Josh Hartnett is well known for his work on the silver screen, but this spring he’s coming to the small screen for Showtime’s new horror-thriller “Penny Dreadful.” Sitting down with Zap2it to discuss this new piece, Hartnett tells us that it was the creators that drew him to the project.
“It’s purely about the people. The people and the script,” says Hartnett. “John Logan is such a talented writer, Sam Mendes is such a talented director and when I read the scripts I just couldn’t put them down. I feel like it has a chance to be something unique. That coupled with the fact that it’s such a good character — I couldn’t turn it down.”
In “Penny Dreadful,” Hartnett plays Ethan Chandler, an American in Victorian London who meets a mysterious woman and gets sucked into a world of exciting and terrifying things.
“You can’t know too much about Ethan at the beginning, it’ll take away from the fun,” Hartnett says with a laugh. “But he’s an American in London, he’s working on a Wild West Show. He meets Vanessa Ives (Eva Green, pictured above) and she asks him to meet her at a specific address that night, and he shows up and some things go down that are very intriguing.”
As Ethan gets pulled further into Ives’ world, part of what makes “Penny Dreadful” so captivating is the production value — the costumes, the sets, the lighting, every aspect of it is “off the charts,” says Hartnett, adding, “There were more beautiful shots on this show for the first two episodes than I’ve seen on most of the movies I’ve worked on.”
He also says that Dublin, where they film the series, “substitutes for Victorian London better than the actual London does” because Dublin is “a lot less built up” than present-day London. Hartnett says the row houses and great little cobblestone alleyways make you feel as if you are actually in Victorian London and not a television set. He also says that the beautiful locations also add to the creepiness — even for the actors.
“Every once in a while something will send a chill up
your spine, but it’s only the things that are more suggestive of horror,
rather than gory horror, like walking down a secluded alleyway that’s
lit perfectly. That can send a chill down my spine,” he says, agreeing that it has plenty of horror elements to scare the viewers. But when asked if the show has a good vs. evil feel to it and whether or not there are heroes and villains, Hartnett takes a pause.
“That’s a good question,” he says after a moment. “Yes and no. There are definitely villains, but some of those villains might end up being heroes. It’s not clear-cut. There are some forces at play, but it’s not clear about whether things are evil or good. It doesn’t lay it out just that way.”
“Penny Dreadful” premieres Sunday (May 11) at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.