All 10 episodes of season 2 of Netflix’s horror series, “Hemlock Grove,” will be released at 12:01 a.m. Pacific time on July 11, 2014. Meanwhile, I’m a lucky duck because not only did I get to pre-screen the first 6 episodes, but I got to visit the Toronto set of the show in February while they were shooting.
Visiting the set and meeting the actors and behind-the-scenes folks was a lot of fun, but so was watching the first part of season 2. For anyone who complained that season 1 was too slow-moving without enough action, buckle your seatbelts for season 2. It grabs you by the throat right out of the gate and doesn’t let up for a second. (Warning: If you haven’t seen season 1 yet, there are some (minor) spoilers in the paragraphs that follow.)
While in Toronto, I got to participate in a group interview with the show’s stars, Bill Skarsgard, who plays upir (a type of vampire) Roman Godfrey, and Landon Liboiron, who plays werewolf Peter Romancek. I was struck by how young and sweet they both looked in person compared to their smoldering, dangerous portrayals on the show.
Their two characters were bros in season 1 and had a falling out. Will the bromance be rekindled in season 2? You’ll have to watch to find out. But a new female character is introduced. The guys insisted that there wouldn’t be another love triangle with the two of them, but after seeing the first six episodes, I’ll just say that there’s an interesting twist with regard to their “bro” status.
Season 1 was based on Brian McGreevy‘s book with the same title, so everyone knew where the plot was going. Season 2 has been entirely made up by a team of writers. Bill said he enjoys not knowing what will happen until he gets the next script, while Landon said he finds it disconcerting.
The show is still mysterious, but it’s a little bit less enigmatic than season 1. And they’ve amped up the gross-out factor with lots of blood and gore. There are also campy moments that made me laugh out loud, as the actors delivered priceless lines with perfect deadpan delivery.
I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I can tell you that Roman is now living on his own and trying to run the Godfrey Institute as a teenage owner. He has unlimited income and has designed an interesting bachelor pad for himself. You could call it “creepy chic.”
Bill told us that it’s fun to play a character “who goes through all these extreme things in his life.”
“He’s taking his new job very seriously because I think he looks up to his dad for creating this whole thing,” Bill said.
“Roman despises his mother and also the part of himself that is like her, so he doesn’t want to be anything like her. And she still wants him to pursue his destiny of becoming this creature…. He doesn’t want to pursue his mother’s legacy … so he’s still fighting that. He wants to become a serious businessman and an entrepreneur in biotech.”
One scene used an enormous amount of fake blood. What’s it like to film scenes with so much blood and gore? “They just put a tube and this gas pressure filled with blood,” Bill explained. “The idea is I’m feeding, and as I let go, the blood starts squirting out. That was really fun shooting. It was like 3, 2, 1 and [spewing sound.]”
While the fake blood is mint-flavored, Bill said, “It’s not good at all.” There’s some other liquid that he’s told not to drink if he can help it, but “it’s okay if you do.”
For Landon’s part, he went through an epic werewolf transformation in season 1 unlike anything we’ve ever seen. I asked him what it was like to shoot a scene like that and then to watch it afterward with the CGI additions. “It’s brutal because when you’re shooting it, it’s one of those things where you don’t even know what you’re doing,” he said. “You kind of just have to plunge into it and trust that the special effects guy is doing his job and the director is doing his job and we’re all coming together to create this thing.”
As for watching the finished product, seeing himself turn into a werewolf in a particularly disgusting way, he said, “I could only watch it once.”
Season 2 has a different werewolf transformation. “If they used a slingshot last year, they’re using a catapult this year,” Landon said. “They really amped up the fun stuff.”
At least in season 2, Landon didn’t have to get naked for his transformation. His least favorite part of season 1’s transformation was the nudity part – not because he’s modest but because he was cold!
“Screw the writers, man,” he said. “They’re sitting down in California with palm trees outside the windows. They have no idea….”
“There was one shot we did where I had to be naked outside for, like a minute, and it was ridiculous, absolutely ludicrous. For people with bad kidney problems or bad back problems, there are these thermal back pads that they give us. We strap one on the back and one on the front, and they have these custom-made wife-beaters with pockets that you put these heat pads in.”
Ah, the “horrors” of shooting in Toronto. Watch for more articles from my “Hemlock Grove” set visit coming before the show’s premiere.