Showtime's Penny Dreadful will continue its exploration of classic horror literature with season 3 in 2016, promising some famous new characters and an expanded role for a fan-favorite guest actress. Grammy and Tony-winner Patti LuPone appeared in season 2 as the Cut-Wife, and has just been signed on as a series regular for season 3, but it won't be as the same character.
Taking a nod from Doctor Who (which has done it countless times, including with current Doctor Peter Capaldi), the actress turned a guest role as one character into a regular role as someone else entirely. Four other performers will also join the literary drama in the coming season, including Robert Louis Stevenson's most famous creation.
Eva Green's Vanessa Ives will likely get the most screen time with LuPone, as the stage and screen veteran will play Dr. Seward, a therapist with an unconventional treatment plan. Joining her as a new series regular is Wes Studi (Hell on Wheels), who portrays Native American Kaetenay. The most iconic new role, however, belongs to Shazad Latif (Spooks) as he breathes life into Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll - it remains to be seen if he will also tackle his alter ego of Mr. Hyde. The remaining new guest stars include Jessica Barden (Hannah), as a new follower for Billie Piper's Lily and Reeve Carney's Dorian Gray, Samuel Barnett (John Adams) as Seward's secretary, and Christian Camargo (House of Cards) as a zoologist who befriends Vanessa.
The last time LuPone starred as a series regular on television was when she played the matriarch on the iconic Life Goes On - the 1989-93 series was the first to feature an actor with Down syndrome (Chris Burke) in a major role. Since then, the singer and actress has dazzled fans from the Broadway stage to the big and small screens, earning accolades and multiple awards, including induction in the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2006. Recently, she had a memorable stint on FX's American Horror Story, where she proved she has the chops to go toe to toe with the supernatural.
The cast expansion is part of a deliberate move by the show's creator, John Logan, who told The Hollywood Reporter:
"Season three is a real change of pace for us, which is good. We can get out of the alleys and cobblestone bars of Victorian London and see a bit more of the world. Essentially there's a pull bringing these characters together, and it's supernatural, partly romantic, partly shared destiny."
The expanded scope and addition of Jekyll (and presumably Hyde) could offer fans a new jumping-on point for the dense and addictive show. Down slightly to just over half a million viewers on average for its second season, Dreadful could use something to bolster its viewership beyond its passionate core. Most series in a declining pattern suffer diminished returns with each season, which could quickly push Dreadful into cancellation territory.
If the plan is to get people talking about all the classic characters from early British and Irish horror literature in hopes of expanding viewership, why stop with Jekyll and Hyde? Perhaps it's time to announce H.G. Wells' Martian invasion a la The War of the Worlds. Or even expand beyond the isles and explore Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, or the works of Edgar Allan Poe stateside. Penny Dreadful could totally pull a Once Upon a Time and just stack the series with more and more new characters from popular and well-known classic works. We need Charles Dickens' ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future to haunt Dr. Frankenstein one cold winter's night.
Penny Dreadful will air in 2016 on Showtime.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter