When it comes to vampires, the stereotype is steeped in Gothic romanticism—a dark and handsome nobleman or temptress with a foreign accent who just happens to want to feed on your hemoglobin. Not so with the blood suckers that are the villains at the heart of the FX horror drama series The Strain.
By the time you read this, The Strain’s third season will have kicked off on Aug. 28. Based on the novel trilogy of the same name that was created by renowned filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pacific Rim) and crime novelist Chuck Hogan (Prince of Thieves, The Killing Moon).
For the duo’s take on this ancient monstrosity, these creatures are vile, predatory hairless parasites possessing an extensive tongue with which to turn its victim and having this vampirism become a global pandemic that is led by a singular leader named The Master. And while the seeds for this approach were planted by del Toro, it didn’t take long for the creative partner he contacted out to immediately sign on.
“[Guillermo del Toro] had this idea for years. He thought of doing it different ways but people never really seemed to get the gist of it. By people, I mean producers or people that would finance it,” Hogan recalled. “He got the idea to do it himself. He’d never written a novel before. We both had the same agent and my agent asked me if I was interested. I told him that I’d have to hear the idea and I asked him to send me a 12-page outline. I was about a page and a half in and thought it was awesome. So I had to talk to him about it, not really knowing what he was looking for. I assumed he was looking for a horror writer. But what he was actually thinking about, and I thought this was a genius move, was marrying the horror genre to the crime procedural drama, which was my specialty. So we met, hit it off and started working on it and here we are, going into the third season.”
The duo ingeniously work in a far-reaching historical landscape that goes back to Nazi-Era Germany, the involvement of a sickly billionaire questing immortality and various levels of state and federal agencies including the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), of which only certain factions take up the task of fighting for humanity in this dystopia.
Leading the charge are a motley crew that include Holocaust survivor Professor Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), alcoholic CDC researcher Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and Ukrainian exterminator Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand). The fact that someone normally tasked with eliminating vermin winds up playing such a crucial role in a scenario like this is something that greatly appealed to Durand when he was offered the role.
“From the outside, people see Fet as just a regular, everyday kind of guy that’s making a living as a rat catcher. A lot of people would look past him walking down the street and maybe even look down on him because of his job,” Durand surmised. “But when this vampocalypse arose, he went from being a regular guy to being one of the most valuable people that you could have by your side during this kind of incident, just because of all the knowledge that he’s accrued over the years. Just everything you’d want to know about New York and the underground. He’s probably the only character in the show that’s blossoming throughout this apocalyptic time. He likes who he’s becoming and he likes that he’s needed and he’s thriving on it. I think he’s having the time of his life and he’s enjoying this higher level of extermination.”
While del Toro planted the seed for The Strain, the Fet character was one that Hogan was directly responsible for. As such, he’s worked directly with Durand to flesh out this fictional vampire exterminator. Both creator and actor are excited about Fet’s evolution, particularly the father-son bond he’s developed with Setrakian.
It’s been an especially wonderful ride for Durand, who because of his imposing 6’5” build, has spent the past 25 years playing heavies and bad guys that include heartless mercenaries (Martin Keamy in Lost), a neo-Nazi hitman (Jeeves in Smokin’ Aces) and a child pornographer (Mike in The Captive). And while his current character’s cockiness may have been initially off-putting, Durand is thrilled with how the writers have shaped Fet’s evolution.
“I think a lot of people saw him as a bad guy because he’s so sure of himself. He doesn’t hesitate when he’s making decisions and has saved a lot of lives because of that. He doesn’t mince words or actions and knows what’s right and wrong to him,” Durand explained. “So far, the more we kind of go through this world that’s falling apart, people are realizing that if they stay nearby him, they may have a better chance of surviving. It takes things in a totally different direction in the third season. From Fet’s perspective, we really get a chance to see what this guy is made of and why he is the way he is. It’s a very interesting journey and it was really fun to do it. I hope we get to do more of it for another season.”