Last month, prior to the series premiere of The Strain, we had the opportunity to chat with creators Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse, where they discussed working to finally bring del Toro’s trilogy of vampire novels to the screen. The series has been well-received by critics and viewers, is currently one of the highest-rated shows on FX, and is rumored to have already been given the greenlight for a second season.
With plenty to celebrate, Guillermo del Toro and the cast of The Strain were on hand at San Diego Comic-Con to screen a new episode of the series and chat with fans and journalists. We managed to catch up with del Toro himself, along with many of the stars, and ask them a few questions about creating such a fully-realized world with a unique take on the vampire mythology. You can check out the video below, and keep reading for some of the highlights.
The Strain was originally conceived as a television series, but when del Toro struggled to find a network brave enough to pick it up, he was convinced to turn the idea into a series of novels. That was five years ago, and now del Toro has partnered with FX, a network that has long been synonymous with breaking new ground and taking risks with their programming. We asked del Toro how it felt for The Strain to finally come full circle:
“I feel happy and vindicated, both, and I feel that it was important that it saw the light as it was conceived. Fortunately, partnering on with Carlton [Cuse], we’re in the hands of someone who has done it many, many times, and we’re all working very hard toward making the best show possible. And hopefully people will agree it belongs on TV.”
The Strain has a very cinematic feel, with high contrast and vibrant colors that practically pop off the screen. We asked the prolific creator about some of the visual choices he made that provide The Strain with such a unique and distinct look:
“I’m completely in charge of supervising and approving every visual effect you see in the show – all of it. Makeup effects go through me also, and the final correction of color and cinematography goes through me on every episode. I wanted a certain uniformity of style, so directors can come and go, but there’s a unity on certain aspects of the visual design of the show. Carlton has a beautiful handle on editing and sound design, and we just make sure that the show has those values that we established in the pilot, but also goes further and further.”
But don’t just take del Toro’s word for it – we also asked some of the cast members what sets The Strain apart from other genre fare like American Horror Story or The Walking Dead:
Mia Maestro: “We have many different genres on the show. We have a lot of drama and sci-fi and horror, and then we have these monsters that are like nothing you’ve ever seen, and that comes with Guillermo’s vision. It’s really wonderful to do the show and know that Guillermo is behind us, because you know that everything will be done with the utmost detail… It’s a bit more cinematic, I would say, and our cast is quite different, it’s quite international, so it’s a unique show.”
Jonathan Hyde: “It’s glorious. You know that the effects are going to be good, I just never though they’d be quite so compelling. The sheer fabric of it is so knitted in. It’s gorgeous.”
Kevin Durand: “It’s incredible how he makes horrifying things so beautiful, you can’t help but be compelled by the aesthetic of everything. You just can’t look away.”
While each of the cast members we spoke with provided plenty of insight for their characters, the one constant that everyone seemed to agree upon was that working alongside del Toro to bring The Strain to life was an experience unlike anything else:
Jack Kesy: “For me, it’s a dream come true, and I still haven’t even wrapped my head around it. I’m excited, I’m happy, I’m grateful. He’s one of my favorite filmmakers, and it’s a great role.”
Jonathan Hyde: “It’s blissful.”
Mia Maestro: “It was amazing. It was basically a dream come true. I love Guillermo’s work, and this is the perfect project for Guillermo. He loves it, it’s his baby, he loves these characters, so to be able to portray Nora is kind of like a dream.”
Sean Astin: “The difference between Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro is that in The Strain, I got to wear shoes. Two years in New Zealand wearing hobbit feet, you notice. Your arches fall. No, I’m kidding… Your audience already knows the answer to the question, which is that they are nerds themselves. They have the same level of passion and excitement for design, for artistry, for creature effects, for story, for characters that [the fans] do. The thing that’s amazing about them is that they’ve been able to protect that part of themselves and break through to decision makers, break through to money people, break through to actors… They’ve found a way to do it where everybody wants to be a part of their world.”
The Strain airs on Sunday nights, exclusively on FX.