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Did you know that Dracula, Frankenstein and Dorian Grey, and many of horror’s famous tales, were all written within a decade of each other? So what exactly was going on in 1890’s? Penny Dreadful uncovers the mystery of all of these characters and goes where no TV show has gone before.
Penny Dreadful is a frightening eight-episode psychological thriller created, written, and executive produced by three-time Academy Award nominee John Logan (Hugo, The Aviator, Gladiator), and executive produced by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and Pippa Harris (Revolutionary Road). It centers on some of literature’s most terrifying characters, including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and iconic figures from the novel Dracula that are lurking in the darkest corners of Victorian London. The show weaves together these classic horror origin stories to uncover the mysteries that have shocked and tantalized us since the, well, the dawn of tim
Before you ask “who is playing Penny Dreadful?,” hold up. It’s not a who but a what. “Penny Dreadfuls were fiction publications in the 19th century,” says supervising producer Chris King. “Each week Londoners would rush out to their newsstands to get the latest story. Penny Dreadfuls were unique because they were stories of crime, the occult and the supernatural. Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracule from a Penny Dreadful story called ‘Varney, The Vampyre.’”
Starring Eva Green and Josh Hartnett, the story will focus on a mix of characters that all have something to hide. The series stars Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandle, a charming, brash man of action; Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, a force to be reckoned with; Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm, a hardened explorer on a personal quest; Reeve Carney as the confident and mesmerizing Dorian Gray; Rory Kinnear as Frankenstein’s monster “The Creature”; Harry Treadaway as Dr. Victor Frankenstein; Billie Piper as Brona Croft, an immigrant seeking to escape her dark past; and Danny Sapani as Sembene, a longtime ally of Sir Malcolm.
Here are Showtime’s character descriptions:
VANESSA IVES (starring Eva Green)
Poised, mysterious and utterly composed, Vanessa is a seductive and formidable beauty full of secrets and danger. She is keenly observant — clairvoyant even — as well as an expert medium. Her supernatural gifts are powerful and useful to those around her, particularly Sir Malcolm, but they are also a heavy burden. Her inner demons are very real to her and everyone around her, and they threaten to destroy her relationships, her sanity, and her very life.
ETHAN CHANDLER (Josh Hartnett)
A charming American who finds himself trapped in the darkest corners of Victorian London, Ethan’s charm and brash ways are catnip to the ladies. When Sir Malcolm enlists him to help in a personal quest, Ethan meets Brona Croft, a beautiful local with a mysterious past. But behind Ethan’s bright eyes lurk dark secrets. He is running from something, and his past threatens to overtake him at every turn.
SIR MALCOLM MURRAY (Timothy Dalton)
A hardened African explorer on a deeply personal quest, Sir Malcolm has nonetheless paid a heavy price for his exciting career. Although his stately home is filled with marvelous souvenirs of his travels, it is devoid of family and loved ones. With Vanessa’s help, he is determined to right the wrongs of his past, but his toughest journey lies ahead.
VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN (Harry Treadaway)
More Romantic poet than surgeon, Dr. Frankenstein is a tender, gentle soul who is fascinated by the mysteries of life and death. He has dedicated himself to researching what makes something live, and has sacrificed everything for his scientific pursuit. But he is playing with fire, and his research pays off in shocking ways with devastating consequence.
DORIAN GRAY (Reeve Carney)
Dorian Gray is a fabulously wealthy young gentleman who is almost unnerving in his beauty. His skin seems to radiate a golden glow of intoxicating youth and promise. A recklessly abandoned aesthete, he has a devil-may-care attitude that borders on dangerous. Nothing seems to faze him, nor are any risks too great. In fact, he is unnaturally drawn to them.
BRONA CROFT (Billie Piper)
Brona is a poor Irish immigrant to Victorian London trying to escape a dark and sordid past. The Gaelic meaning of her name is “sadness,” yet she remains lovely, spirited, and erotically alive. She forms a bond with Ethan Chandler, who will do anything for her.
SEMBENE (Danny Sapani)
Sembene is an African man with ritual face scarring who serves as Sir Malcolm’s sentry and confidant. He has an air of mystery about him and his heroic efforts will prove invaluable to Sir Malcolm in his personal quest.
Watch Showtime’s behind-the-scenes production blog for a sneak peek:
Penny Dreadful premieres May 11 @ 10pm (EST) on Showtime (Movie Central Canada).