The cast and producers take us to Midnight, Texas
Based on a trilogy of books by Charlaine Harris (who also wrote the books that True Blood was based on), NBC‘s Midnight, Texas is set in the eponymous small Texas town, populated by… well, strange people. Manfred (Francois Arnaud) is the new guy in town, a psychic directed to the town by his dead grandmother. Upon arrival, he meets a host of unique characters: Joe (Jason Lewis), who has wings coming out of his back; Lem (Peter Mensah), a vampire; Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley), a witch; the reverend (Yul Vasquez), a were-tiger; and Olivia (Arielle Kebbel), who has “more secrets than the rest of them,” but who may be a hitwoman. Rounding out the cast is Bobo (Dylan Bruce), the local pawn shop owner, and Creek (Sarah Ramos), Manfred’s burgeoning love interest. Olivia, Bobo, and Creek are humans.
Executive producers Monica Owusu-Breen and David Janollari both fell in love with the Midnight books when they read them, but they hit especially close to home for Owusu-Breen. Two years ago, her mother, her mother-in-law, and her dog all died in the same month. “I wanted to develop something to take my mind off of it,” she said at the NBC Summer Press Day. Two chapters into the first book, she called her agent. “I had to. My mother lived in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. My mother-in-law was a psychic who moved to a small town, so I feel like maybe they’re watching. It would be weird for me not to develop this.” Owusu-Breen also loves “small town shows,” where your neighbors look out for you. “It’s about people who are willing to accept each other’s differences despite being so different. They are all in it to protect Midnight and there is something really hopeful about that.”
Janollari believes that this is an exceptional cast. “I think everyone is going to fall in love with them.” Owusu-Breen says that, with the exception of a few roles, they cast with open diversity. “We wanted the heart of these characters. They are so special. For lack of a better word, they feel like Midnighters.”
The actors all managed to humanize their non-human roles. Fitz-Henley sees Fiji as not a witch, but a scientist and a healer. Vasquez’s reverend does not struggle with what he does as a non-human, but how the human part of him deals with the non-human part. Kebbel, who just reprised her role as a vampire on the final episode of The Vampire Diaries, likes just being a human in love with a vampire in Midnight, Texas. “One of my favorite things was leeching,” she says. “It’s more intimate — or at least as intimate — as sex.”
Midnight, Texas does not actually shoot in Texas. They shoot in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they built a small town in the middle of the desert, behind their sound stages. “It’s the weirdest thing to go out there and just see this little town that was built out of nothing,” says Owusu-Breen.
With so many monsters, one would imagine that there is a lot of CGI. And there is. Joe’s wings are CGI, as is the were-tiger. But according to Arnaud, the show’s amazing special effects team fight to keep as much as possible done with makeup and prosthetics. “It really helps us in our work, to ground us in a reality where it gives you something to play with. You have actual monsters that look terrifying,” he says.
If you are familiar with Charlaine Harris’ work, you know that sex is not something she shies away from. But this being a network series, even at 10pm, there is only so far they can go. “I think you get to see some steamy scenes,” Lewis promises. Owusu-Breen was surprised that the network hasn’t requested any cuts.
Midnight, Texas premieres July 25th at 10pm on NBC.