TV

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

David Bradley relishes chance to play lead on del Toro's 'The Strain'

  • Print

David Bradley has earned a rabid fan following, with roles including Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch in the "Harry Potter" films, head-chopping Walder Frey in HBO's "Game of Thrones" — and perhaps especially for portraying William Hartnell, the First Doctor in the BBC "Doctor Who" drama "An Adventure in Space and Time."

Bradley, 72, is as surprised as anyone to be so in demand for big budget sword-and-sorcerer roles at this stage of his career.

"It's like they say about buses," he says. "You're waiting forever and along comes four at once."

The latest project from the silver-haired Yorkshire native is the new Guillermo del Toro vampire thriller "The Strain." The uber scary, shot-in-Toronto production premieres Sunday on FX and FX Canada.

During a bitterly cold shoot a few months back, Bradley admitted that the role of Professor Abraham Setrakian — a Holocaust survivor turned vampire hunter — was demanding.

"At times you feel your age," he said. "The last fortnight we've been dealing with quite a lot of firing off nail guns at three, four o'clock in the morning. We've been filming right through the night for two weeks."

Bradley joked that the producers probably assumed he had a lot of sword wielding experience (he had a distinguished stage career beginning in the early '70s with the Royal Shakespeare Company) but that's not really the case. He prepared for a lot of the physical stunt work with coaches hired for the series.

"The Strain" is based on a series of vampire novels written by del Toro and collaborator Chuck Hogan. It was originally pitched to Fox as a TV series and was turned down, leading to del Toro's decision to turn it into a series of books. The success of the novels brought the project to FX, where "The Strain" found plenty of time to incubate. Del Toro, a busy film maverick, was teamed with seasoned TV showrunner Carlton Cuse ("Lost," "Bates Motel").

Used to the demands of network television where 22- or 23-episode seasons are still the norm, Cuse was thrilled to have time to concentrate on 13 episodes. Conceptual artists were hired to consult with del Toro on the visual style of the show. A year was spent casting the series.

Corey Stoll ("House of Cards") stars as the head of a team investigating a mysterious viral outbreak in New York which seems to be turning victims into bloodthirsty vampires. Jonathan Hyde plays Eldritch Palmer, an elderly billionaire trying to extend his life by any means necessary. In a role originally intended for del Toro's "Hellboy" star Ron Perlman, Kevin Durand ("Lost") plays a rat exterminator-turned-vampire fighter. Montreal-native Natalie Brown ("Sophie") play's Stoll's character's ex-wife who ignores his warnings about the deadly contagion.

"We waited for people," says Cuse of the cast, praising FX for their patience. Writers were hired six months ahead of shooting. The extra time also allowed del Toro and others to fine tune the creatures. "It's something you can't do in a normal pilot development season," says Cuse.

The one guy who was pretty much a last minute hire was Bradley. John Hurt had previously been announced for the role. "I had very little time to think about it," he says." My agent said, 'Can you go to Canada in four days time?'"

Bradley says he was swayed by those "three magic words — Guillermo del Toro." The actor was a big fan of the director's "Pan's Labyrinth." "Such a moving, human story," says Bradley, who sees the same complexity and detail in "The Strain." "It's nothing like the 'Twilight' series — there's nothing romantic or glamorous about it," he says of this truly frightening vampire drama. "Hopefully people will be able to keep their supper down when viewing it."

The role calls for him to spend some time in the makeup chair where he gets fixed with a stringy "half beard" as well as prosthetics to cover his character's crushed hands. "It means coming in an hour earlier," says Bradley.

While he cherished his supporting role on "Harry Potter," Bradley is thrilled to be such a central character on "The Strain." "It's good to have the responsibility of being one of the main characters. I relish that."

___

Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Jet goalie Michael Hutchinson

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- WINTER FILE. Snowboarder at Stony Mountain Ski Hill. November 14, 2006.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Scottish independence referendum will have an effect in Canada?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google