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Showtime’s upcoming psychosexual literary horror mash-up Penny Dreadful is one of the more promising projects currently in preproduction stages, given the brains behind it are Academy Award-nominee John Logan and Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes. The network announced at the Television Critics Association’s Summer 2013 Press Tour that two of the series’ leads have been cast, and while you probably never could have predicted it, Eva Green and Josh Hartnett have signed on. Catching one actress in the uphill swing of her career and one actor whose commercial appeal has waned. If only we’d all have caught the wacky ass Bunraku in theaters!
According to ComingSoon, Green will star as Vanessa Ives, a Victorian London seductress whose beauty is only matched by her secret knowledge, and Hartnett will be playing a charming American, Ethan Chandler, for whom London becomes a waking nightmare. You see, this is a reimagining of the city as if the characters from horror novels were an actual part of the history, and the show’s more normal character have to deal with all the monstrous beings. We’ll get Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein and his creature, as well as characters from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Had this horror mishmash been a theatrical release that Hartnett and Green joined, I don’t think I’d be quite as intrigued, but Showtime has a way of taking things to the extreme that I like.
It was announced last month that the first two episodes of this eight-episode series will be directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, the Spanish director whose talent for awe-inspiring visuals was apparent in both of his features, 2007’s densely atmospheric horror The Orphanage and 2012’s harrowing tsunami flick The Impossible. To have a director like that working with Logan, who wrote and created the show (while Mendes is executive producing). Logan and Mendes worked together on Skyfall and will be doing so again for the next Bond film. That said, it doesn’t seem to be the kind of project that will gather an awards collection. But hey, look at what American Horror Story has been doing. Maybe Hartnett can find his inner Jessica Lange for this.
Hartnett has taken it slow since 2007’s 30 Days of Night, appearing in films like Girl Walks Into a Bar. He’ll next star in Roland Joffé’s time-and-continent-crossing romantic adventure Singularity and in Brian Horiuchi’s troubled couples drama Parts Per Billion.
Green, no stranger to James Bond herself, was in last year’s disappointing Dark Shadows and is making herself very familiar with CGI filmmaking with upcoming roles in Noam Murro’s 300: Rise of an Empire and the Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller sequel Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For.
Looking to fill the horror void that Dexter will leave once this season is over, Showtime will begin production on Penny Dreadful this fall, with plans to air the show some time in 2014.