There are hordes of supernatural beings on TV at the moment, but the creators of Syfy’s Ghost Wars think their 13-episode show will offer scares that stay with you after you’ve switched off the set (or powered down your device). Stars Vincent D’Onofrio (Father Dan Carpenter), Meat Loaf (Doug Rennie), Avan Jogia (Roman Mercer), Kandyse McClure (Landis Barker), as well as showrunner Simon Barry, writer and executive producer Dennis Heaton, and executive producers Chad Oakes and Mike Frislev spoke with press at San Diego Comic-Con 2017 to explain what’s going down in small-town Alaska.
The coastal town of Ports Moore, Alaska hasn’t always been haunted, but its residents are used to being cut off from the rest of the world, thanks to the remote location and harsh winters. “For us it was really important that the outside world didn’t interfere with this story,” said Barry.
Roman Mercer comes into town and is immediately viewed with suspicion. “No one likes me,” said Jogia. “I kind of inhabit this place as an outsider.” But the townsfolk are quick to seek his help — and his powers of communicating and repelling the ghosts — when the dead come calling (and the visits are far from friendly). “I’m a layer of protection,” he said, though he resents these foul-weather friends.
As someone who’s used to talking to ghosts, Roman has one perspective on the paranormal situation. Scientist Landis Barker has another. “I came in a little bit later in the show as a voice of reason,” said McClure. “I don’t buy into any of it.” She’s also new to Port Moore, looking to rebuild her tarnished reputation in a high-paying but “soul-destroying” job.
Heaton describes the show as an anthology show that’s also serialized. “Ghost stories are very personal, very intimate events,” he said. “Each episode has a very unique, individualized ghost story that gets traveled through and completed, and those events feed into that character’s attitude as they go forward through the bigger problem of the series, which is we got motherfuckin’ ghosts.” And just ghosts. Unlike other shows that have vampires, werewolves, and so on coexisting (like the upcoming Ghosted), you won’t see other paranormals in Port Moore.
Though the writers took inspiration from some personal events, the ghost stories are designed to reveal something about the person being tormented. “They really come more from who our character is and what kind of secret they have, because that’s one of the things our ghosts like to do in the series, is they like to draw out the things you’re trying to keep buried and hidden and use that against you,” said Heaton. “The ghosts pray on your fears,” said Frislev.
“We needed to construct a creature for our mythology would be able to address the four different quadrants of religion, magic, skepticism, and science,” said Heaton. If Ramon is magic and Landis science, Father Dan Carpenter is religion. Either Doug Rennie or Kim Coates’s character may be the skeptic.
“You’re looking at a group of characters who all have a different history, a different belief system, all trying to rationalize and figure out what does this mean,” said Barry.
“Each person, each individual is affected in a different way,” said D’Onofrio. “It examines the psyche of everybody in the town.”
While some turn to Roman for protection, many look to the Father for answers. “He’s had his challenges with his faith,” said Frislev. “He’s almost ill-prepared” for his new-found popularity. But not everyone is a fan. “We had a couple scenes where he was real fuckin’ jerk-off,” D’Onofrio said of Loaf’s character, Doug. Though he agrees the handyman is unpleasant (he used a more colorful word), Loaf had a great time playing him. “That was the best character, for me, that I’ve ever read,” he said. “When the camera is rolling, he’s there big time,” said D’Onofrio. “It’s really impressive.”
Loaf said it was an honor to work with the Daredevil star and took a bit of inspiration from him. “The first time you see Doug, I’m going, ‘OK, I gotta do something really weird. I know: D’Onofrio from Criminal Intent,” he said and proceeded to do the Detective Goren lean. “So I went, I’m stealing from him. And I did. Then I found out he was in the show.”
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