THE STRAIN Comic-Con Panel Recap: Guillermo del Toro and Company on the Show’s Violence; Upcoming Seasons

     July 28, 2014


With two episodes having already aired, the popularity of The Strain is undeniable.  This series, created and executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro, introduces a new take on vampire lore that is not only original and interesting, but seriously terrifying.  This show is not messing around, it’s trying to scare the hell out of you.  On Sunday at Comic-Con,  FX presented a special panel and sneak peek of the third episode of The Strain, with series creators del Toro and Chuck Hogan, showrunner Carlton Cuse and cast members Corey StollDavid BradleyMia MaestroSean AstinKevin DurandJonathan HydeRichard Sammel, Natalie BrownKevin DurandMiguel GomezBen Hyland, and Jack Kesy.

During the panel they talked about what it was like adapting the book into a television series, the look of the vampires, where del Toro came up with the idea of the worms and what the casting process for the show was like.  Hit the jump for The Strain Comic-Con Panel recap.

the-strain-comic-con-panel-recap-sean-astinFirst they showed the third episode in the series, “Gone Smooth.”  If there is one thing this show has really dedicated itself to, it’s not pulling punches.  It holds nothing back. I am not going to go into anything spoilery, but there are at least two holy shit moments that really got an audience reaction.  See our episode recap for more.

Panel Highlights

  • After the panel they brought out the producers and cast. Corey Stoll came out wearing a ridiculous mullet wig and the producers joked that this would be Goodweather’s new look.
  • They talked a lot about what it was like trying to adapt the book into a series.  Del Toro talked about how he was obsessed with the lore as a child and he liked the idea of the monster vampire.  He also talked about his collaboration with Chuck Hogan, and coming to Carlton Cuse to be showrunner for The Strain.  They had all gotten tired of the idea of the sexy, sympathetic vampire and that they wanted to create one that was not only scary, but that didn’t care for humanity in the least.
  • They are very happy to be doing this as a television series, the producers didn’t think it could work as a movie.  “There is more freedom in television.”  They don’t have to chop up or hold anything back from the story.  They also stated that this is a close-ended series; it will only be 5 seasons long and they have every season already planned out.
  • the-strain-comic-con-panel-recap-corey-stollThe casting process was very easy and the interesting part was actually watching the actors grow into and own their parts.  They had Stoll in mind for the part since they saw him in Midnight in Paris and they feel lucky that he was onboard.  Del Toro thought that Maestro would be a good counterpart to play of Stoll.  They felt lucky getting Bradley, since his character is in his 70s and could still kick ass.  Finding an actor that actually fit was amazing and he epitomizes what they wanted in the part.  Astin’s name came up and the producers thought it was amazing, del Toro added that he thought it would be “funny to have the best sidekick of all time be the betrayer.”
  • Del Toro said that it was important to have Latin characters in the show, and for Gomez’s character, Gus, he wanted to create a character that the audience would really grow to love. He really wanted to create a Latin character that would start out like every stereotypical character for the part, but that would grow and become a hero and one of the most important characters in the show.  Bradley was glad he gets to play such a complex hero, that he’s not like the usual character would be.  The character is a badass with a good heart, and he’s not messing around.  The producers think that they found the perfect cast for all the characters, that they really bring them to the screen and embody them in a really profound way.  The only cast member they hesitated on was Hyland, because they thought he would be perfect, but he had played Stoll’s son on House of Cards, they didn’t know if they should cast him in a similar role in two consecutive shows.  In the end they went for it.
  • Stoll talked about how he likes playing a character that already has an end, because you can go for it.  “You don’t have to save anything in the tank, you can really go all out.”  Each of the actors talked about what it was like to play their character.  Astin said he was excited to be one of the heroes of the show, but he wonders if the audience can forgive him in his part in getting the Master to New York.  Kesy especially likes his character’s transformation in the series, that he’s living out his destiny.  Hyde spoke about how “Palmer is pleasantly single-minded,” he doesn’t think that Palmer thinks himself the bad, he just thinks that it’s time for vampires to rule the world.
  • They talked a little bit about the sets and shooting in the subway tunnels in Toronto. The actors described it as gruesome, “we spend a lot of time in some incredibly dank tunnels.”  The producers talked about buying sets off other shows. “That show is not doing so well,” they joked, “let’s see what they have.”
  • the-strain-comic-con-panel-recap-cdcWhen asked where the idea for the parasite worm that creates the vampire del Toro said that his wife is a Epidemiologist and that through her he learned about all the different parasites that live in the human body.  He finds them creepy and he always put what creeps him out into his work
  • They didn’t give away very much about what was to come next, but the actors did talk about how blown away they are by some of the creatures that we are going to see coming up.  They love that many of the monsters in The Strain are practical, it makes it so much easier because  they don’t have to pretend to know how scary the monster is, they can see it and it’s terrifying.
  • They wrapped up by talking about how supportive FX has been, allowing them to create the show they want to.  They felt the freedom the tweak the story from to book and add in elements and scenes that hadn’t made it to the book or were cut.  This also helps fill out the show.  The pilot episode covers the first 150 pages of the first book, so they like the freedom to add more to it.  Del Toro and Hogan feel like the story they made for TV is the best parts of the story they told in the books.  Cuse also talked about how thankful he is to have Hogan in the writer’s room so he can pick his brain for information and understand more of what went into the writing of the original scene.

Audience Q&A

  • the-strain-comic-con-panel-recap-stollDel Toro was asked how “hands on” he is going to be on the show.  They answer is “very. “ All the dailies come to him and he keeps “shockingly” up on watching those, and he’s very hands-on when it comes to visual effects, special effects and set design.  “I become a nuisance as much as I can.”
  • Someone mentioned that del Toro originally pitched the show to FOX a while ago before he wrote the book with Hogan, and del Toro talked about how he went through many meetings with FOX before in one of them they asked him to make it a comedy and he left.  He met Hogan soon after and they wrote two books and when it was a bestseller they were getting requests for the rights all the time that they turned them down so that they could be “as brutal as they wanted” when they finished writing the series.

The Strain airs Sundays at 10pm on FX.


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