Guillermo del Toro Talks ‘The Strain’ TV Series; Sean Astin Joins the Cast

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The Strain Vampires Guillermo del Toro Talks The Strain TV Series; Sean Astin Joins the Cast

With his giant robots vs. giant monsters smackdown flick Pacific Rim hitting theaters this Friday, the perpetually-busy Guillermo del Toro is about to enter a remarkably prolific period, even for him. His next feature film will be the “classical gothic romance ghost story” Crimson Peak, but before that he’ll be tackling the television adaptation of The Strain trilogy, the vampire-plague novels he co-authored with celebrated crime novelist Chuck Hogan (The Town).

While previous reports have confirmed only that FX has ordered a pilot, del Toro recently spoke with Collider about the project, and it seems that the cable network appears to be backing The Strain as a full-bore series, which del Toro will be overseeing along with Lost alum Carlton Cuse.

Rather than approaching the show an episode at a time, it looks like del Toro and company are laying out the entire first season from the get-go:

“Chuck [Hogan] and I co-wrote the pilot, which I’m directing, I cast the series, and I go and rewrite and make my notes and collaborate with every single screenplay in the series.

We’re doing something that is not normal.  We created a writer’s room, [and] I’ve been there from the beginning laying out the first season, and I am involved in every one of those screenplays of the first season, which we are writing before we shoot the series.  Normally a series is shot in such a way that you’re getting the screenplay under the door the morning before you shoot the next episode.  We’re mapping the first season completely so I can be involved.  And I’ll be involved in the shooting of the first few chapters, the first probably four or five as an on-set producer, and then Crimson Peak shoots and I cannot be physically there.”

While this is indeed not the norm with most TV shows, fans should take heart that while Cuse will be responsible for showrunning duties, del Toro will remain a producer and the first season, at least, will bear his mark.

Most of the cast is already set: Corey Stoll (House of Cards) will lead the way as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, an epidemiologist and recovering alcoholic who is the first to encounter the mysterious vampire strain alongside his colleague (and sometime lover) Dr. Nora Martinez (Breaking Dawn‘s Mia Maestro).

The Strain Del Toro Guillermo del Toro Talks The Strain TV Series; Sean Astin Joins the Cast

John Hurt will portray Holocaust survivor and pawn shop owner Professor Abraham Setrakian, the “Van Helsing” type mentor whose painful personal history with the strigoi (UnDead) motivates his desperate need to protect humanity and guide the doctors in their fight against a big bad vamp, known as the The Master.

Along with Jonathan Hyde (Titanic) and Richard Stammel (Inglourious Basterds), we have word of another new addition to the cast: Carlton Cuse has tweeted that Sean Astin will join The Strain. Astin, of course, is famous for his pivotal role as Samwise Gamgee in Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings trilogy. Astin’s performance was one of the more grounded, and enjoyable, things in those films – and while there is no word on his role just yet, he’s a welcome presence.

So what does all this boil down to? We’re getting another vampire series. Unlike NBC’s upcoming Dracula or the ongoing The Vampire Diaries or True Blood, there is zero sense of bloated, melodramatic romance present in the vampires of The Strain.

Guillermo del Toro’s boundless imagination and Chuck Hogan’s hard-nosed, street-wise prose blend together to tell a bleak, uncompromising vision of a world in which a delicate balance between immortals and humans has been brutally upset by an almost all-powerful being, aided in part by megalomaniac humans addicted to what they perceive as power. FX has proven itself a home for rich, tough television, from The Shield and Rescue Me to Justified and Sons of AnarchyThe Strain just might be the antidote we need to toothless supernatural TV, and could emerge as a serious rival for The Walking Dead‘s viewers. Expect more news as details emerge.


Expect The Strain sometime in late 2013 or early 2014. Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim opens Friday, July 12, 2013.

Source: Collider & Carlton Cuse

Follow Anthony Vieira on Twitter @malaclyptic
TAGS: The Strain
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  1. How much stuff is Del Toro even working on? Crimson Peak, Strain, Justice League Dark, Haunted Mansion reboot, Pacific Rim 2 (Hopefully), Hellboy 3 (Hopefully). I’ve even heard him to be working on a Van Helsing reboot. What about the new Hulk show? I personally hope that got canned. Dudes like a master multitasker.

