Juan Antonio Bayona is far from a household name. The Spanish filmmaker has directed the atmospheric thriller The Orphanage and last year’s tsunami drama The Impossible, but he’s not yet well known in mainstream circles. Power players at Hollywood studios, however, have taken note of Bayona and have placed him in the mix for a number of high profile projects over the past few years. But now, according to a Showtime press release, the talented up-and-coming director is heading to the small screen for a project that sounds surprisingly awesome.
Bayona has been brought on board to direct the first two episodes of Showtime’s new series “Penny Dreadful.” I’m not a Showtime subscriber – I stopped watching “Dexter” years ago – but this project sounds cool enough that it just might be enough to get me to sign up. Billed as a “psychosexual horror series,” the show features “some of literature’s most famously terrifying characters – including Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, Dorian Gray and iconic figures from the novel Dracula – [as they] become embroiled in Victorian London. The series weaves together these classic horror origin stories as the characters grapple with their monstrous alienation.” I really enjoyed the concept of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (even though the movie was terrible), and Bill Willingham’s “Fables” has been a terrific comic series that weaves together legendary characters with ease, so the idea of a show like this that sees famous literary characters sharing the same world is exciting.
And if that wasn’t enough for you, the show is created, written and executive produced by three-time Oscar nominee John Logan (Hugo, The Aviator, Gladiator) and executive produced by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and Neal Street’s Pippa Harris (Revolutionary Road, Call The Midwife). This sounds like a massively cool project that Logan and Mendes are collaborating on in their off time between Bond movies; Logan wrote the sequel to Skyfall and it’s been reported that Mendes will return to direct the next Bond film.
Sounds cool, right? Bayona seems like a great choice to handle material like this, and all the talent behind the scenes should draw in some terrific actors when they start casting. Shooting gets underway in London this fall, so we’ll likely be hearing some updates about who will be playing these iconic characters very soon. Stay tuned.
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