While only the first three episodes of A&E’s companion series to the 1976 cult classic film The Omen have aired, the season as a whole is what has the cast & crew of Damien really excited.
“The show’s gonna get darker,” assures Executive Producer Glen Mazzara (The Shield). “I mean, it gets really dark.” That’s saying something for a show that, by its third episode, has already had a man mauled to death by dogs and one escalator-related death. “We go into some pretty dark territory, so it will be interesting to see how the middle of the season plays, there’s some stuff that takes some risks, and then the end of the season is just a freight train. I’m really really proud of the finale, and I think people will be pleased when they see how it all comes together, and all the questions people have about Damien will be answered. I’m excited for people to see it.”
Promising closure isn’t something most execs are comfortable doing, but the enthusiasm and passion for this show extends to the cast as well. Scott Wilson, who previously worked with Mazzara on The Walking Dead, was excited to work with the producer again. “It just took the suggestion that he wanted me, and then I wouldn’t let it go.”
Damien, a cocktail of thriller, cable-airable horror and drama, boasts a delightful and enthusiastic cast. Omid Abtahi (Argo, 24) and Megalyn Echikunwoke (House of Lies, Vixen) both love their characters and their respective roles in the show. “For my character, I basically have creative license to build that backstory because she’s new,” said Echikunwoke. “I like that she wasn’t clearly defined, because it gives you an opportunity as an actor to really play.”
“I liked that he wasn’t a terrorist,” joked Abtahi. “I’ve played a lot of terrorists.”
“For me, to play a character who’s Middle Eastern, who’s not involved in terrorism at all, and speaks in my own accent, that’s a breath of fresh air,” he says. “I go, ‘You want me to speak Arabic or something?’ and [Glen’s] like, ‘No, why?'”
The stars are also very proud of the workers behind the camera. “The writing doesn’t really adhere to one genre. That’s one cool thing about the show, it kind of traverses genres,” says Echikunwoke.
The Omen was a 1976 horror film that spawned three sequels, all following the titular Damien Thorn. Damien, a child in the original story, has grown into a seasoned war photographer at the start of the series, who always seems to follow tragedy–or, more accurately, tragedy seems to follow him. Unbeknownst to Damien, he’s actually (honestly, literally) the Antichrist, destined to bring about the end of the world.
“He is half human, like Christ is half human. But the human part of him couldn’t handle the facts, and blanked it out,” explains Barbara Hershey (Once Upon a Time, Black Swan), “like people do when horrendous things happen in childhood. And he was always attracted to pain and became a war photographer, because what’s more painful than war?”
Bradley James (Merlin, iZombie), who plays the titular antihero, is excited to take on the many bloody tasks of the Antichrist. “I enjoy this role so much that I’ve never had any difficulty putting the work in,” he says (in his native British accent). “It’s a challenge, a wonderful challenge.”
Although the three sequels in The Omen franchise followed Damien into adulthood (and even saw his children), they aren’t part of the canon of the series. “In the second movie, I thought the child was very cognizant that he was evil and had a task, and I wanted it to play out in a different way. When you see what we do throughout the season, you’ll see what I’m going for.”
“Pretty soon in the show, he starts to realize that he has to sooner or later deal with the supernatural element in his life. That’s coming up very quickly,” previews Mazzara. “He’s going kicking and screaming down into hell, so it’s a matter of making that journey as interesting and as complex and as surprising as possible.” He adds, “Bradley James does a great job of injecting humanity into the character, while making sure he’s always taking one step down that path.”
The biggest takeaway is that in regards to Damien’s past and future, we’ll be guessing up until the very end. “I think the questions are more fun than the answers,” laughs Hershey. “Is there such a thing as pre-ordained destiny? Can you fight your destiny? That’s one of the questions of the show. Aside from ‘What would it feel like to be the Antichrist?'”
Damien airs Monday at 10/9 pm on A&E.