"Damien" Creator Glen Mazzara Is Rooting for His Antichrist

by IMDb-Contributing-Writers | last updated - 07 Mar 2016

IMDb talks with Glen Mazzara, the former producer of "The Walking Dead" and "The Shield." He explains why we should root for the Antichrist in his new series, "Damien," which is based on the 1976's The Omen and premieres Thursday, March 7, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on A&E. — Sharon Knolle

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Bradley James in Damien (2016)

Glen Mazzara on choosing Bradley James for the role:

After an exhaustive search of literally hundreds of actors we looked at, we really needed to get this right. There's so much hanging on that lead role. Bradley sent in a self-tape audition. And in all honesty, when I saw it, I really was intrigued. I thought he played a lot of different aspects that we needed for that character. As soon as I met him, I knew he was the guy. He's a very charming Brit. We're really lucky to have him, and I think he's done a great job fleshing out an iconic character that we really don't know too much about.

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Colin Morgan and Bradley James in Merlin (2008)

On whether he hopes "Merlin" fans will tune in:

What's exciting is that genre fans are a very enthusiastic bunch. They like to try new things. I think they become very attached to their stars. So, I hope they respond. Of course, this is a very, very different role from what Bradley played on "Merlin." I'm sure some people will be in for a surprise. But, I hope they check it out because I think he really pushes himself as an actor here, and he's done some great work.

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Bradley James in Damien (2016)

Why the series begins when Damien turns 30:

Age 30 is significant because that was the age that Jesus Christ started his ministry. If Damien is the Antichrist, I thought it would be interesting and unique to use the Christ story as a model to explore the story of the Antichrist. I've never seen those two linked directly. The Antichrist is usually just considered an evil dictator. But I thought we could do something different andre-examine the whole concept in a different light. That's why the age of 30 was important.

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Bradley James in Damien (2016)

Why Damien is a war photographer:

In the original movie, I got the sense that those events were taking place in the real world at that time. I wanted Damien Thorn of today to be connected to the political-social situation around the world. So, I wanted him to really feel that it was real, that it was taking place today. And photography is an element in the original film. I thought it would be interesting to carry that forward. I think, also, the role of the war photographer is both a participant and a bystander of some of the most horrible atrocities taking place around the world, someone who has to bear witness for evil when most of us want to turn away. That brings this character to life. If you look at the Syrian migrant crisis, what brought that home for many of us was the single photographer of the toddler washed up on the beach. A single photograph can change perceptions. It can change the world. That's part of what motivates Damien, but he's there witnessing something most of us don't ever want to look at. I think that's an important choice.

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Barbara Hershey in Damien (2016)

On casting Barbara Hershey as Damien's mentor:

I'm a fan of Barbrara's from Hannah and Her Sisters. She broke my heart with a very nuanced performance in that role. I've loved her in a lot of movies, long before Black Swan. I loved her in The Entity and The Last Temptation of Christ. She's an actor who takes risks. I actually wrote her a fan letter and told her, "I would love for you to consider this role," explaining who I am and who I work with and what sort of relationship I have with my actors. She responded to the material. Since we met, we just hit it off. She's been an incredible partner through this entire process. I feel very, very lucky to have her as part of our talented cast.

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Bradley James in Damien (2016)

On Damien not knowing who he is at first:

I felt if the character is fully cognizant and has embraced his evil role, I know exactly how that show plays out. That's not surprising. They tried to turn The Omen into a TV show before. There was a thing called "Omen IV: The Awakening." It's very clear-cut as to what that show is supposed to be. There's not a lot of surprise. It just becomes a collection of death sequences and horrible accidents. You don't get a chance to open up and explore the characters in a deep way. The way that TV is made today, we have the opportunity to develop complex characters in TV. That's what interested me. That's what I wanted to do. And to do that, I needed to have the lead character have a journey and change over the course of the series. I think, even from the beginning of this season to the end, you'll see a change. I think that's really interesting to me, my fellow writers, the directors, the actors, and hopefully the audience.

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Scott Wilson and Bradley James in Damien (2016)

On the various factions trying to control Damien:

Those different factions are in competition with each other. We're careful during the course of the season to introduce these different factions and different agendas who want to control Damien, but I'll be honest: In my mind, we have many, many more factions out there that haven't come to the foreground yet. That's part of the fun: Damien's presence stirs things up in a way that nobody can really control. It was a lot of fun to write that conspiracy aspect of the show. That's something I've always enjoyed from '70s cinema, that strong sense of conspiracy, and I really want the show to play as a psychological thriller. So, having competing factions circling around Damien, putting pressure on him, really adds a lot of drama to the show.

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Bradley James in Damien (2016)

With shows like "Lucifer", why Satan is big right now:

I think horror is doing really well on TV. I think the audience has shown up and loves to be excited about this type of material. I think we've gone through our waves of vampires and zombies. And now the unnamed evil is something that's interesting. I think there's a marketplace pattern to this. People feel threatened. We live in scary times. When you think of the things that people around the world are facing, people are anxious. That unnamed dread is something that is in the zeitgeist. And what better way to express that than to look at the nature of evil itself!?

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Glen Mazzara

Is it harder to root for the Antichrist than, say, Walter White or Tony Soprano?

The audience likes complex characters. If you look at characters throughout history, if you look at Milton's Satan or Faust or anyone who deals with the devil in a certain way, those complex stories are something that people have always turned to to answer basic questions like "Why is there death?" "Is God responsible for evil? Or "Is God an absent landlord?" I think the audience doesn't really want cookie-cutter heroes. I think they want their characters to feel real, even if they're in extraordinary circumstances. I think they want them to be complex. I think they want to be entertained and be thrilled. But there's an audience for some perhaps more thoughtful material.