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SXSW: Zachary Quinto sees his 135-year-old NOS4A2 character as a 'wounded child'

By Christian Long
Nos4a2 Charlie Manx Zachary Quinto

Zachary Quinto has a knack for making villainous characters unconventionally empathetic, and his latest role as Charlie Manx in NOS4A2 certainly fits that mold.

The antagonist of the AMC series, based on the book by Joe Hill, is a 135-year-old demon who feeds off the souls of children. In doing so, he takes them to a town of his own design called Christmasland, where they eventually become evil, cannibalistic demons themselves. Circle of (after) life.

Ahead of the series' world premiere at SXSW Monday night, Hill and Quinto were joined by showrunner Jami O'Brien and co-star Ashleigh Cummings for a press conference, where Quinto revealed he was drawn to the character, in part, because he saw him as "a wounded child."

"I think you have to understand the trauma that Charlie Manx experienced in his own childhood," Quinto told the crowd, which included SYFY WIRE. "There's a very real psychological component to the evolution of Charlie Manx. When unresolved trauma, unresolved psychological neglect, festers and has nowhere to go, he becomes this very demented and warped version of a wounded child."

Quinto, who was initially wary of taking on another dark character, went on to compliment the "deliciously demented landscape" he was given to explore, crediting both Hill's source material and how O'Brien is choosing to portray him in the series. "Where [characters] fall on an ethical spectrum is less important to me than if they are complex in their own crafting," he added.

O'Brien shares Quinto's perspective on the character, saying that she believes Charlie Manx "thinks that what he's doing is good for kids."

"I think that he loves children, and I think he's saving them," O'Brien explained. "What kid wouldn't want to live in the eternity of Christmasland? But when every day is Christmas and unhappiness is against the law, kids do things. Their teeth go bad, they pull the wings off butterflies, they do all kinds of ... other things. If you don't have any kind of parental structure, they turn into demons."

NOS4A2 is set to premiere on AMC sometime this summer. Until then, be sure to check out all of SYFY WIRE's SXSW coverage here.