The Trials of Playing Dr. Frankenstein

by Natasha Wolff | May 13, 2015 10:33 am

It’s not easy being Dr. Frankenstein. Just ask Harry Treadaway who plays the famed literary physician in Showtime’s Penny Dreadful[1], now in its second season. What appealed to him the most were the bigger themes of the show[2] that pull each of the characters in. “The issue of life and death is such a universal topic,” says the British actor, “even 150 years after Mary Shelley wrote the novel, people are still fascinated by it.” It doesn’t hurt that the Victorian era-set show is filmed on location in Dublin where all kinds of fantastical (and often evil) creatures come to life thanks to stunning sets and costumes. 

“The world that John [Logan] created is so gripping and exciting and such a treat,” he says, “we all feel very lucky when we come to work every day.” The cast, which also features Josh Hartnett (as Ethan Chandler), Eva Green (as Vanessa Ives) and Timothy Dalton (as Sir Malcolm Murray) began filming on the second season late last year and recently wrapped production (the chilly Irish winter weather “adds to the Victorianess of it,” he says jokingly).

Harry Treadaway

Last season saw Frankenstein and his creature, Caliban, played by Rory Kinnear, enter into a complicated relationship that left a lot of blood and carnage in its wake. “He is much more intellectually superior than Dr. Frankenstein expected,” he reveals. “The character of the creature is more like in the book, refined and eloquent, and Rory has done such a great job of that. “ Playing with life and death has its drawbacks though, as Frankenstein comes to find. “In order to experience life in a full sense involves human emotion and thinking that I would have created life without that aspect taught me a lesson—a life without the ability to love is not a full life.”

So what does the future hold for them? For starters, Caliban will get a girlfriend of sorts this season when Frankenstein reanimates Brona Croft (Ethan Chandler’s love interest). “Last year the characters came together to help Sir Malcolm find his daughter and this year steps away from vampire territory and makes us the hunted. The threats are more real, not just supernatural.” 

  1. Penny Dreadful:
  2. the show:

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