If you thought Season 1 of Netflix’s Hemlock Grove was intense, gird your loins: The second season drops Friday, July 11, and according to star Landon Liboiron, viewers are in for “a ton of dark s***.”
As a matter of fact, Liboiron — who once again sinks his teeth into the role of the gypsy werewolf Peter Rumancek — hints that the showrunners have really upped the ante this season. And from the looks of the teaser trailers, that means a whole lotta spine-tingling suspense and, well, blood.
Lots and lots of blood.
“There’s a new sort of ‘big bad’ that’s making its presence known in Hemlock Grove, and that’s a big part of why Peter and Roman have to team up again,” Liboiron explained. “I can’t tell you what that ‘big bad’ is, but it’s bad. It’s bigger than just a vargulf… it’s bigger than that.”
Defending Hemlock Grove against new evil translates into more transformation for Peter — a gruesome, painfully realistic-looking process depicted in the first season that still has people talking. Rightfully so, too. In addition to CGI, the effects team relied on tactics like using a pig’s skin for discarded flesh and flying in an actual wolf to create a visual experience unlike anything viewers had ever seen.
Of course, Liboiron’s perspective is quite different from the viewer’s. Whereas we see only the spectacular finished product, he must create the depth and emotion of that moment without all of the bells and whistles.
It’s “terrifying,” he told us.
“You never know if what you’re doing looks completely ludicrous, or if it is actually believable, or if the audience will watch it and go, ‘Oh, this is actually happening,'” Liboiron elaborated. “So it’s putting a lot of trust into the people that you’re working with and just kind of committing to it.”
It isn’t the first time Liboiron has had to invoke vivid imagination to play a character. In the short-lived Steven Spielberg series Terra Nova, he had to film under the pretense that he was surrounded by dinosaurs.
Happily, his father and mother — who’s “also an artist” — always fostered Liboiron’s proclivities for make-believe. Even now, it’s a trait he relishes. “The imagination is too fun to give up, you know?” he said with a smirk in his voice.
So it wasn’t the unknown element Liboiron disliked about the transformation scenes, or even the gore. Rather, it was the fact that those scenes called for him to strip down — and while he never suffered from modesty, he did suffer from frigid Canadian temps.
“It was even colder,” he lamented when asked how that worked out for him in the second season, “because we were shooting in the winter in Toronto, which was breaking records for how cold it was. There’s actually a shot of me this season where I’m completely naked, lying in the snow. So it was terrible, it was absolutely terrible,” Liboiron laughed. “But you know, hopefully it looks good.”
While we used our own overactive imaginations to consider that, Liboiron pointed out that Peter’s transformation this season isn’t just physical.
“A big part of Peter in Season 1 was how in control he was of his surroundings and of his past, and in Season 2 you see him start to lose control a little bit,” he shared. “He becomes a little bit more of a live wire, and he’s battling that throughout the entire season.”
The inner turmoil could certainly be linked in part to Peter’s guilt over abandoning Roman (and Hemlock Grove) at the end of the first season, thereby breaking up one of the most bizarre bromances in cinematic history. Perhaps a friendship between a werewolf and a vampire was too good to be true?
“We’re definitely at odds with each other at the beginning of this season. But actually Madeline Brewer’s character, Miranda, she sort of plays this… I’ve been calling her a beacon of light in Peter and Roman’s lives,” Liboiron said, “because both Peter and Roman are extremely depressing at the beginning of Season 2 and battling their own demons and their own kind of internal turmoil, and when Miranda gets stuck in Hemlock Grove, she sort of becomes the beacon of light in their very, very stressful lives. She plays a pivotal part in bringing them back together.”
Brewer will be a familiar face for Netflix binge-watchers, who will recognize her as expired inmate Tricia from Orange Is the New Black. And hers won’t be the only familiar face that makes a somewhat surprise appearance.
Hemlock Grove‘s matriarch of the supernatural, Olivia, is back from the dead. Played by Famke Janssen, the character — and her real life counterpart — is a formidable force.
“I think the intimidating factor worked in Peter’s favor, because Peter knows what Olivia is. That power that she holds, Peter respects that. So it’s sort of the same thing, where it’s “OK, here’s Famke… and I’m just little ol’ me,'” Liboiron laughed of working with Janssen. “But she’s extremely sweet and pleasant to be around.”
Not everyone gets to rise from the dead, though. For fans hoping Peter’s tragically deceased love interest Letha might be resurrected, it’s time to give up the ghost.
“You can’t bring back everybody,” Liboiron said. “Then it kind of cheapens the power that death has.”