What if Satan’s son was walking among us right now? What would he be like? Would he be evil, or would he be seen as a good, moral man? Would he be aware that he was the Devil’s spawn; and if so, would he embrace it, or try to reject his destiny?
Something evil is about to happen on the creepy show “Damien.” <Que the operatic singers> A menacing black rottweiler aka, Hell Hound is seen in the shadows. A black bird slams to its death against the glass of a window…. SPOOKY!
It’s seven episodes into its ten episode run, and chances are you haven’t seen it yet. That’s okay. Word of how good this show is spreading, and like a plague of locusts, it’s unstoppable.
Glen Mazzara, show runner of the A&E thriller/horror TV show “Damien,” likes his horror to almost be possible. He’s worked on several shows including “The Shield” and he did two seasons on “The Walking Dead” so it’s safe to assume he knows what makes people get excited and scared at the same time.
Allie Hanley: Your show on A&E, “Damien” falls in the genre of a horror/scifi/drama based on the original film “The Omen.” It’s had a solid first start with seven character building episodes. You’ve been able to get a strong narrative going with your main character, Damien, played by Bradley James, who we assume at this point truly is the son of Satan… but is Damien truly evil?
Glen Mazzara: I think he’s fighting being truly evil; but I would say yes. Like all of us, Damien has true evil within him. You will see that evil side of him come out this season. I think it’s part of a longer arc as he continues to fight it.
Damien is the anti-Christ. He is evil. We do not plan to play games with that and we are going to embrace that.
Allie: Damien has people dying left and right all around him.
Glen: Ya, it’s a bummer <laughing>.
Allie: These deaths seem to be giving him an identity crisis. Will he be definitively learning that he is indeed the anti-Christ anytime soon? <episode 7 just aired, 3 episodes left>
Glen: Well, you know, you will just have to wait and see how that plays out. We even have twists with that arc. People have an expectation of what this show is supposed to be, but one of the things I want to put out there, is that the Anti-Christ, or The Beast, as promised in the book of Revelation is first seen as a messiah, as a savior. Not necessarily as a tyrant. So there is a step that as Damien embraces his path, -his destiny – as the evil tyrant, the anti-Christ – first people have to worship him – people have to believe he is the new messiah.
So that is a new part of the story that’s never been told. That wasn’t told in the trilogy… so he pretty much went to evil despot right away I feel in “Final Conflict.” So we are sort of fleshing out that entire story with all sorts of twists and turns that I don’t think people are expecting.
The arc people are expecting overall is of a guy who embraces his role as the anti-Christ, and the guy who tries to bring about the apocalypse, which is the story we are telling.
Allie: Going back to when this was just an idea, what was it about “The Omen,” and it’s sequels that drew you to the story possibilities?
Glen: There were two things. One, it felt somewhat plausible. It didn’t have a lot of supernatural trappings, and not a lot of special effects. It just felt like a very creepy tone of odd events taking place in our world. So I liked that. That’s the kind of horror I enjoy. Something that feels somewhat believable and gets under your skin; and why I think that’s why that movie holds up.
And also, it’s a character piece. It’s a story about Gregory Peck’s character Robert Thorn who tries to do the right thing, it ends up being the wrong thing; And he finds out that his son is the son of the devil. We’ve just taken that story and stitched it onto the Damien character himself. Damien is trying to do the right thing but no matter what he does it ends up being the wrong thing. And he learns that he is the son of the Devil, and what does he do?
We’ve just taken that character arc and put it in TV form, stitched it onto a different character. Ultimately “The Omen” was a family story, it has some heart to it. And that is where TV lives, we love and care about our characters. It just seemed like the perfect starting point for a TV series. We felt it gave us a lot to work with. As a fan of horror and that particular film I jumped at the chance.
Allie: A stand out actor on the show for me so far, has been Barbara Hershey who plays Ann Rutledge. I saw her in the movie “The Entity” when I was a kid, and that film stayed with me for many years. What is it about her that initially drew you to casting her?
Glen: Barbara was my choice for this role because she’s intelligent. She conveys power. She coveys mystery. She’s sexy. And she’s a tremendous actress and out of all the actors I’ve worked with, Barbara is a pro’s pro. She works on the material like no one I’ve seen. She really puts everything into her lines, and she’s incredibly thoughtful. I absolutely love collaborating with her. She brings so much.
She blew me away her first day on set, which is the first day she meets Damien. Her first line was something like, “You think they would be appreciative of a boy so obviously gifted.” And just the way she says that one line, she works like 5 or 6 things into that line. I never saw an actor do that before.
So once we cast her, we really wanted to write for her and give her as much complicated stuff as possible. And she just always nails it. So it’s been a pleasure to write for her and to design the character around her. We had ideas about her <the character Ann> but when she came in we were able to write directly to what she was doing.
Allie: Ann Rutledge is really struggling with solidifying her relationship with Damien… where is that heading?
Glen: Now, she does have a complicated relationship with Damien and she’s surprised by that. She’s been focused for decades on bringing the plan to fruition. Making sure he embraces the role of the anti-Christ; but now that she’s connected to him in a personal way she sees that he’s a decent guy. He has some humanity; And I think she is surprisingly affected by that; And that complicates things.
So now she has two different things going on –she has an internal conflict in which she has her mission, and that mission may or may not be right for Damien; And, how that conflict plays out you’ll see by the end of the season. We will flip over all the cards that have been dealt.
Allie: On episode three when Ann Rutledge was confronted by the man in her group that wanted to wash his hands of the plan, and later was chased by Damien through the subway, and then he dies horribly on the escalator… that was a brilliant part of the story because she didn’t wield super-natural powers but in affect she manipulated them. Will we see more of that or things along that line?
Glen: Yes, she doesn’t have any super-natural power herself but she knows there is a super natural power. She trusts, and has faith, -a religious faith in that evil power, and that it’s going to work out according to what she understands the plan is going to be. <reader… this may be a hint that what she thinks the plan is… is not what the actual plan for Damian is!>
So she is a religious figure who has faith, but it’s faith in Satan. She is also the person who takes risks, and she stirs stuff up. I think that’s what she was doing. She wasn’t only orchestrating a test for Damien, but she also wants to push Damien further down a particular path. She says in the last episode “The power wants what it wants.” And she is in service to that power.
You know, that power touched her. She had an orgasm in the end of that episode (#3 Deliverer). She has a spontaneous orgasm in his hallway, -the power touched her. In a sense, the power rewarded her for doing what she did. <See video>
So she knows this power exists, and her part is to bring Damien along, but she also realizes that when he goes to commit suicide that it’s taken a toll upon him and that’s her dilemma.
Allie: The show airs on Monday night with a lot of competition, even in the same genre, and going up against some shows on network TV that are hitting their viewership ratings out of the park. “Damien” seems to be struggling even while earning solid ratings from fans… has the network considered moving it to a better time slot, is that on the table or is there even a worry?
Glen: Ok, so obviously we would like the ratings to be higher. As far as the programming goes, that’s A&E’s call so I won’t speak for them.
What I will say is the enthusiasm of the fan base, even the fact that we have a fan base has been very gratifying.
The fans are very excited and they are invested; emotionally, they are crying at the right places, screaming at the right places, and horrified, we just had the ending on episode 7 that really shook a lot of people because it was very violent. So the audience is going along on that ride and there has been a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. I feel like the show is a success.
As an artist you try to connect emotionally with an audience. When you are sitting there at 3 AM and you are working on a scene and you think – I trust the audience is going to get this and the fans will appreciate this, when in fact you don’t even have any fans yet because you are just writing it.
I’ve been thinking about it lately. It’s sort of like when you see band that is playing in a small venue and people tell their friends “Oh my God, you gotta see this band, before they make it big!” Who knows if we will make it big, or not because there is a lot of competition out there.
I am telling the story that I wanted too. A&E and Fox are very supportive of the show. I know we have three great episodes coming up, and when people hear that it all comes together and it pays off and it’s not some disappointing cliffhanger at the end or something like that.
Everything all comes together and as word of mouth gets out there and people start binging it –because people’s viewing habits have changed, so sure would I love to have the type of rating people have on network, yeah, who wouldn’t. I do know that are fans are excited about the show, and they continue to show up, and we continue to entertain them week after week.
Allie: The show’s viewership ratings haven’t taken a dip like other shows that start off big, and then drop off. Your show is solid. Will you make it back to San Diego Comic Con?
Glen: I don’t know, but I would love too. You know we just did Wonder Con. It was so much fun to connect with fans now that the show has been out there. It’s one thing before a show airs because everyone has an expectation and stuff, but to be able to talk about people’s scenes and people’s characters it’s just that much more exciting.
Hopefully, we’ll be picked up for a season two, and we’ll be back at Comic Con. Anytime we connect with fans it’s always fun and at that point the entire season would have completed It’s run, so there will be a lot to talk about.