Hemlock Grove, Netflix’s hit horror series about families of vampires (or rather, Upir) and werewoves that collide in a small Pennsylvania town, has just returned for its second season. And with it comes its two leading men — poor gypsy werewolf (or specifically, roma) Peter Rumancek, played by Landon Liboiron (pictured above, on the left), and Roman Godfrey, Upir heir to his family’s fortune (on the right above). Nerdist recently chatted with both men about the new episodes, eating candy leeches, and where they’d like to take their characters in the show’s third season. Find out what they had to tell me below.
Nerdist: What can you tell us about the journey your characters take in this season of Hemlock Grove?
Bill Skarsgard: Roman had his big transformation in the first season, and now he’s a fully matured Upir, which comes with a nasty appetite for blood. He doesn’t want to be this thing, so it’s a struggle of not wanting to be something that you are and maybe something that you’re destined to be. He turned eighteen, so he’s the CEO of this multibillion dollar company, which he’s taking very seriously, wanting to walk in his dad’s footsteps to be this entrepreneur and businessman. The relationship between Peter and Roman is not in a very good place because of Peter leaving him at a time when Roman desperately needed him and no one else could have saved him but Peter.
Landon Liboiron: Peter is still mourning the death of Lisa and doing everything he can to stay away from Hemlock Grove, but due to circumstance and mystic powers he’s drawn back to Hemlock Grove, and you see him dealing with this new power that he has to transform off the full moon. Slowly he starts having dreams about this new big bad evil that’s looming over Hemlock Grove and he feels that it’s his responsibility to understand what it is and to save these victims from this Big Bad, and it ultimately leads to him having to face what he did to Roman, and then the journey sets forth.
N: What might the Big Bad bring this season?
LL: You’ve seen in the trailers and some of the tweets, the white mask. That’s a part of it.
BS: The season starts with a guy in a white mask blowing up a house and making it look like an accident, but it real life it’s just coldblooded murder. You learn that they’re specifically targeting kids.
LL: The dreams that Peter and Roman start having are sort of puzzle pieces to these murders.
BS: Yeah, they see into the future these events happening before they are. And they start to realize that maybe they should act on these dreams to prevent these people, or whatever they are… All the while dealing with their own demons. That’s kind of the big evil that’s looming in Hemlock Grove.
N: Were your performances impacted by the show’s new emphasis on practical rather than digital effects?
BB: It’s a question for Len more than me because the transformation is one of the more elaborate prosthetics. Just watching the new transformation this year, it looks so much better. It’s hard to watch him peel his skin off. Most of that is prosthetics. I’m a big fan of trying to make as much as you possibly can on the day rather than adding it with CGI.
LL: With the transformation they made an actual model of my head with a wolf’s snout coming out of it. Then they superimpose that on to me, so it actually looks like it’s ripping out of me. There’s cool stuff like that this year instead of just the digital wolf nose coming out of me. I’ve worn a lot of prosthetics for the transformation too. But Bill had to deal with a lot of the shit he had to eat and a lot of the blood and everything. That was all real.
BS: Yeah, all of those were edible… things. Things that are edible but maybe not the tastiest things. Especially candy leeches. By themselves they taste like candy, but they’re stuck on an old hairy man’s body, and I had to peel them off of his skin. They were not glued. They were just put on with some syrup to make them stick. While I was doing that, I just prayed to God that I didn’t get a little piece of his chest hair in my mouth. Luckily, that didn’t happen. But there was a lot of eating, and a lot of blood too. Most of that is also prosthetics. They built this gushing wound, and they had a little hose going up that they hid pretty well but also did touches in CGI. Essentially I just held my mouth where the wound was and then counted down three, two, one… There was this air pressure and gallons of blood just gushed out. It was fun, because there was something to play with when there’s blood gushing from it – that enjoyment that he feels from it.
N: Where is Roman’s relationship with Olivia, Famke Janssen’s character, heading this season?
BS: Famke’s character has a complete side story with what Olivia’s going through, and Roman doesn’t have any part of it. So the scenes that we had were kind of back and forth insults. Me saying the most hateful things you can say to a mother.
N: Does it culminate by season’s end?
BS: No, that relationship is still very much left open. Because she’s also dealing with her relationship with Roman. So she actually makes decisions based on that relationship that might play out really bad for Roman.
N: Can you talk about the new actress playing Shelly?
BS: The new Shelly is the best improvement this year in terms of any character. Her arc is very tragic and moving and interesting. And Madeline Martin is an amazing actress. She just brings this whole new dimension that was needed for Shelly even in the first season, but there were a lot of problems with getting that character right. She just brought so much life, and a lot of her scenes really moved me.
N: Moving beyond this season, where would you like to see your characters go?
BS: There’s a lot to explore. I would want to see more of Roman and Peter’s friendship and what weird situations they could get into with each other. I would like to see Roman at a gypsy party. I would like to see Peter have to dress in a suit at a business meeting. Because they come from such different worlds it would be fun to put the two characters out of their comfort zones. That’d be fun to play with.
LL: There’s also a lot of cast members that I didn’t get to work with. I would love to work with Madeleine Martin and rekindle that Shelly-Peter relationship. Whereas there isn’t that Shelly-Peter dynamic in season 2. I’ve never had a scene with Joel de la Fuente, who plays Dr. Pryce. He’s such a talented actor.
BS: The cast itself is… We’ve been so lucky having this little home away from home, this little family of wonderful creative people that we’ve gotten really close with. They’ve become really dear to us.
N: Were you guys horror fans growing up?
BS: I never liked movies that were gory for the sake of being gory, but I’ve always been a fan of movies that make you uncomfortable, like The Shining. Those very disturbing psychologically twisted things. I think our show is like a lot of David Lynch movies that are just disturbing. They’re not really horror movies, but they’re just disturbing.
LL: Almost offbeat too.
BS: Terrifying but not traditional horror. There’s just something that’s about them that’s very trippy and psychadelic. At the same time there, they make you wander and think after you see them. They stick with you. Suspense thrillers too. I remember when I was fourteen watching Rear Window. I remember watching that in Sweden, and it was so uncomfortable. I wasn’t scared of a monster, I was just terrified because of the eerie tension throughout the whole film. There was a quote I read, where Hitchcock said the scary part isn’t the shock itself but the anticipation in knowing that the shock will come. It’s this dragging out where you know something really bad is going to come. Fear is knowing that the shock will come.
N: In summary – if there’s one word you could use to describe this season of Hemlock Grove what would it be?
BS: Yeah, rabid.
LL: It’s messy, it’s crazy, it’s energetic, it’s monstrous. It’s fanatical. [Laughs.]
BS: The new season is a lot messier. But it’s also very trippy and very strange and unpredictable. The cliffhanger at the end of the season is gonna blow people’s minds.
LL: It’s such a pivot.
N: Thank you for your time, gentlemen.
BS: Our pleasure! Thanks for watching.
LL: Thank you!
Hemlock Grove Season 2 is now available in its entirety on Netflix.