Coming in May from Showtime is a new drama series titled “Penny Dreadful,” written by John Logan (“The Aviator,” “Hugo”) and executive produced by “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes.
Star Josh Hartnett, who plays the brash Ethan Chandler, tells reporters at the 2014 TCA press tour panel that he joined the series simply because of the creative team behind it. “For me, the entire interest in doing the project was based on the people that were involved and being able to work with John, who’s created such interesting stories over the years in film, knowing this was his first television project,” says Hartnett.
Co-star Eva Green, who plays heroine Vanessa Ives, adds that what jumped out at her was that Logan has created such well-drawn characters. “All the characters are very complex. For me, it’s such a gift to have such a meaty role. You don’t get that very often,” says Green. “[Vanessa] is such a beautiful heroine … all the characters are very flawed, complicated and it’s just great to sink your teeth into.”
The psychosexual thriller is set in Victorian London and will combine
new characters written specifically for the series with beloved
characters from Gothic literature, like Dr. Victor Frankenstein and
Logan says his inspiration for the interweaving of his own fictional characters with legendary fictional characters came from his love of the source material and how it connects with present day.
“I read ‘Frankenstein’ again and I was very provoked by it, it’s a very disturbing book,” says Logan. “I started thinking about the themes and why are we still reading ‘Frankenstein’ 200 years after it was written? I think it’s because the monsters break my heart. Personally speaking, growing up as a gay man, before it was as socially accepted as it is now, I knew what it was to feel different, to feel alienated. The same thing that made me monstrous to some people made me who I am.”
He adds, “I read ‘Frankenstein’ and I wept, reading about the pathos and the
suffering about that poor, misunderstood, vengeful, monstrous creature. … We’re speaking to the world now, that is the
Logan also wants fans of the literature to be assured that he realizes what he’s creating and intends to honor the beloved characters and the horror genre.
“There is a reason people feel so passionately about this world, about these mysteries, about the suspense, about the horror. If I feel an obligation to anything — beyond Showtime for giving me this opportunity — it’s to all those fans like me who love this so much and deserve to be treated seriously.”
“Penny Dreadful” premieres Sunday, May 11 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. Watch two teaser trailers below.