‘The Strain’ Season 2: Corey Stoll Interview on Eph’s Drinking, the Wig, and Creepy Makeup

Corey Stoll The Strain Season 2 Interview
Corey Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather in ‘The Strain’ Season 2 Episode 5 (Photo by Michael Gibson /
Copyright 2015, FX Networks)

Corey Stoll can currently be seen on the big screen in Marvel’s Ant-Man and on television playing Dr. Ephraim Goodweather in the second season of FX’s horror series, The Strain. As vampires wreak havoc on New Yorkers, Eph and Dr. Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) have been working on finding a biological agent to kill the infected. During a conference call to talk about the current season airing on Sunday nights at 10pm ET/PT, Stoll talked about the change in how Eph is approaching wiping out vampires this season and the dramatic change in appearance that took place in episode five.

Corey Stoll The Strain Season Two Q&A:

In the season two premiere, Eph told Fet that he’s not a very good vampire killer so he’s going to go back to what he knows. What’s driving him at this point? Is it really vengeance against the Master and all of the vampires or is it really just to try and redeem himself in the eyes of the CDC and the people that put him out to pasture because they thought he wasn’t valid in what he was trying to tell them?

Corey Stoll: “I think it’s really both. I think obviously it’s personal now that Kelly has turned and is actively trying to turn Zach, but I think just his personality is such, too, that he’s won at everything pretty much in his life up till now. Now he’s in a situation where he’s lost more in the last week than he has in his entire life. So he’s always been a very alpha guy and very Type A. He’s been knocked down numerous pegs and is admitting such but he still can’t let go on either front, so it’s personal but it’s also professional.”

The majority of your roles are more reality-based than this scenario on The Strain. How has it been as an actor for you to operate in this world, especially one created by Guillermo del Toro where anything can really happen?

Corey Stoll: “It’s an interesting challenge and it’s one where I think Carlton [Cuse] and I at the beginning of season two felt the need to sort of adjust a little bit because so much of what the show is about is about the tone and the look and the style and the feel of it which is unique. There are other vampire shows and other vampire movies out there, but Guillermo brings something unique and so trying to find that right balance to be in the same show I think it’s a pretty good challenge with this show where the stakes are incredibly high but it’s not the same world that we live in, and there’s also a real, sort of a wicked sense of humor that runs throughout the whole thing. I think in this season there’s a lot of conversations between Carlton and myself about how to have me participate in that sense of humor because I think the danger is often to fall into melodrama. It’s sort of about being in that same world where these stakes are incredibly high, but you have to sort of keep one part of your tongue in your cheek a little bit.”

When Eph threw his former boss off a train, did he not have a choice or did he make the choice to kill him?

Corey Stoll: “No, he didn’t. He didn’t. It was really an [instinctive] move to not get hit and before he knew what was happening, he had killed him. Now it was in his best interest probably to kill him but it’s still obviously a very big deal. It’s his first human kill. No, he did not intend to kill him.”

Now that he crossed that line will this open up a door to a darker Eph, a guy who’s willing to do more and cross the line a little bit more easily?

Corey Stoll: “Yeah, I think you can say that. The first time he killed anybody intentionally he was being attacked and that was sort of purely defensive. As the first season went on, he became more inured to killing to the point where he doesn’t really sort of flinch killing people who are completely turned.

Then he crossed the line, again, at the beginning of this season experimenting on freshly turned people. And then this is another one, and then sort of the ratchet that keeps pushing him past these lines that he never thought he would cross. But yeah, it definitely from that point on to the rest of the season, he is in a different place, morally.”

There was a lot made of “Wig Gate.” Are you kind of relieved that it’s behind you now and were surprised at all the attention it got while it did?

Corey Stoll: “Yes, I’m relieved and I spoke about this at the TCAs that it was, just from the sense that it was a distraction for the audience, it’s unfortunate. And there’s an unfortunate bargain that every actor has to make…they don’t have to make, but often make is that the more you work, the more recognizable you are. That can be helpful in getting you more work but it’s detrimental to your job as an actor because you’re less able to disappear into the role.

I can see why someone like Johnny Depp has gotten so enamored of really intense hair and makeup for his roles because when you get that famous it can sort of be the only way to really do your job, just sort of become somebody else. So that’s an unfortunate thing that people’s ability to see past the image, it was limited here. So, yeah, it’s a relief to have that not be an issue in this particular project.”

Eph’s drinking has increased. Can we expect to see that affecting how he handles the whole situation? Will that play a big role?

Corey Stoll: “Yeah, definitely. He does not sober up the rest of the season. He was never the best fighter in the world. But, no, he’s a little easier and a little bit more handicapped.”

Can you talk about the makeup on the show and has anything ever really grossed you out?

Corey Stoll: “There were a few things in the beginning in the first season, there was like a bashed in head and a couple bashed in heads and the autopsy. In this season there seems to be a little bit of, at least from my feelings, this is my exposure to it, a little bit of a break from that.

Just in terms of my exposure to the makeup, it’s an amazing thing to see on a daily basis. You come in at 6am in the morning on a Monday and the makeup people have been there for hours already churning out this army of vampires who all have their own unique level of transformation and different degrees of turning into vampires. It’s really an incredible level of artistry and industry.”

This season Eph has been a bit removed from the actual fighting. Do you expect him to fight more over the remainder of the season and do you miss doing all the fight scenes at all?

Corey Stoll: “In terms of in total between the two seasons, it’s about the same. In the first bunch of episodes Eph is taking a much more…he’s using biochemistry to fight the Strigoi. Especially like that fight scene that I had with Barnes was actually one of the more – I think a lot of it was actually cut, but it was one of the more involved fights that I’ve had in either season. Definitely moving forward there’s more fighting.”

The Strain Season 2 Interviews: