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As NOS4A2 speeds towards its season finale confrontation between Vic McQueen and Charlie Manx, the cast and creators took the stage for the popular AMC show’s first panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, with SYFYW WIRE in attendance. Stars Ashleigh Cummings and Zachary Quinto were joined by executive producer Jami O’Brien and NOS4A2 novelist and executive producer Joe Hill for a lively discussion moderated by EW senior writer Clark Collis.
After showing a trailer for the last three episodes of the season, O'Brien began with an announcement. “I had a phone call from AMC this morning, and I am very excited to share the exclusive news that we will be coming back for Season 2,” O’Brien said.
“NOS4A2 2: Electric Boogaloo,” Hill joked.
Asked about his Christmastime experiences that may have led to NOS4A2, Hill said, “You look for the stuff we trust, that we find comforting and reassuring, and you rip the rug out from it. You ruin it. I’m the ruiner.”
Hill also said that part of the book’s inspiration was seeing a license plate that said GHOST: “What if there was a guy with a car that ran on human souls instead of gasoline?” But, Hill said, “I was already working on Vic’s character; Vic came first.”
Cummings said she thought she would be playing a guest role, since in the book Vic is only 18 for a very short time. “That turned out not to be the case.”
Quinto said he initially didn’t want to do the show, but he had the opportunity to read five or six scripts. “I found them really unexpected and interesting,” he said, and after speaking with O’Brien they built a connection. “There was a really organic progression,” Quinto said. He then read the novel and the graphic novel The Wraith to dive even deeper into the role.
When asked about what he does in his role as executive producer, Hill replied, “Eat Craft Service and wander through the set looking at my phone, especially during the emotional scenes.”
Asked about changing the “character architecture of the book,” O’Brien quoted television writer Marti Noxon that, when adapting a book, “the book and the show are sisters, not twins.” O’Brien said that, while some key scenes in the book take place in Vic’s childhood, she “didn’t want to lose those scenes or play them as flashbacks with a child actor; we wanted our Vic to carry us through those scenes.”
Collis brought up a recent scene in which a captive cop was eaten by the children of Christmasland. “I have to ask: where did they get those children, and where were their parents?”
“One of them was my nephew,” O’Brien replied. She added that most of them were local actors, and Quinto discussed how the producers made great efforts to take care of the kids, bringing in a child psychologist for support.
“It was important to all of us that the psychological well being was handled,” Quinto said. They met Quinto out of character and and saw the process of turning him into Charlie Manx. “I was really proud of our company for taking care of those kids and making that their number one priority, which it should be.”
“Yeah, we want to psychologically destroy you, not them,” Hill said.
Jahkara Smith’s turn as Maggie is her first acting role; O’Brien invited her to audition after seeing her satirical makeup videos on Youtube. Quinto highly praised her, noting Smith’s unusual breadth of experience despite her young age. “She was in the air force until about two weeks before we started shooting,” he said.
O’Brien spoke about the mix of humor and horror that runs throughout NOS4A2. “One of my favorite things is when Charlie Manx has to interact with the real world. He’s a man out of time, but he’s still a man – he has to go to the convenience store if he wants an air freshener.”
Hill added his own analogy. “If you see Moe from the Three Stooges hit Curly with a sledgehammer, you laugh; if you see Leatherface hit a teenager in the head with a sledgehammer and there’s brains splattered everywhere, you scream. But it’s the same scene.”
“I think there will be a lot of Charlie’s backstory in Season 2,” Hill said, including how he got his powers.
The next episode is “one of our darkest,” Hill said.
The eighth episode of NOS4A2, starring Ashleigh Cummings and Zachary Quinto, airs July 21 at 10 p.m. ET/9CT on AMC, and the two-part season finale follows on July 28.
Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.