect of outsiders.
  • Fans of the novel can expect some small surprises throughout the show and one “enormous surprise”.
  • Before the start of filming, Daran Sarafian, who directed six episodes of the show, talked extensively about the visual style and themes of the show with Eli Roth. Roth told Sarafian to think of it as not looking at the rock, but what’s underneath, finding the hidden decay and ruin that lives beneath the beauty of the town.
  • The writers approached the show with the idea of binge watching in mind, crafting the series as one long 13 hour story, rather than 13 one-hour stories.
  • Because the episodes will be airing all at once, the writers were in a unique position to have the majority of the episodes scripted before they started filming.
  • The cast and creators cite Game of Thrones and Twin Peaks as influences on the show.
  • Though they co-starred in Battlestar Galactica for a number of years, Aaron Douglas and Kandyse McClure share their first scene together on this show.
  • hemlock-grove-imageThe creators cite one central theme of the show: outsiders finding a sense of community.
  • Sarafian, who has directed a number of TV shows including House, M.D. and CSI:NY , learned the ropes working under Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci.
  • Peter’s transformation into the wolf is a major selling point of the show. The transformation is unique to what’s been seen before on film. Roth described it as being a combination of birth and orgasm, calling it a “were-gasm”.
  • The transformation was designed by Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger. Roth considers practical effects an art form and uses practical over digital whenever possible.
  • Each episode was shot over the course of 8 days; the transformation itself would have taken 8 days on its own so they shot it bit by bit throughout the filming of the series.
  • Though parts of the series were filmed in Pittsburgh, “bureaucratic malfunctions” regarding state refunds and tax credits prevented the show from filming there in its entirety. The rest of the series was filmed in Toronto.

Hemlock Grove premieres April 19th on Netflix.