The little boy from “The Omen” is all grown up and preparing to wreak new havoc, on the new A&E series “Damien.”
The drama follows the now 30-year-old Damien Thorn (played by Bradley James), a war photographer who begins to realize something is very wrong with him. It’s a direct sequel to the 1976 film, and ignores the events of the subsequent sequels and remakes.
“Fans of the movie are going to hopefully be excited about the spin we’re putting on an iconic character,” showrunner Glen Mazzara told TheWrap. “We’re really paying attention to aspects of that film and following them through, 25 years later.”
As Damien begins to fight or embrace his true destiny as the devil incarnate, the people around him and maybe even the world at large comes into danger.
Below, Mazzara talks about the religious aspects of the show, plans to take it global, and how closely the religious elements of the show mirror the texts on which they were based.
What are fans of the original movie going to take from the show and what will new fans take from it?
Fans of the movie are going to hopefully be excited about the spin we’re putting on an iconic character. We’re really paying attention to aspects of that film and following them through, 25 years later. We have people Damien around him who want to control him. We have characters his father met and now we’re going to find out new things about those characters. There’s a lot of ways we honor that original film, and yet we make the show our own. We take that as the setting and the tone and we take a lot from the original film, but then we get up and running and become our own thing. I think that the audience who may not have seen that film, they don’t need to see it to understand what’s going on. They’ll understand that Damien is a man who’s grown up and he has this dark cloud hanging over him, he’s been running his whole life and whatever information they need from that first film, we give them in the first few episodes. It’s not a story that you’ll be lost in. They’ll appreciate, hopefully, the character work, we have great work by terrific actors. It’s a scary shows, there’s thrills,
Can you talk about casting Bradley James?
Bradley sent in a tape. We had looked at literally hundreds of actors. Lots of talented people, but there was something specific I wanted. I wanted a certain amount of likeability and charm but with an undercurrent of mischief. That’s the word I haven’t used anywhere else! There was something about Bradley that was both charming and mischievous, and something that just gave you the hint of something darker underneath. And yet also vulnerable. It was a very complex character and somehow he just effortlessly showed all of these different layers, in just a taped audition. We brought him in to read, he was shooting “iZombie” and he came in from Vancouver, we shook hands and I was completely convinced it was him. He’s done a great job of bringing that character to life.
The first episode seems to only scratch the surface of the supernatural. Will it get weirder going forward?
Yes! Things do get weirder. I think what you end up seeing throughout the season is that the evil forces around Damien are growing, and becoming more belligerent, more mysterious, more powerful, as Damien becomes more aware of the situation around him. We were very careful to develop the horror in a particular way. You’ll see that the horror does develop episode by episode, so that was very interesting, that was something I hadn’t been able to do on another show. I’ve never seen that. The type of horror, the thrills, the filmmaking that captures that horror, it all develops, in a way that it would over a feature film. I consider Season 1 to be sort of a feature film in 10 segments, not so much 10 individual episodes. It does keep building and building in a surprising way.
How much does the show get into the religious themes of such a story and how sound are the religious themes?
That’s a good question. I’m confident the religious themes are very sound. We did a lot of work making sure that they would be and that these are not just cartoonish characters or stereotypes. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school for 12 years, my uncle’s a priest, and I’ve done a lot of reading on Christian theology and the formation of the early church and church fathers. This is something I’ve been passionate about for a long time. So we worked all that into the show, in an organic way. It’s never heavy-handed or didactic, we’re not writing with any sort of agenda to put forward one way of thought or another. But what we want is the characters have these deeply-held beliefs, and these beliefs need to be real and really motivate their actions. We want to see those characters question those beliefs because they start to see extraordinary things happening around them. That’s interesting to me. For it to play real and authentic and for us to give the gravitas to our characters, I think that stuff needs to be as sound as possible. HOpefully we’ve been able to do that.
The show is about the battle of Damien’s soul, but him embracing his evil side could have global or apocalyptic ramifications. Is the plan to stay with him or grow the show?
There’s definite plans to grow the show and the characters and the conspiracies. Part of what we did was… I really wanted to focus on the Damien character and who was immediately around him. But in Episode 2 we start building the world around him, Episode 3, Episode 4. We’re constantly in concentric circles are spilling out around him. We want to give the sense that he’s a figure that is poised to be on the world stage. He’s a war photographer, he’s already been around the world, he has relationships around the world. as those things from his past come into play, that’s going to be very interesting. That’s part of the reason he’s a war photographer. He’s a wanderer. He’s someone who is at home nowhere and yet everywhere.
“Damien” premieres at 10 p.m. ET on Monday, March 7 on A&E.