During our interview with Damien series creator/writer/executive producer Glen Mazzara and actor Scott Wilson, Mazzara prepared us for the upcoming episodes of the A&E horror series with the warning that the episodes are going to get much darker as season one goes on. Airing on Mondays at 10pm ET/PT, Damien is a sequel to the classic horror film The Omen and centers around Damien Thorn (played by Bradley James) who is destined to be the Antichrist. With season one heading to its midpoint, Mazzara and Wilson discussed what’s in store for the addictive series while at the 2016 WonderCon in downtown Los Angeles.
Glen Mazzara and Scott Wilson Interview:
Scott, how easy was it for you to say yes to reuniting with Glen?
Scott Wilson: “It just took the suggestion that he wanted me and then I just wouldn’t let it go.”
Is Damien in denial right now?
Glen Mazzara: “I think he’s doing two things at this point in the season. He’s in denial and he’s trying to find out what’s true, so there’s a bit of investigation. He’s looking for answers.”
Do you think he’ll be able to accept it once he figures out the answers?
Glen Mazzara: “Pretty soon in the show he starts to realize that he has to sooner or later deal with the supernatural element in his life. That’s coming up very quickly and you know it is about Damien is the Antichrist. He has the task of bringing about the apocalypse. That is the story we’re telling. I think he’s going kicking and screaming down into hell, so it’s a matter of making that journey as interesting and as complex and surprising as possible.”
What are some of the challenges of creating an anti-hero who people can root for even though he’s destined to do something horrible?
Glen Mazzara: “Well, you know, I think it’s about injecting humanity into a character that people expect to be evil. You know I think there’s a version of this in which there’s a very arch character. I think a lot of people are expecting that. We flipped that on its head. So it is a matter of people realizing that is still the story we’re telling. […]He’s starting to realize that there’s this dark energy around him that has a mind of its own, and Bradley James does a great job of injecting the humanity into the character and yet we have to make sure he’s always taking one step down that path.”
Is it hard to come up with new death scenes that are terrifying and realistic?
Glen Mazzara: “I think it’s a matter of keeping those deaths grounded so it feels like it’s something that could happen to anybody at some point. We had a sinkhole death in the first episode. A couple of miles away from where we filmed that in Toronto, some guy was in a car and he ended up in a sinkhole and they had to get him out through the sunroof. When we were filming the escalator death there was another girl in Toronto, she got her scarf caught in an escalator. She wasn’t hurt or anything. So, these things, these odd accidents do happen and I think it’s a matter of keeping those grounded instead of having a very elaborate 50 things have to line up. You just sort of keep it oddly grounded and it resonates because that escalator death, I’ll admit I was very surprised at how people responded to that. I just thought it was a good horror gag. But a lot of people were saying, ‘This is a fear of mine. I can’t believe you did this.’ My sister called and said, ‘Remember that time you got trapped on an escalator?’ I remember there was something and I got caught in one, and I seemed to have blocked that myself. That one struck a chord.”
Speaking of things that don’t always happen, you actually included a dog being killed and that doesn’t always happen in series TV. They tend to shy away from that.
Glen Mazzara: “I’ve killed dogs on screen before. I wrote an episode of The Shield in which Dutch choked a cat and then when PETA was – I think it was PETA or some group had listed us as the most violent show toward animals, this is on The Shield. I said, ‘I can’t talk to you right now because we’re shooting a scene in which I’m shooting a dog.’ So, I’ve done this before.
What’s interesting about that scene, if I could say, was we shot one of the Rottweilers and there was something about that detective that he was able to do that. So he kind of has his own story to play, which I think people kind of glossed over. And we didn’t really kill the dog, you know. [Laughing] It was a stunt dog.”
Are you getting any backlash from the Catholic Church?
Glen Mazzara: “Not that I know of. I think, to be honest, when I have spoken to press in particular, I think people are interested that we’re taking the theology and the Catholic Church seriously. You know, one of our writers her husband is a theologian and he called and said, ‘All of the stuff that you’re saying is actually what is in the Bible. This is how the Bible was written.’ So we spent a lot of time trying to get that right. I think as long as we’re respectful and we’re talking about real issues, I feel good about the material. Maybe that’s why we haven’t heard anything. But we’re taking it seriously. We’re not making fun of anybody.”
Were you given much of a backstory?
Scott Wilson: “He’s certainly a power broker. He knows the corridors of power and he’s going to try to control the situation, which is a pretty dangerous place to put yourself. Trying to control the devil seems to be a pretty dangerous thing. But it’s interesting to me to see how Damien is really the person who has more morality than anyone in the show right now. Don’t you think? So, it’s interesting. But [my character] and Ann Rutledge are two people who are trying to get involved and control the situation. It’ll be interesting to see how their relationship evolves.”
What can you say about the rest of the season?
Glen Mazzara: “It’s been interesting to put the show out there and see how people are responding to it. I feel that they’re, like I was saying with the escalator death or when some of these moments stick out, the show’s going to get darker. It gets really dark. We have some episodes coming up that I think are going to push the limit. It’ll be interesting to see how people are going to respond to it. I don’t think it ever gets gratuitous or anything but we go into some pretty dark territory. It’ll be interesting to see how the middle of the season plays because that stuff is really taking risks. And then the end of the season is just a freight train. It just races. I’m really, really proud of the finale. I think people will be pleased when they see how it all comes together and all of the questions people have about Damien I think will be answered. I’m excited for people to see it.”
But yet there’s still plenty of story for season two?
Glen Mazzara: [Laughing] “Oh yeah. He’s got a whole world to destroy. That’s complicated. That’ll take a few seasons. He might take it apart bit by bit but he’ll get there.”
Watch the full interview with Glen Mazzara and Scott Wilson on Damien season one: