I want to be upfront from the beginning: I might have some bias when it comes to AMC‘s series adaptation of Joe Hill‘s NOS4A2. I read the novel when it first came out, I’ve read the IDW comic prequel Wraith, and overall I am just a big fan of the words Hill puts down on paper. So I was super excited to be able to attend the first-episode screening and panel at WonderCon 2019 – with the series set to premiere on Sunday, June 2 (following the fifth season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead).
First off, when it comes to talking about what was in the first episode I am only going to mention things that were discussed by the panel to avoid spoilers.
That said, as someone who loved the book I feel that the first episode did an amazing job making so much of what I read appear on-screen – just as I imagined it. The actors were all very good, but Ashleigh Cummings as Vic McQueen did amazing job making me feel that what she was going through was real – even through all the craziness. As for Zachary Quinto‘s Charlie Manx? The first time he showed his face and teeth, and then spoke Manx’s words… it chilled me to the bone. The show did an excellent job in casting their actors based on what I’ve seen so far.
During the panel, Quinto discussed having only read the book after he accepted the role, and that once he did he was so glad he accepted. He talked about how much depth the book has beyond what we will see in the first season, with Cummings revealing that it was the show’s ability to be both a horror story as well as a gritty family drama being what drew her to the project.
YouTube star Jahkara Smith, who plays the magical/mystical Maggie Leigh (who does things you’ve probably never seen someone do with Scrabble tiles before) is so new to television acting that she is not even included on the show’s IMDB page. Why? She does not have an IMDB page of her own yet. She admitted the scope of the production was insane to her at first, but that everyone around her on set make themselves available to her and that she has a wealth of mentors to learn from.
Series showrunner Jami O’Brien said the first season covers about 1/3 of the book, but that there are so many things and people that the book just skims the surface of that she thinks the show could certainly go beyond three seasons and cover much more ground.
An audience member asked if there was any horror that they would recommend, with Hill tongue-in-cheek and not-at-all objectively “suggesting” that everyone just go to YouTube (or scroll below) to watch the just-screened trailer over and over again until June.
I had the opportunity to ask a question, and talked about how much the bridge (read the book or wait to see the show to know more) looked exactly like what I imagined when I read the book. With that in mind, I wanted to know how it felt for Hill to see what he wrote come to life. He said the bridge was based on a bridge that was around his home where he grew up in Bangor, Maine. When he visited the set and saw the bridge, Hill knew they had it right:
“It was like stepping into my own imagination, and it was also sort of like stepping into my own childhood. So for me that was one of the most exciting parts of visiting the set. Seeing it pull together has been tremendously exciting.”
Co-stars Ebon Moss Bachrach (Chris McQueen, Vic’s dad) and Olafur Darri Olafsson (Bing Partridge) were also part of the panel presentation.
There’s everything I’m willing to share, but again I would recommend the show whole-heartedly to anyone who has read the book or is a fan of horror.
The supernatural horror series NOS4A2, based on Hill’s bestselling novel of the same name, tells the story of Charlie Manx, a seductive immortal who feeds off the souls of children then deposits what remains of them into “Christmasland” – an icy, twisted Christmas village of Manx’s imagination where every day is Christmas Day and unhappiness is against the law. Manx finds his whole world threatened when a young woman in New England discovers she has a dangerous gift.
Quinto’s Charlie Manx is a seductive immortal who feeds off the souls of children, then deposits what remains of them into Christmasland – an icy, twisted Christmas village of Manx’s imagination where every day is Christmas Day and unhappiness is against the law. Manx finds his whole world threatened when a young woman in New England (Cummings) discovers she has a dangerous gift.
For further musings from Joshua Stone you can follow him on Twitter @1NerdyOne