SAN DIEGO – When we last left “Penny Dreadful's” most eligible bachelors things weren't necessarily coming up roses.
Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) had transformed into a werewolf type creature (although it turns out he isn't aware of what happens to him when he “blacks out” and goes wild) and suffered through the death of his lover, Brona Croft (Billie Piper).
Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) had his heart unceremoniously broken by Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) and found himself once more immortal and alone.
Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) couldn't kill the Creature (Rory Kinnear) he created that was threatening to destroy everyone around him. Instead, he took Ms. Croft's life earlier than her terminal sickness would have allowed so that he could properly transform her into a “bride” for his monstrous creation.
These gentlemen of questionable morals and virtues are three reasons why John Logan's Showtime series is so fascinating. They are also three reasons why it has a passionate and growing fan base. The biggest reason, of course, is Ms. Green's shockingly impressive performance over the course of the first season. Unfortunately, the “Sin City: A Dame to Kill” star couldn't make it to Comic-Con for either “Dreadful” or the aforementioned Weinstein Company movie. Hartnett, Carney and Treadaway? They were more than happy to make the trek to San Diego and to spend some time talking to HitFix about the best moments of season 1 and what they do and don't know about season 2.
Hartnett, who is best known for his roles in “Pearl Harbor” and “Black Hawk Down” met with Logan before committing to the series. While they had discussions about Ethan he admits he was still slightly in the dark during production.
“I knew the major points of where Ethan was going to end up at the end of the season, but I didn't' know how he was going to get there and I think those things have changed,” Hartnett says. “The way we played the first couple of episodes has informed how the character has moved and will definitely inform the second season. That's what I think is more organic about making television as opposed to film. We're not privy to the end. We don't know. There is no good ending in TV. You either get cancelled or you get killed off.”
Again, Ethan was revealed to be some sort of werewolf in the season finale, but also showed signs of magical powers in “Possession” when he brings Ms. Ives (Green) back from the brink.
“I could just tell that this character was wearing many masks,” Hartnett says of Ethan. “I don't know where he'll end up. I fought for this at the very beginning — to have him wearing a mustache over his mustache in the introduction of the character. This idea that he's multiple layers of hiding going on there. We'll find out more and more as time goes on. I have a pretty good idea of where he'll be next season and we don't know what he'll end up being eventually. That's what is great about this character. You don't hear that much about him the first few episodes and then it becomes more and more apparent that there is a lot of layers in the onions.”
As for Carney, he's also unclear about where Logan will take his own character in season two, but he's more than fine with it. He notes, “I feel I know Dorian as well as I know myself which is saying a lot and a little at the same time, I guess. We don't' know what choices we're going to make. I know who I am at my core. I know who Dorian is at his core. It is an advantage to not play things that are so far in the future because we don't always know.”
As for the famous painting that has been hidden to viewers, Carney has often been staring at something during his character's “deep thoughts” moments. And, if not, he's using his imagination. The show's version of the infamous portrait is still to be determined it seems.
“Most of the time I was imagining what I believed to be the accurate manifestation of whatever would be on the painting on that point,” Carney reveals. “But they did have a version that I saw at one point and we did shoot it, but I'm not sure if we're going to save it for later or maybe we'll reshoot it with a different version of the painting.”
Treadaway has delivered a remarkable performance as a very conflicted, lonely and immoral Frankenstein. He finds the original source material key to why the character's story has been retold again and again for over 100 years.
“The idea of this genius young man whose obsessed with poetry and science and medicine,” Treadaway says. “Sort of a double edged sword going on. A sort of fascinating world he has created for himself with an obsessive compulsive brain. He's this driven beast really and all muddled with a lot of guilt and shame. Lots of contrasts within him so I think he's trying to figure it all out well.”
Our conversation covered significantly more ground about the show, which you can watch in the video embedded at the top of this post, but I did have to ask Hartnett about working with Green in that aforementioned “Possession.” Green is absolutely incredible in the episode and I asked whether the two actors spent extra time rehearsing it.
“We did about two nights of rehearsals after we finished filming [our regularly scheduled scenes],” Hartnett says. “It was about an hour here, an hour there. But, on the day we had to just had to see where the scene took us. Eva really came prepared to really take that character as far as she could at that time. She was looking quite vicious by the end of it. I applaud her commitment to it from the beginning.”
Hartnett adds, “She and John had known each other for a long time and I think she came to this series knowing more than us which is good. She definitely did some great work in that scene for sure.”
For more on this epic interview watch the video version at the top of this post.
“Penny Dreadful” will return sometime in 2015.