Let The Right One In has a surprisingly deep history to sink your teeth into for being a relatively modern vampire tale. The new Showtime series is inspired by the 2008 Tomas Alfredson Swedish film and the 2004 John Ajvide Lindqvist novel, both of the same name, which both centered around a child vampire and her caretaker. Their popularity also spawned an American remake starring Chloë Grace Moretz and even a comic book series.
That’s a lot of attention for a concept that has only been around for less than two decades. All that attention comes with a good reason, because Let The Right One In is not your average vampire story – it digs deeper into what drives us as humans, asking the endlessly complex question you may not want to answer – how far would go for those you love?
In the new series which premiered recently on Showtime, showrunner Andrew Hinderaker has reimagined the horror film bringing the story from Sweden to the busy streets of New York. The child vampire, Eleanor Kane, (Madison Taylor Báez) is now under the care of her father, Mark (played by Demián Bichir) who is in search of a cure for her vampiric condition. In order to provide Eleanor with the most normal life possible, Mark must keep her fed, which requires her draining human victims of their blood.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the cast and showrunner of the series at New York Comic Con where they screened the first episode and spoke to a captive audience. The conversations were fascinating, providing insight into the series, its characters and goals, increasing my appreciation for a series that already had me under its spell. (You can watch more of our conversations below.)
Bichir explained what drew him to the role of Mark. “When I read the pilot, I saw what I needed, what I’m always looking for – solid story rich characters, beautifully written and dramatically powerful and three dimensional characters,” explained Bichir who compared the role to some pretty elite company. “I’m always looking for Shakespearean characters. This is my Hamlet. This is my Richard the Third, this is my King Lear. This is everything there. It is quite a ride.”
Showrunner Andrew Hinderaker saw the potential in reimagining this story that he was very familiar with. “I loved the novel. I loved the film, and I felt like there was an opportunity to honor all that was exciting and beautiful about it,” he said. “I also thought there was a chance to take the story in a slightly different direction by focusing on the relationship between our child vampire and her caretaker who in our series is her father. That felt like just an extraordinary opportunity to explore the question of what a parent would do for a child.”
Bringing the series to New York City was a bold choice especially since the original film took place in a snowy desolate town in Sweden, minuscule in comparison to New York. The decision was made with good reason, explained Hinderaker.
“It allows for a larger scale of storytelling. New York City offers a microcosm for this country and a microcosm for the world. When we’re exploring questions of how we treat one another, how we can save one another, or conversely, how we can prey on one another, it’s just the perfect environment to explore those themes – opening the story up and yet preserving the beautiful winter world that is essential to this story.”
The heart of the series rests on the relationship between the father and daughter. It does not take long to recognize the natural chemistry between Bichir and Baez. The young actress who took the world by storm with her amazing singing voice (do yourself a favor and check her out on Youtube) explained why she got involved in the series.
“I was a little young to watch this movie, but my parents had watched the film, and they showed me the parts that I could watch and I fell in love with it. This is also my first time doing something like this. I wanted to take a leap of faith,” said Baez.
She praised the series for taking a new approach – telling a vampire story with some bite. “The focus is more about showing the dark, partial truths, or brutal truths of being a vampire and not having the fun like Vampire Diaries, or whatever else you would see or you read. It’s a whole different genre, and a whole different way of looking at being a vampire and the struggles that everybody goes through. And I think you can learn a lot from it.”
Also in attendance at New York Comic Con were additional cast members Anika Noni Rose, Nick Stahl, Kevin Carroll, Ian Foreman, Jacob Buster and Grace Gummer. Most of their roles in the series are new to the Let The Right One In universe intertwining with the Kanes in interesting, and sometimes heartbreaking, ways.
Anika Noni Rose plays Naomi Cole, the mother of Ian Foreman’s character, Isaiah. An outcast himself, the boy happens to become Eleanor’s only friend. While it sounds nice, it is a difficult relationship to say the least. The pairs are unknowingly bonded by a tragedy that has Naomi, who is a police detective, on the trail of her son’s new friend.
Rose touched on some of the themes of the series that Hinderaker brought to the series. “I was glad to see that we were attacking it from a different angle,” expressed Rose. “What Andrew did with the premise is very interesting – to take it from a space of addiction, a space of compulsion that cannot be sated, and cannot be stopped.”
The series seemed to connect with the cast in different ways. Nick Stahl was “particularly the father daughter dynamic” which, as a father, he found “very poignant.” While Kevin Carroll mentioned it being a different experience for all viewers, “I don’t think we’re trying to manage what people will walk away with. I do think they will get challenged by watching how these characters go to the extreme for each other.”
Grace Gummer, plays Claire Logan, a doctor whose world is instantly turned upside down when she finds out her younger brother, Peter, (Jacob Buster) is a vampire. The actress mentioned the tightrope the series walks. “There’s this sort of good versus evil, the duality of being a human being. And for my character it grew to be a very morally ambiguous situation. Right off the bat it was growing and changing, tricky and complicated. I feel like she and a lot of the characters live in this sort of gray zone.”
The perspective of each character brings something fresh to the series. Buster, a vampire going through a series of unsuccessful treatments to cure him of the infliction, mentioned what he liked about the series. “This really focuses on what you lose being a vampire, instead of what you would gain,” said Buster. “On the connections between vampire and human. How you can grow from that and what you can build on top of it.”
Another take on it came from Bichir, from the point of view of anyone who ever felt like an outsider, “This is a story for everybody. Whoever has ever been rejected, somehow, in any way. Because you’re different, because you look different, or because you sound different. This is the series for you”
It is the series’ complex and layered nature that makes it so intriguing. There is much more to the series than covered here. As Hinderaker explained, “The bold aspiration of the show was to be one of the most terrifying things on TV and one of the most moving. I would invite people who love all the scares and thrills of a proper horror story, but one that at its center is a lot of emotion and love.”
For more insight into the series, be sure to watch snippets of my video interview with Bichir, Baez, Hinderaker, Glummer and Jacobs (above). More importantly certainly catch up with the series. The first two episodes are already available, with new episodes of 10-episode season premiering on Showtime every Sunday night.
And as Bichir promised, “Oh boy, you’re in for a treat – buckle up.”