The Strain, FX’s hit vampire drama, was recently renewed for a third season just a few episodes into its sophomore run. We sat down with the cast of the series and spoke with stars Corey Stoll, Kevin Durand, Ruta Gedmintas, and Natalie Brown to discuss their characters this season and what dark turns might be around the corner for the crew.
Since the first episode of Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse’s The Strain, it’s been clear that Ephraim Goodweather, played by Corey Stoll, is not your typical hero. The audience watched him struggle with demons — literal and figurative — last season, only to succumb to his temptations and begin drinking again. We asked Stoll where he thought Eph stood with the team now as opposed to season one? The Golden Globe nominee explained, “I think he’s not an obvious leader when he’s drinking. And the team is a lot less cohesive than it was. It seemed like in the last season, once episode eight came around and the gas station, it was sort of like, we’re a team, and it was… the rest of the season was that. And now it’s sort of splintered again. You know, we come together, and we go off, but I’m not the leader that I was sort of sold as being at the very beginning, and I’ve definitely lost a lot of people’s trust.”
Kevin Durand, who plays fan favorite Vasiliy Fet would agree, Eph is going through some changes in season two and it may be a sign of good things to come with respect to their characters’ relationship. Durand explained, “It’s interesting — Eph is cracking down, but he’s also toughening up too. So there’s a new level of respect between them, and we’re sharing a lot of similar…I don’t want to say arcs, but situations with our loved ones, and we’re getting to a place where we can talk about things. You know, not have a good cry or anything, but just give each other a pat on the back, and there’s still tension, but I think the respect for each other has definitely grown. In terms of leadership, I think everybody’s stepping up in their own way, but at the end of the day, we’re still following the old man because he knows a lot more about this than any of us, but there’s definitely a power struggle from time to time.”
Speaking of “the old man,” Fet and Setrakian appear to have developed a bond, one that is very important to Fet’s character especially. Durand elaborated, saying, “I mean, at this point, he loves Setrakian. He understands fully how much he can benefit from his years of compiling knowledge and experimenting with ways to kill them with ways to find them, and so we haven’t gone in that direction yet because I think he just wants to keep learning. He’s so incredibly meticulous with detail, and he wants to know everything, and Fet is set. Setrakian still has a lot to teach him, and it’s nice to see that with Eph and Nora. They all evolve really nicely this year.”
When it comes to relationships, Setrakian isn’t the only character who Fet is showing a fondness for this season. Dutch, played by actress Ruta Gedmintas, also appears to be getting close, a relationship that Gedmintas has enjoyed exploring. “Right at the top of the show you see Fet is teaching her how to weld some iron bars, so I had to learn that and it was pretty cool. And she’s learning how to defend herself in an apocalyptic world. Dutch doesn’t know at the beginning of Season 1 how to wield a sword or shoot a gun but she’s slowly learning how to do all of those things, hopefully with skill, but we’ll see when it comes out [in post] how good that looks,” she joked.
Gedmintas continued, revealing that fans of her character can expect some emotional growth in addition to an improvement of her physical skill. “I think you get a little bit more of a sense of fun from Dutch this season,” she says. “The instinct of Dutch is always to put up a bit of a defense and to put up a barrier against people. She’s on the defensive and she doesn’t really show herself too much, and that breaks down slowly in Season 2. You see the different relationships she has with various members of the group that you know and various other people that you don’t know. You definitely see more sides to her which has been very fun to play.”
On the scarier side, actress Natalie Brown, who plays Kelly Goodweather, described the changes that her character was undergoing, which don’t bode well for Eff or her son. And yet, she says despite Kelly’s transformation, her actions actually come from a place of caring. “She’s not human anymore,” Brown told us, “but there are emotions she is still able to feel. Again, it is longing and yearning, and I think you can still feel rage. You can feel sadness. You can feel the void of not connecting, because that’s all you want to do is feed and nourish yourself, and be with your loved ones. Those human emotions turn into vampire emotions. The feeling of human love turns into vampire need. So whether you want to still call them emotions, I think they still qualify.”
Vampires or not, it would appear that there are no clear cut “good guys” and “bad guys” on The Strain, a sentiment that Corey Stoll is all too aware of. “I mean, right off the bat, in the first few episodes of this season, Nora and myself are doing very questionable things,” he told us on the set in Toronto. “You know, in the goal of creating this bioweapon. But we’re definitely not following the Hippocratic Oath. You know, human experimentation and sh*t like that—it’s pretty ugly.”
The Strain airs new episodes Sunday night on FX.