“I like weird things,” Eva Green said. “I like extremes.”
Well, if we are to assume the French actress was telling the truth, she certainly has found herself on the right show with Penny Dreadful.
Weird and extreme only begin to describe Penny Dreadful, which debuts Sunday, May 11 on The Movie Network and Movie Central in Canada, and on network-of-origin Showtime in the United States.
“I think we all have a bit of madness inside us, so it's nice to be a bit different,” said the 33-year-old Green, who is best known to North American audiences for her roles in the 2006 movie Casino Royale, the 2012 movie Dark Shadows and the TV series Camelot.
“I mean, I hope I won't play that all my life. But it's always kind of fun to play evil, I have to say. I mean, evil with some sort of humanity still.
“It's scary but human. This is a very human show. It's not just scary for the sake of it.”
Set in 1890s London, Penny Dreadful combines original characters created for the series with some of literature's most infamous characters from that era.
Consider this a SPOILER ALERT, even though it's obvious who many of those characters would be. But if they don't come immediately to mind, we're talking about the likes of Dracula, and Dorian Gray, and Dr. Victor Frankenstein, etc. They all exist together in a society pulsing with life-altering advancements, profound malevolence and supernatural interference.
“I play Vanessa Ives and she's kind of a rebel,” said Green, substantially understating it. “It's such a repressed time, the Victorian times. And so she's very hungry for life.
“All her five senses are very much alive, tingling all the time. But it's in Victorian times, so it's always the conflict inside her. It's complicated. They're conflicted people. That's what actually drew me to it.
“But Vanessa is kind of innocent at the same time. She has forces inside her that she has to deal with, that she's trying to control. That's the conflict.”
Vanessa and her cohort Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) have personal reasons for being well acquainted with the city's spooky side. They wind up hiring Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett), the American star of a second-rate travelling “wild west show,” supposedly for his sharpshooting skills and his moral ambiguity regarding violence.
“Do not be amazed by anything you see,” Sir Malcolm tells Ethan. That's good advice for viewers, too.
I've watched two episodes of Penny Dreadful, and I found it more gory and gruesome than scary. That's not to say it didn't make me jump. It did, many times. But that got a tad tiresome, actually. Startling me is not the same as scaring me.
Nevertheless, Eva Green's performance is the most convincing and frightening thing in Penny Dreadful.
“I'm not like these characters in real life, so maybe that's why I'm an actor,” Green said. “But it's not normal people that I'm playing.”