    • There’s also news that Guillermo del Toro and Charlie Kaufman are teaming up for Slaughterhouse-Five

    • del Toro just said that neither the Hulk television series nor Hellboy 3 are happening. I haven’t heard anything about him rebooting Van Helsing at all, and Justice League Dark is still very much in the conceptual stage. He turned in his pitch for it, and is waiting for Warner Bros. to greenlight it, which may or may not happen. It looks like he’s doing The Strain next, then Crimson Peak. After that, who knows? Personally, I hope Pacific Rim is a huge success and that gets him enough credibility to get At the Mountains of Madness going again. He has stated that he still wants to do it.

    • Yeah, he is doing a lot of things, and i think that he is going to make a show for HBO

    • Well Crimson peak and strain are confirmed but you are summing up rumourish things too. Justice league dark is maybe hapening but he is not working on it just yet because he is waiting confirmation, then pacific rim 2 is not coming that soon and hellboy 3 is still a rumour. Didn’t hear anything about Haunted mansion by the way. But yes this guy is a workaholic lol.

  2. Call me crazay but shouldn’t every tv show be planned like that? Lol

    • Agreed!

    • you would think …

  3. I was up for Crimson peak until I heard they’ve got it all sexxed up, which I don’t want to be seeing in my horror movies, so now I am not sure I will watch Crimson Peak.
    As for the Strain, whoa! Don’t french-kiss those suckers! I might give that a “peak”, er, peek, although if it is just gore for gore’s sake, I might not care much for it. I like good plots, acting, special effects, etc., but not just splatter-stuff or cheap sex stuff. Let’s give it true scary and dramatic atmosphere!

  4. So glad to see that Sean Astin is going to become part of what could be a very enjoyable television show. I feel that he is a very underused actor who does very well in the things he is in. Also loving that del Toro is now becoming somewhat of a household name.

  5. This show sounds really cool. While I enjoy Vampire Diaries and the previous Buffy and Angel TV shows, I’ve been waiting for a vampire show that doesn’t center around romantic relationships with vampires. I think it’s been done to death for now so I’m REALLY looking forward to this. So many awesome TV shows nowadays, Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy and now this? God damn! In my opinion, the quality between feature films and tv shows are really starting to blur and slowly fade away.

    • I agree. The quailty of shows are just increasing each year. I am staring to enjoy them even more so than some of the films out now. With the ones mentioned I would also include Bates Motel, Hannibal, Boardwalk Empire, Spartacus, Dexter, not to mention the potential for the upcoming SHIELD series.

      • Haven’t watched Hannibal or Boardwalk Empire but I heard great things about them though. Especially Boardwalk, I mean Michael Shannon is in it, it’s gotta be good. Shield looks like pretty cool as well, I just really hope they take advantage of the premise and stories it can have instead of having a villain a week sort of thing.

        • Hannibal is an amazing television show, the only thing is it is on NBC and they are notorious for messing up a good thing.

        • Boardwalk Empire is my favorite show on television, I cant get enough of the prohibition era

  6. The first book of The Strain was semi interesting leading up to the vampire portion. It begins like contagion with something mysterious affecting people and as usual nobody knows what it is until half way through the book and BAM full scale vampire/zombie invasion.

    The remainder is your typical cliched vampire story.

    • Yeah, The Strain books were pretty much standard. The second book didn’t even get the plot in motion much. So… a series based on that? Meh.

      • But Del Toro is making it. It’s going to be the best thing since sliced bread, LOL

  7. Please nobody take this comment as an attack on Del Toro, I am just curious about the answer. Why does Del Toro recieve so much love, he hasn’t achieved much of anything in his career. Pans Labryinth may be the gold standard for fantasy films, but both hellboy films got stuck with the cult following status, and everything else has been below average. Am i just seeing this praise within his cult fan status or is he really a director that gets that much praise for such a lukewarm career? Just curious, because I do like his work just never realized why his name is tossed around a lot on many comment sections

  8. I always imagined John Hurt for Abraham when reading the books. Yay! And I love Sean Astin. More yay!