Salem co-creator Adam Simon says it’s the scared people who make the scary things. The comment came after he took a look at my camera’s tabletop tripod which looks a little like a possessed octopus. “If we can get our scares into your heads, they’re not in my head anymore,” said writer/executive producer Simon. Elise Eberle, who plays Mercy Lewis on the WGN America horror series, added, “The things that do come out of your brain…should I be afraid?”
The Salem cast and executive producers were a popular draw at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con where they hosted a packed panel and sat down for roundtable interviews to provide a few hints as to what’s coming in season three. WGN America’s set a November 2nd premiere date for the third season which stars Eberle, Janet Montgomery, Shane West, Seth Gabel, and Iddo Goldberg, with Eberle, Goldberg, and Simon teaming up for interviews to discuss the series.
Elise Eberle, Iddo Goldberg, and Adam Simon Interview:
Speaking of things in Adam Simon’s brain, did he put you through torture last season?
Elise Eberle: “Season two? Oh yeah! He just knocked it out of the park with torturing me.”
Adam Simon: “Yes, but no pain, no gain.”
Elise Eberle: “Playing the burn victim, that was definitely crazy. And that was actually my real voice and I changed it. It was bizarre. And I got to eat (Iddo’s) flesh – real flesh. He’s method. It tasted exactly like turkey.”
Iddo Goldberg: (Laughing) “I ate a lot of fat! All month she kept on giving me fat at lunch. Like, ‘Hey, eat some of this.'”
Elise Eberle: “Pork belly, pork belly, pork belly.”
Are you constantly amazed by the scripts?
Elise Eberle: “Oh, totally. I sort of go like, ‘How can they go further than this?’ and then they do succeed in going even further. It’s amazing. I’m always excited to read a new script just to see where it goes. Especially with a show like this, you’re just completely (awed).”
What can you say about season three?
Adam Simon: (Laughing) “Let me say this because I’m here with my two favorite characters on the show…it’s true, from the get-go. I’ll give you a good example. When I wrote the pilot with these two characters, this character (indicating Goldberg) died in the pilot. (Elise’s) we knew was going to stick around a little bit but not a lot. It had a very small function to play. But the extraordinary performances that they each brought to that literally just transformed the trajectory of those characters and they became at the very center and lifeblood of the show. That to me was one of the greatest experiences of the whole show, so it’s been fun.”
Iddo Golberg: “Thanks for not killing me on the first episode!”
Adam Simon: “You thank me now… And then to look at the journey. I’ve just watched the pilot again for the first time in two years, three years, and to see the journey that these two characters in particular have been on… To see (Elise) being walked around with that dog mask on and to see the powerful woman that she becomes in season three. To see this desperate for love, hungry for attention girl that she was in love, dare I say, in season three is a powerful thing. To see the guy who’s getting branded, this kid – the Fornicator – committed to shame and abuse…”
Iddo Goldberg: “I get called the Fornicator by all of my friends! It’s the most bizarre thing.”
Adam Simon: “And then they say, ‘Who did you fornicate with?’ ‘Myself!’ What can I say? But then this guy becomes the conscience of Salem. And then he has to struggle in season three, I would say, with power.”
Iddo Goldberg: “Well, it’s a very easy balance to shift in the wrong direction after having power, but he’s someone who has always not necessarily wanted power, he’s just always wanted to be brave enough to have an even keel. Now his voice has been heard by people he never expected would hear him. Suddenly he’s in a position where people are expecting answers from him. It was such a fun season for me. I was asked before, ‘What does your character get to do this season?’ and my response was, ‘He gets to answer back to people. He gets to raise his voice.’ I’ve always wanted to. In the first two seasons, I always wanted to shout at people.”
Adam Simon: “And that one scene with Dollie unleashed a whole new Isaac.”
Iddo Goldberg: (Laughing) “I’d always have to take it out on a runner, someone on the crew.”
Last year you said you hoped Isaac could lead a war against the witches, so is that possible?
Iddo Goldberg: “Well, it’s sort of possible. I mean he’s definitely championing a war against what’s fair and what isn’t fair. He’s standing for the right things. A complete different side of his mission is to get revenge for the loss of Dollie. At the end of last year we spoke…every year between seasons we come to visit Brannon (Braga) and Adam in the writers room, hang around. ‘Do I die?’ We spoke about where we really wanted to go and I think we had this great chat about Dorcas’ character who Isaac saved at the end of last season from the clutch of Mercy. The idea of having him kind of repair himself and kind of have a responsibility outside of himself, and help him take himself out of his head – we wanted to repair him. We wanted to have a psychological shift to allow him to kind of step up to the plate when he was needed.”
Adam Simon: “That’s another example, and I could cite just as many on (Elise’s) side too, of what’s so exciting in television for a writer who came out of features where you kind of do it and done it and it’s done is the creative dialogue that comes out of these other artists. That was an idea that was born out of Iddo, that this girl we had had him save at the end of last season – he came up to us afterwards and said, ‘What if she’s still around? What if she just keeps following him?’ And bang! We saw a whole new side to this character. You don’t get that chance in a movie that you do over the years of a television show. Not only to have characters evolve like this, but to have their own ideas and contributions change the direction of the show.”
Iddo Goldberg: “Emma (Claire Wynn) who plays her is fantastic. We had really great fun during the season. Who would have thought that Isaac would have a sidekick?”
Watch the full Elise Eberle, Iddo Goldberg, and Adam Simon interview: