Van Helsing Showrunner Q&A: Season 1, Episode 5
Murder mysteries, unexpected reunions and sewer-dwelling nightmares abound.
Oh, and Rebecca, our resident vampire hottie.
We spoke with Neil LaBute about the latest developments of Van Helsing.
We love that there's now this murder mystery chamber piece going on in the hospital. Where did the idea of having a killer amongst the humans come from?
The idea of a serial killer being among the survivors was a gradual thing that was spawned and then grew in the writers' room. We loved the idea of a character that would thrive in this atmosphere of fear and death that surrounded the rest of our characters. That was a really fun addition to the overall story that we were trying to tell. I have to credit Simon Barry (creator/showrunner of Continuum) for being such a great guide to me personally; he really helped me understand the role of the showrunner and how to work with a roomful of writers, which I'd never done before. All the tricks of 'breaking' a story for episodic television were things that Simon helped me understand and master and adding a murder story to our world was one of the many things he was instrumental in developing on Van Helsing.
Was it always planned that Mohamad would be the one to take one for the team and confess to the killings, or were there other scapegoats considered as well?
Mohamad became a clear candidate pretty early in the process but we ran through the list of usual suspects — who could it be and why and how much would we benefit by it being any one person? I really liked the idea of putting Mohamad back on the streets by himself since he has continually proved himself to be someone who can really take care and even thrive in the wild. His character is a lot of fun and I hope people respond to him over the next few episodes — a lot of credit has to go to Trezzo Mahoro, who has created a really memorable character. He comes off like a sweet kid and then, suddenly, he has a machete in his hands and he's cutting off heads. Pretty amazing.
We love Rebecca, and the face-off between her and Sheema was really intense. Did anyone or anything in particular inspire Rebecca's character?
The level of vampire that Rebecca represents has been 'alive' for hundreds of years and they've seen good times and bad times — right now she is thriving and in her element. She stalks around feeling and using her power; Laura Mennell was hired and given free reign to be just as bad as she wanted to be. I have to say she really embraced the attitude of the character and created this beautiful, powerful female creature. She's a very sweet person on-set but she is pretty fearless in front of the camera and I love watching her create Rebecca. I know that we can push her to get bloody and be horrible and that we'll get what we ask for (and usually a lot more).
Susan as a vampire was particularly nasty. Now that she's human again, is she on the road to redemption, or is there something else in store for her?
Hilary Jardine is such a terrific actress — she has been amazing to watch over the course of the series. She started out as Vanessa's hard-drinking neighbor who had back luck with boyfriends, then became a vicious vampire and is now back in the world of the living and on the run with Vanessa. Hilary is another of these actresses, like most of our cast, who work in Canada with this no-nonsense professionalism that is really inspiring. They come to work ready to work and provide great material, shot after shot. I think there is a lot of great material ahead for Susan and I think the audience is going to really enjoy the ride with her.
Dear lord … WHAT'S IN THE SEWER? (Do we even want to know?)
Ha! We really wanted to create a few creatures every now and then that were even worse than the general vampires we were working with. We had some very special creature performers on hand and the 'bottom feeders' that exist in the sewer were something that all departments really had a hand in creating (VFX, special effects, hair, make-up, etc.). We had a real blast working with these monsters but it's not fun shooting in cramped, dark, wet spaces. Very slow and very nerve-wrecking.
What's your favorite scene in this episode, and why?
I thought David Frazee directed the hell out of this episode — he really kept things moving and brought his personal energy throughout. The fight between Vanessa and Susan was pretty delicious and is ultimately my favorite in the episode. You get to really see the many layers that Kelly Overton brings to the table as Vanessa. She is, in turn, frightened, tough, defiant, violent, sad and amazingly intense. Our entire series is encapsulated in the moment when Vanessa stands up with Susan's blood on her mouth and screams "Who's next?!"