The Netflix original series ‘Hemlock Grove’ now officially has two seasons out for the viewing pleasure of anyone with a taste for horror and a couple days to spare glued to their computers. The unique format that Netflix provides for its shows, with each season being released all at once, provides not only a distinctive viewing experience but an unmatched creative process for those involved in making the show. Season two of ‘Hemlock Grove’ premiered last Friday, and now that we have all had ample time to binge-watch through the full ten episodes, executive producer Eli Roth and ‘Hemlock’ stars Madeleine Martin and Madeline Brewer sat down to discuss the many twists and turns of season two.
Warning: Major spoilers ahead if you have not seen season two of 'Hemlock Grove' yet!
TVRage: This season of ‘Hemlock’ brought a lot more gore to the table than season one. Did Netflix give you free reign to be as creative with the “messy moments” of the show as you wanted, or did you have to be reined in a little?
Eli Roth: Netflix was really amazing. One of the benefits of season two is you could see what moments people really reacted to in season one. I thought season one was really gory and at the time people were really freaking out about that werewolf transformation in the second episode. There was a lot of blood and we could tell that people really, really wanted those big moments in the show and Netflix was just fantastic. This was the network where I said, “I want to have a show where the vampire, a kid who has a craving for blood and the power of hypnosis, is going to follow a cheerleader on her period into the bathroom, hypnotise her, and go down on her,” and Netflix said, “Great, yeah! Absolutely, let’s do it!” In season two they wanted more moments like that. That being said, we also had amazing directors come in like Floria Sigismondi, Spencer Susser and Peter Cornwell. We had really great directors that loved the show and all wanted to out-do what was done in the first season. They each wanted their episode to be “the one,” which is what you want. Netflix not only gave us free reign, and encouraged us, but they wanted those moments and loved those moments. For us those moments only come from character. If you just have a bunch of gratuitous gore moments I think the show is boring. There is a moment at the beginning of one of the episodes when Roman is draining Miranda’s blood in the dream sequence and the blood just goes on, and on, and on, and on, and it becomes beautiful and operatic. It wasn’t all about just coming up with more gore, it all came from the character. We are so lucky that we had both Madeline Brewer and Madeleine Martin come and join the show this season. We really thought that they brought talent to these characters in a way that we really needed, they brought such depth to the show. Shelley is sort of the voice of the audience in season one and Miranda becomes the voice in season two. Everything that we did had to come from a story point, otherwise it just wouldn’t work.
TVRage: I agree! I felt that Shelley’s storyline was developed much more in this season, and that was both exciting and heartbreaking to watch. By the end of the final episode both Shelley and Miranda have major realizations followed by devastating moments where they are left not knowing what to do.
Roth: What is great is that when you have such terrific actors like Madeleine Martin and Madeline Brewer you can really write for them. Madeleine Martin had a really tough job of acting and emoting under all of that makeup. She had to act a lot with just her eye and her smile, she is incredible with it. And Madeline Brewer has to play these very real, strange things, but she is the outsider. She has no idea what is going on, so the whole time she is going, “What the f--k is this?” She is almost like a viewer that is going through season two without having seen season one. I think the two of them really anchor the show in a way we really couldn’t have done last season when we were strictly following the book.
TVRage: Do you feel that the type of feedback you receive about ‘Hemlock,’ because all of the episodes are released at once on Netflix, is different than you would get from a show broadcast weekly on a regular network?
