A new vampire hunter has arisen. The Syfy channel is preparing to launch a new Van Helsing TV series that we can only hope will be nothing like Hugh Jackman’s feature film outing, and so far it’s keeping its distance. Its major nuance is gender-swapping the title character, and the network today announced the female lead: Kelly Overton.
Fans of the Sean Bean-led TV series Legend will recognize the actress as Nina Brenner, while True Blood fans know her as Alcide’s alpha werewolf love interest in Season 5. Now, she’ll rise up against a new era of vampers as Vanessa Helsing. In a “post-Rising landscape,” as it’s called (meaning after the vampires have risen to power), this woman must lead mankind in a war for survival.
After tweeting about the casting, Overton released the first poster for the series featuring Vanessa facing the post-apocalyptic world head on.
Joining Overton are Jonathan Scarfe and Christopher Heyerdahl (both of Hell on Wheels), Paul Johansson (Mad Men), David Cubitt (Ray Donovan), and Tim Guinee (Homeland). Scarfe will play Axel, described as a “career Marine with unwavering devotion and loyalty to both duty and his wards, despite years of isolation and endless vampire attacks.” Heyerdahl, who has experience playing a vampire in The Twilight Saga, will play a survivor of the vampire Rising along with Cubitt. Johansson and Guinee will be on Team Vamp — Dimitri (Johansson) is the “patient and calculating” leader of the vampers who was turned before the Rising, while Ted (Guinee) is a blood-sucking foot soldier who grapples with Vanessa.
Writer Neil LaBute will act as showrunner on Van Helsing, comprised of 13 hourlong episodes. The show is set to begin production in Vancouver, BC on February 22 ahead of its fall premiere, and Michael Nankin (Hell on Wheels), Jason Priestley (Haven), David Frazee (Orphan Black), Simon Barry (Continuum), and Amanda Tapping (The Magicians) are all set to direct episodes.
Syfy has stepped up its game and quality in its new slate of original content, which includes The Magicians (recently renewed for a second season). It also greenlit sci-fi series Incorporated, set in a future where corporations have unlimited power, and Prototype, about three friends who discover an invention that challenges the nature of quantum physics. I’m jonesing for the network to continue this streak of good fortune.