Castlevania showrunner Adi Shankar talks about the Netflix series
The animated Castlevania series is now streaming all four episodes of season one on Netflix. The show was recently renewed for a second season, which will feature eight episodes. We recently got a chance to speak to showrunner Adi Shankar about the show, his horror influences and what might be coming in Season 2.
The Castlevania cast features the voice talents of Graham McTavish (The Hobbit, Preacher) as Dracula, Richard Armitage (The Hobbit trilogy) as Trevor Belmont, James Callis (Battlestar Galactica) as Alucard, Emily Swallow (Supernatural) as Lisa, Matt Frewer (Orphan Black) as The Bishop, Tony Amendola (Annabelle) as The Elder and Alejandra Reynoso (G.I. Joe: Renegades) as Sypha Belnades. Castlevania is executive produced by Warren Ellis, Kevin Kolde, Adi Shankar and Fred Seibert.
ComingSoon.net: I just marathoned Castlevania and I loved it!
Adi Shankar: Thank you! You make something in a vacuum, especially when it fits into a paradigm of something that doesn’t really fit. You have no idea how people are going to respond to it, so thank you.
CS: Were you surprised by the positive response?
Shankar: Yes, absolutely. I was pleasantly surprised that it crossed over the way it has, because it’s crossed over into the pop culture zeitgeist zone. I didn’t expect that. Ultimately this was a show made by the fans, like me and everyone else who worked on it, for Castlevania fans. So that fact that people who haven’t played the game and tangentially heard about it are fans, that’s amazing.
CS: I know this has been in the works for a while. Can you tell us how you got involved?
Shankar: There have been a lot of iterations of this and I think there is a lot of misinformation out there as well, right? For instance, I had a reporter ask me earlier, ‘oh hey, so at one point you were going to do this live action, right?’ and I was like, no, no. Absolutely not. I was offered a Castlevania show or a live-action Castlevania movie, but it was a different team, you know? No one involved in this iteration – it was different. So yeah, there is a lot of misinformation floating out there.
CS: When I finished the four episodes, I was like, wait, I want to see more! I had heard that when Warren Ellis first wrote this, it was done as a trilogy and that the next eight episodes would wrap up the trilogy. Do you have plans beyond Season 2?
Shankar: Have you played the games?
CS: Yup! All of them.
Shankar: Right, so as far ask I’m concerned, Castlevania is the story of multiple generations of a family… the games have provided a phenomenal blueprint.
CS: Is there a specific one of the many games that you’d like to use as an influence in one of the future seasons?
Shankar: Yeah, Kid Dracula. I’m kidding. That’s a joke. You know, it’s not about saying, hey, it’s just one game. As you know, as someone who has played the all the games, they kind of bleed into each other. It’s like the events of one game affect the next game. No, there isn’t one game in particular. I mean, I can tell you personally that my favorite game is Symphony of the Night, but that is because I’m 32. Basically I started – the PS1 era was very special to me, so it makes sense that Symphony of the Night would be a video game touchstone for me, personally. But each generation has their own touchstones. And it’s something, quite frankly, that means different things to different people.
CS: You had an incredible cast for this. How involved were you in casting? Who would you like to have — dream casting – for Season 2?
Shankar: Johnny Depp. [laughs] The beauty of it was, they all auditioned. It’s not like – are you familiar with my other show Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets?
Shankar: So that show, and the Bootleg Universe, those were all cast via text message. I picked up my phone and I was like, ‘Yo, Thomas Jane! You should do it!” Or “Yo, Van Der Beek, what are you up to? The show is at 2:30am on a Tuesday!” But this, obviously it was like a professional show! There was not texting of cast members at two in the morning, trying to get them to show up. [laughs] We had a wonderful casting director named Meredith [Layne]… so it was just the audition process. They sent us tapes and we listened to them and picked the ones that we felt really nailed the characters. It was very tough because we had so many great people who came our way, wanting to be a part of the show and a lot of great options to choose from.
CS: What was it like having the freedom to do an adult-focused animated series on Netflix?
Shankar: The advent of streaming technology has created opportunities for me as a storyteller that simply would not have existed a few years ago.
CS: Is there anything you can tell us about your upcoming Assassin’s Creed series?
Shankar: I literally can’t say anything about it other than I’m lucky. I’m just lucky! I’m just f****** lucky, you know what I mean? What the f***? I was literally on the brink of being kicked out of everything with the copyright situation with Power/Rangers, with the whole Bootleg Universe, and all of a sudden, that didn’t end up happening and resulted in all these corporations I was basically making fun of calling me and saying hey, why aren’t you working on our IP? It’s just amazing. I guess I’m finally waking up to the fact that I’m super blessed.
CS: What are your horror influences for this series?
Shankar: For Castlevania, the references I threw out to the team a lot were basically Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D. I thought Warren Ellis, who is arguably one of the greatest living authors today, wrote an amazing script. And I was like, to do this script justice, let’s not just do the coverage, master, medium close up, traditional television directing thing. Let’s do actual legit cinematic storytelling that is kind of absent, I would argue, from movies today. And that’s why you see some of these shots, and there’s actual choreography there, with specific camera moves and very specific shot design.
CS: You had some kick-ass women in this story and I wanted to ask how important that is to you when you’re doing something like this.
Shankar: It’s interesting because, you know, I am obviously a minority. I am an immigrant. I immigrated to America when I was 16, and I grew up in the ’90s when American entertainment was the preeminent global thing. And I never saw myself on screen. So to me, it’s not as much about having kick-ass women for the sake of having kick-ass women, but at the same time I want to reflect reality. And the truth is, when you look around the world, there’s a lot of kick-ass women that I know. My friend Gina Carano can beat up every dude I’m friends with. Again, it wouldn’t be important to me if it wasn’t true. But it is true, right? And it’s the same thing with Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets. It’s loaded with kick-ass women. But again, it’s not because it’s a thing. I don’t feel any pressure to change characters or do things in a specific way. The only person who actually is not a f*** up in the show is Sypha [Alejandra Reynoso]. Right? I mean, Trevor [Richard Armitage] is an alcoholic, Dracula [Graham McTavish] is so blinded by rage that he thinks he’s the hero of his own story, but he’s really the villain. The church is not bad, but it’s just the people controlling the church – in the story they’re using the church as a tool to accumulate more power for themselves. So, you know, Sypha is the only reasonable character in the show, who has her s*** together. I feel like that’s a pretty accurate representation of my experience with most women.
What did you guys think of Castlevania Season 1? Are you excited for the next eight episodes? What would you like to see in Assassin’s Creed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or tweet us @ComingSoonnet.