Roth: Yes, it is definitely much different. A lot of times when you create a show that goes over a long period of time you are asking your audience to commit to it week after week. Now a lot of people have such busy lives and schedules and don’t have time for that. It is hard to find an audience. For example, with ‘Breaking Bad,’ when a lot of people got into it later in the game they were calling it the “Netflix Effect” because people were able to catch up. I think that it is amazing now that nobody knows these characters one day, and the next everybody knows who they are. People love that, people want to be the first to either claim the show as amazing or to say “this show sucks”. They just want to make it through all the episodes so they can say it one way or the other. It is really fun to watch people go, “Oh my god, I can’t believe this happened,” or, “Oh my god, what did I just watch? What the hell just happened?” It is great because in season two people were a little more prepared for that. The show went on the air at 12:01 AM on Friday and nine hours later there were so many people that had watched all the episodes. It is like eating a pizza. Papa John’s shows up and you are like, “Oh, I will just have a couple of slices,” and then suddenly you have eaten ten slices of pizza and have a stomach ache. Again, we have such amazing actors like Madeline Brewer and Madeleine Martin. People knew Madeline Brewer from ‘Orange is the New Black’ and now they are seeing her do a completely different character and you suddenly get to see this incredible range. With Madeleine Martin, in a strange way, it kind of took us thirteen episodes to figure out how to film Shelley and how to make her work, but now we can really write for her because we have such a terrific actor. I find it very satisfying to be able to watch all of it unfold at once.
TVRage: Season two was really a devastating season for Shelley all around. She spent half of it a fugitive struggling to survive in the woods, and the other half being promised a better life that was then snatched away at the last second. I get a sense that there is some serious darkness ahead of Shelley in season three. Madeleine, how do you think she will move forward from these events? Do you think Shelley will finally stand up to Olivia and get revenge?
Madeleine Martin: I don’t know, but somebody needs to cut Shelley a break! I think Shelley needs a boyfriend (laughs). A boyfriend would be nice, but it would be hard to find somebody tall enough. I think it is a hard thing, you don’t really know how you could get up from all the things Shelley has gone though, or how much darker you could go. I felt terrible for Shelley.
TVRage: I think we all felt horrible for her. In the show it seems that the only true support she gets is from her brother Roman. Their relationship has remained strong since the first episode, and to see him struggle watching his sister go through these things and be helpless to do anything, added a whole other level to the sadness of the situation.
Roth: I think Madeleine did such a good job of portraying those emotions and getting the audience on her side. You just feel such empathy for Shelley, your heart breaks for her. She is so good at it, so why give her a happy scene? (Laughs) She is so good at all these emotional, tortured, pained scenes that we say, “Yeah, let’s just keep going!” It works for the poor girl.
TVRage: One of the biggest reveals of the season for me was that Miranda was being used to control the baby. Not only that, but she had been manipulated into the situation long before she even arrived in Hemlock. Madeline, did you agree with Miranda’s decision to jump off of the tower in the pinnacle moment of the last episode?
Madeline Brewer: Well, personally I didn’t really want Miranda to end it all for herself. I mean, you don’t want your character to just jump off a building and kill themselves, so I was obviously struggling. I can understand where Miranda is coming from, though. We actually had an entire conversation to try and gage the level of Miranda’s “crazy” throughout episode ten. Where she is at the beginning has to be a little bit of crazy and at the end she is just bat-shit crazy (laughs). She is really struggling at the end of that episode, she feels so guilty. She has so much love for this baby, as if the baby was her own child, and she feels solely responsible for making this baby into the monster that she becomes. She can kill people just by looking at them! So I didn’t want Miranda to kill herself, but as you see towards the end, you’re not really sure where that actually ends up. I felt that she was doing what she thought she had to do to make the situation right.
TVRage: It was all left very open ended in the last moments of the final episode, there is definitely room for Miranda to explain the motives behind her actions and what she was thinking in that moment.
Brewer: Yeah, absolutely!
TVRage: Season two of ‘Hemlock Grove’ brought forward a lot more questions than it answered, particularly in the finale episode. I feel like there is a lot of potential for a third season to grow from these open ends. Will a third season answer a lot of these questions or should fans prepare to be left in the dark about some things for a while?
Roth: Well, of course! There are a lot of things we have left open for a third season. As long as people keep watching the show and it keeps getting downloads a third season will be more and more likely.
If you are a horror fan, and you haven’t checked out ‘Hemlock Grove,’ it is about time you head on over to your Netflix account and settle in for a weekend of gory goodness. You can stay up to date with the cast and crew from this interview by following Eli Roth on Twitter at @eliroth and Madeline Brewer at @madkbrew.