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'Chapelwaite' showrunners adapt King's 'Jerusalem's Lot' into a Gothic horror series
If you loved Stephen King's Salem's Lot, then EPIX's 10-episode series, Chapelwaite, premiering on Aug. 22, is the adjacent story you're going to want to dive into. Based on King's short story "Jerusalem's Lot" from the short story collection Night Shift (1978), Chapelwaite adapts the epistolary format of the book into a full-fledged series with the Charles Boone character as a sea captain returning to his home in Maine. Possessing a family tree fraught with death and dark secrets, Boone and his three children must confront a legacy they barely know.
Adapted into a series by brothers Peter and Jason Filardi, Chapelwaite goes all-in with its Gothic horror, period piece approach starring Adrien Brody (The Jacket) embodying the raspy-voiced Captain Charles Boone, with Emily Hampshire (12 Monkeys) as the local woman who agrees to nanny his children. SYFY WIRE spoke with the Filardi brothers about why this adaptation felt right for them to try,
Did you seek out "Jerusalem's Lot" as a story to adapt, or did EPIX come to you?
Jason Filardi: Obviously, we're both huge Stephen King fans. Me personally, I hadn't read "Jerusalem's Lot" before it was brought to us, so it was new to me. Obviously, I knew Salem's Lot but they are vastly different. There are similarities. Actually, the project was brought to us by Michael Wright [President] at EPIX. We were pitching a whole different horror story. But we were over the moon, me especially never having worked on a Stephen King project.
Peter Filardi: I had read it when I was a kid. But it had been quite some time. Having adapted Salem's Lot for TNT years earlier, we read the story immediately, of course, and then just started brainstorming on all it could be.
What did you hook into most within the relatively slight short story that made you feel it could make a robust series?
Jason: The story itself has all the great jumping-off points. It has all those elements.
Peter: Our Charles Boone is a whaling captain who inherited this mansion and has come back. The Quakers saw whaling as a holy mission of sorts, a religious mission. It was going out into the great unknown to slay a leviathan bringing back lamp oil to light homes at night, to push back against the shadows, and also the metaphoric shadows of fear and superstition and prejudice. And so the interplay of light and dark, of ignorance and knowledge, of fear and love is a big central push/pull dichotomy to our series. So going very natural seemed appropriate.
When did it come to you that Adrien Brody would be the right actor to play Captain Boone?
Peter: Adrian was at the top of our list. My brother and I wanted him immediately for this character. And he's just such pro. He brought that Charles Boone character to life more than you imagine when you're writing it. He even changes his voice a little bit, just so much that it's a character. He slipped in and out of that character so effortlessly. It was really amazing to watch. We would sit there at the monitors and just watch him do his thing and we'd be mesmerized, honestly, by his performance. I feel like you can't take your eyes off him. He loved the whole concept that really we were going for, that stripped-down, New England austere, feel and look. The horror of things that you can't quite see, or hear, or are just just outside the light.
You had a lot of room to expand the short story, and you add a lot including the insular town's rejection of new and foreign people. Why go in that direction?
Peter: Jason and I grew up in Mystic, Connecticut, which is a whaling town. We've always been intrigued by whaling and whaling culture. It's part of your scholastic education when you grow up in a town like that. What's interesting is that it was a multi-racial location. It was a tough job. You'd go out on ship, men would ship out to sea for three years at a time never coming home. They'd pick up crew along the way. It was a real mix. There's no segregation. They're all in. We loved that world and that's the world where Charles and his children come from. We just thought that would be a really neat character and a neat element that we could bring to the story.
Jason: We have Charles Boone's wife as Marquese and from the Marquesas Islands. [Sailors] would often fall in love with these girls and start a family. We also loved that about Charles Boone so it was really interesting for us to take these three children, two girls and a boy, who are mixed race from the islands, grew up on a whaling ship which is multiracial/multi-religion, and bring them to New England where it's the exact opposite. And these kids face prejudice.
Jennifer Ens (Honor), Sirena Gulamgaus (Loa), and Ian Ho (Tane) are all real acting finds. Was it tough to find kids with their skills and ability to feel like they were all siblings?
Jason: We just lucked out with those three. It was really a big concern for us in the very beginning. We've got to cast three kids, and they're multiracial. And boy, honestly, the funny thing was, we found those kids so fast and those three just jumped out at us. They were really one of the easiest to cast because they were just so good in their auditions.
How about selecting Emily Hampshire as the very ahead-of-her-time Rebecca?
Jason: For the character of Rebecca, we always saw her as a woman that's ahead of her time stuck in 1850, and really doesn't belong there. Like the Boones, we always imagined here as an outsider also. She went to Mount Holyoke College when women really didn't. She's very well educated, opinionated, outspoken, and we love that about that character. She's returned home from Boston to help out her mother and she doesn't feel comfortable there. She's different and Emily is exactly that. [Laughs.] Emily is one special person. Not only is she hysterical, but she is such a hard worker. Again, she really just got the character. We had watched her 12 Monkeys stuff and that's what we really liked and why we went after her. She brought her own bit of quirkiness to this character, which we love and we hoped for. Rebecca has to be a little different than everybody in this town.
Did you create Chapelwaite as a one-and-done series?
Jason: Originally, my brother and I had always thought of it as one season. But saying that, we had crafted it that the door is open. There's a lot of the Boone family and so there most definitely is an open door to another season if EPIX is up to it.
Chapelwaite premieres on EPIX on Aug. 22 at 10 p.m. Eastern.