Now that Grimm has ended, NBC is betting on an adaptation of a Charlaine Harris series of novels to win over hearts and fill that void.
Midnight, Texas, which debuts July 24, will introduce viewers to a quiet town that is more than meets the eye (it’s chockfull of supernatural beings!). After screening the season premiere months early at WonderCon, Showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen and cast members François Arnaud, Arielle Kebbel, Jason Lewis, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Dylan Bruce and Sarah Ramos spoke with reporters about what we can look forward to in the series!
We’re introduced to the town through Manfred Bernardo (Arnaud), a psychic who finds himself embroiled in a murder investigation. Accustomed to skipping out at the first hint of trouble, his decision to stay leads to much bigger things. As Midnight is populated with people with secrets, with “backstories they’re running from” as Monica put it, the 10-episode run means there will never be a dull moment. “And because our Midnighters are so diverse so are the stories,” Monica explained. “Bobo’s back story is very different than Lem’s back story and so every episode has it’s own vibe—some of them are a little more action-heavy, some are a little more thoughtful, some are a little more romantic—and I think as I describe the show, it’s everything I love in a blender.”
Though Manfred doesn’t run from his gifts, he doesn’t fully own them either. “[A]lthough he’s embracing his psychic abilities to make money, in order to make money, he’s still very conflicted about them and doesn’t control his powers very well,” revealed François, “and so to see people who are more at ease with their differences I think is inspiring him.”
“Manfred was raised in a caravan with his Grandma who’s like ‘When there’s trouble let’s leave,’ that’s what he knows and so to even stay put somewhere is an advancement,” Monica added. François called it a big “compromise” for Manfred to stay and start down a path of personal growth, to become “someone that he can look at in the mirror.”
Creek, played by Sarah, has basically grown up in this town and hasn’t interacted with very many people her own age. An aspiring writer, beyond the family secrets that will surface, Creek will be looking to define herself as a person. “…[W]hat we talked about before we started shooting the first season was that she was kind of gonna learn how to go from being like a daughter and a sister to being an adult woman who’s independent and isn’t defined by those roles.”
Parisa plays Fiji Cavanaugh, a witch who owns a “spiritual store” in town called “Inquiring Minds.” Like Manfred, her personal arc will at least in part be owning her powers and how it will affect her life. “She’s a caretaker, she’s a lover, she just wants everyone to be good and fine and she’s kind of under-living in a lot of ways,” Parisa said. “She has incredible powers that she’s not really…she’s not really dealing with them. Throughout the season what we’re gonna see is her deal with this issue of am I going to really be everything that I am? And what is possible for me to lose if I do?”
“Midnight is a very accepting town,” Dylan began. “It’s a sanctuary for supernaturals and humans alike, so a lot of us have checkered pasts or are in a town that accepts a witch or a vampire and sees them for what they are.” The people in town don’t know much about the past of his character, Bobo, which Dylan characterizes as “dark.” “He’s been on the run for quite some time and Midnight is a place for him to find refuge and to be accepted, and his past is definitely catching up with him, with the death of his fiancé. There’s some interesting other plots to play with that, and his trajectory for the season is dealing with that death and also dealing with his past that’s right on his tail, which might not be a very good thing for him.”
Arielle plays Olivia, a very dangerous woman who definitely knows how to handle herself but there are things that even she is afraid of. “…[A]s powerful as she is, her dad is a constant threat in her life and will be until the day she dies. And Monica and I have talked about that. Come Season 2, fingers crossed, there’ll be a lot more there,” she revealed. “She’s had an incredibly painful childhood, that goes back to her mom and dad. We learn about that through the series, and I think that you start to learn why she’s so protective of her fellow Midnighters, and Olivia is not the type to say ‘I love you’ but she does it in so many other ways, and she’ll risk her life for any of those people in town. She learned to be a survivor at a young age, and I think that that quality stays with her through the series.”
The celestial Joe strong is played by Jason Lewis, who loves the role. “One of my favorite quotes, and I don’t know who I’m stealing it from, is, ‘The hardest fight in life is against your own cynicism.” As we learn more we become more cynical, and that sucks because it should be the other way around,” he explained. “…[T]o stick around for as long as he does,—there’s a certain wisdom that comes from that—it’d be really easy to just be cynical, and be hateful, and worn out of the human condition, and yet somehow he’s managed to hold on to his sense of humanity and help. I think for me, as an actor getting to play that character, we storytellers do service to the world by illuminating it a little bit, and this character gets to do some of that, that you’re not alone struggling with this life.”
That sense of camaraderie, of kinship, is definitely a thought that echoes throughout the cast. “…[I]it seems like today people don’t really talk to their neighbors, see their neighbors, interact with people that are in their neighborhood,” Dylan began. “The town I grew up with, everybody knew each other, everyone’s kids played together and you just felt safe walking down the street. And in Midnight, you feel that too because everybody loves and respects each other and is very accepting of everyone from all different kinds of backgrounds and walks of life.”
“I want to live there now and always,” said Parisa. “I love it. Midnight is like, as Dylan was saying, it’s a sanctuary for others, anybody who’s other. From the outside it looks like a kinda half boarded up, dead town, but inside, that’s where all the life is, the characters—the people that live in Midnight are what make Midnight Midnight.”
“And I think our show really thinks about community and that people can’t do stuff by themselves,” Monica said, “like the world is less good when you’re alone.”
Not having 22 episodes to work with wasn’t a problem for Monica. In fact, she appreciated the ability to tell a focused, whole story. “It let us really approach it like a novel almost. Like there’s 10 chapters and every chapter has its own beginning, middle and end but they add up to a total story. So I think it, just in terms of our ability to sort of craft a story, it really helped for sure. And sleep was good!”