If you are a fan of the 2007 Swedish horror film Let the Right One In, you probably have heard of the new Showtime series inspired by the novel and film. When I first heard of it some red flags were raised, that is until I saw that it would star Demián Bichir. Long story show I saw the first episode and was infected. Shortly after I had the opportunity to speak with Demián, co-star Madison Taylor Baez much of the cast and showrunner Andrew Hinderaker at NYCC.
The conversations were fascinating, so much so that I could not turn down the opportunity to do something I rarely do, double-dip – conducting multiple interviews with the same person about the same subject. I am glad I did because the result was a wonderfully insightful conversation that dug beyond the surface to really explore what went into the series. (Note the full video interview below is long but well worth the watch. I included chapters for those who are not immortal.)
As seen in the series, life can be unpredictable. Hinderaker’s career started in the Chicago theater community. A play he wrote that became an unexpected “bit of hit” while being performed in a very small theater. After its success he did not take the obvious advice to head straight to LA to pursue his career. Instead, Hinderaker continued his studies. After John Logan read the play script it lead to him working on Penny Dreadful where he fell in love with writing to television.
“I’ve had a numbers along the way,” Hinderaker explains, “if you believe this career is a life calling, as it has been for me, you’re not just running a marathon, you’re running an ultra-marathon.” He compares the experience he has gained from the years between Chicago theatre, grad school, and Penny Dreadful as a laboratory that supplemented everything had learned to that point, prepping him to showrun this series. “I discovered with Let the Right One In” and this extraordinary privilege of running a show that is ambitious in its storytelling and ambitious to produce, that I have relied on every sing tool that is my tool box.”
When presented with the opportunity of working on Let the Right One In it was an offer he could not refuse at least not without rewatching it. He adored the film and explained his reaction after revisiting it, “It spoke to me even more personally and profoundly. It’s this incredibly poetic horror story.”
The series adds much more depth to anything the novel or film had originally touched upon while retaining the spirit of them both. It hit Hinderaker in new ways, especially as an “image about addiction.” He continued, “It felt like I was watching a story about so many things, but central among those elements, a creature who is addicted to blood; whose addiction is really not just destroying their lives but lives of everyone who is around Ellie and trying to protect her.”
Another bold creative decision found in the series is the relationship of the central characters Mark and Eleanor (Demián Bichir and Madison Taylor Baez). Ultimately, it feels like a more natural fit, allowing a much wider audience to be in the shoes of the protagonist. “We reframed it as that caretaker, not as a pedophile who is in love with Ellie, but as Eleanor’s father who was trying to care for his daughter and who was clinging to the hope that he might one day be able to give his daughter his life back.”
When it comes to Demián and Madison, Hinderaker has nothing but praise and in dishing it out he gave a very thorough insight into what it is that makes these roles so special. “Honestly, it is so hard for me to imagine anyone else playing theses roles,” he explained. “I am awe of them as people, as artists, and the work they do in this show. The role that both of them play is impossibly complex. For Demián it has the appearance of an everyman in that it is fundamentally a story of a father trying to take care of and protect his child. What makes the role so complex and difficult to play is that you have to believe 100% that this character is capable of the both the beautiful and monstrous acts that he commits in the name of his daughter. Demián is an absolute powerhouse.” Hinderaker continued, “At the same time, what makes the role special is that somehow through the darkness of the ten plus years that they have been enduring this reality, he has managed to keep the flame of humanity and hope alive for his daughter.”
The praise and insight did not end there, Hinderaker spoke about Baez’s spectacular and challenging work on the series. “Speaking of that multiplicity… Madison, I mean, oh my God! What’s so challenging about the role of Eleanor is that she is neither 12 nor 22, she is a 12 year-old who has been twelve for over ten years. That is an extremely complex needle to thread because you have to be a character you are simultaneously scared for and scared of. Her ability to embody all that is vulnerable and all that is terrifying about the character is astonishing.”
Let the Right One In crosses or at the very least blurs genre lines. That had been a day one goal. Hinderaker explained that his “grandest ambition” for the show was for it “to be one of the most terrifying shows on TV and one of the most moving.” No small task. But if you have seen the latest episode, there is definitely a case for just that.
Watch the full interview below. It is quite in-depth while avoiding details spoilers. We touch upon the “emotionally packed” episode seven (which will tear your heart out), adding to vampire lore, the use of Guns ’n’ Roses, Easter eggs and much more.
If you have already watched Hinderaker passion for the series, its cast, characters, and themes will make you appreciate the series even more. If you new to Let the Right One In, I recommend you sink your teeth into it. The first seven episodes of the series are now steaming while episodes 8, 9, and 10 will premiere each Sunday going forward on Showtime.