Janet Montgomery and Shane West Interview: ‘Salem’ Season 3 and Hell on Earth

Salem stars Shane West and Janet Montgomery
Shane West and Janet Montgomery from ‘Salem’ at Comic Con 2016.

The third season of WGN America’s creepy yet riveting horror series Salem will premiere during Halloween week, with Janet Montgomery and Shane West back in starring roles. Montgomery (‘Mary Sibley’) and West (‘John Alden’) were among the Salem cast members who appeared at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con to talk about the series and the upcoming season during a Q&A with fans. They also paired up for interviews in support of season three, discussing what viewers can expect and how the show will take an even darker tone.

Janet Montgomery and Shane West Interview:

Is this next season going to deal a lot with the child and maybe recover the family unit?

Shane West: “Still dealing with the child.”

Janet Montgomery: “I think the idea of the family unit is squashed at the end of season two. I think really season three is all about surviving on your own because you really don’t know who you can trust and who is still alive out there.”

Does it get even darker?

Shane West: “Oh yeah.”

Janet Montgomery: “Yes. I think it gets even darker and the world gets bigger. The whole concept of the season is hell on earth and I think that’s why it becomes such a frightening place. The characters will now have these relationships with each other, the either don’t know that that person is still alive or they just can’t trust that person. It becomes a sort of interesting dog-eat-dog world.”

Shane West: “It’s kind of everyone against each other. The witches sects are split. The devil, our son, is basically bringing hell to earth to really take over humanity rather than just trying to keep witchcraft alive. There’s a lot of internal fights as well between the good guys and the bad guys, if you put it that way. Oliver (Bell), who plays our son, plays the devil this year and really just knocked it out of the park. Helluva job this year, and he killed it.”

Janet Montgomery: “We got really lucky to have actually managed to cast someone who looks a lot like you and is a great actor. He’s grown with the show. He had a lot of responsibility this coming season and he is amazing.”

Why do you think we’re still fascinated by that time period and witches?

Janet Montgomery: “I think, especially that period in history, there’s so little we actually know and it was such an interesting time because of the whole new world, people coming in, people didn’t know what Native Americans were, we didn’t know about all the countries of the world, and so I think there’s a certain amount of fear and unknown about that.”

Shane West: “You don’t know what’s around you – wildlife, wild animals. People fighting constantly. And that’s where I think a lot of superstition, witchcraft, anything was definitely believable back then because it was the fear of the unknown.”

Janet Montgomery: “And I think witches are still appealable because everyone loves magic. I think there’s something quite sexy about witches as well. There’s some connection to the earth and moon, and I think people find that interesting.”

How has life on the set evolved from season one to season three?

Janet Montgomery: “We all joke around a lot more now. I used to be really serious all the time, and now I go around laughing a lot which is really nice. Because we all know our parts so well, we know the world that I feel like we get to have jokes in between takes.”

Shane West: “Absolutely. And I think that comes with practice, it comes with thankfully fans watching the show to keep us going. Season one was for me, and I’ve done TV series including this one where it’s always been tough because you’re trying to figure out what you are, how everyone is, and trying to put everyone together. And I think we had more of a serious environment in season one in just trying to get things down.”

Janet Montgomery: “You don’t know what it’s going to look like, if the show’s good, if people are going to like it, so there’s a lot more pressure the first season. And then the third season you get to really have fun with it.”

Shane West: “You start to hope you can have scenes with…Like, she and I get to work together all the time, but you hope to have scenes with other people that you realize you never had. I guess that gives away something, but there’s a main character that I don’t even work with this coming year which is just a weird feeling to think that I didn’t even have a walk-by – or they walked by. Nothing.”

Janet Montgomery: “Me too!”

Shane West: “You had that too?”

Janet Montgomery: “I wonder if it’s the same character.”

(They whisper the name to each other.)

Shane West: “Yes! Exact same character. Okay. So we have the same character. That’s great. We see them on the set every day, but we just never had them in a scene.”

It seems like you’re going to encounter characters who appeared dead. Who would be the hardest to face if they would come back?

Janet Montgomery: “Who do I think is dead though? I don’t think Mary really thinks anyone is dead because she’s dead and then she comes back. I don’t think she’d be surprised at anyone. I think she’d be probably frightened to see Lucy Lawless again because she’s a much more powerful witch. She doesn’t even really know what in the end happened with her.”

Shane West: “By opening up this season to include hell as a true entity, as a character on the call sheet, you’re almost not surprised to see who might be dead that might come back. I don’t think they could be. For a moment, for a weird moment, maybe Countess Marburg. I would say for John, Petrus because he did kill him. But Petrus continues to come back so there’s no real…I don’t know if it’s really a surprise. We’ve introduce so many wacky, enigmatic, and crazy characters that it’s just not a surprise anymore. It’s more entertaining. It’s more exciting.”

Are there any unlikely partnerships we’ll see in the next season?

Shane West: “I have a pretty unlikely partnership.”

Janet Montgomery: “Me too. By the end of the season Cotton and I end up living in the same house together, so that’s a very interesting [partnership]. We start working together but during that he doesn’t know if he can trust me. So, yeah, he knows now that I killed his father so I’ve manipulated Cotton so much it’s interesting to kind of see how he feels about the idea of working with me.”

Watch the full Shane West and Janet Montgomery interview: