“Penny Dreadful” delivered a jaw-dropping moment in last week’s episode when Eva Green’s Vanessa Ives became possessed during a séance.
But, the cast and crew had a curious surprise of their own while filming that very scene, according to Timothy Dalton, who plays Sir Malcolm.
“In the middle of that scene, in a quiet moment, in a pause, I don’t know the name of the butterfly, but it’s a red and black butterfly, maybe a Red Admiral they’re called, fluttered across the stage and landed on the table, silently, whilst we were filming,” he explained. “And then, everyone [was] going, ‘Oh my God. Look at that. It’s a sign. It’s a sign!’”
In fact, while filming sequences for the Showtime drama, from creator John Logan (“Gladiator”), the delicate insects made their presence known again and again.
“What was actually happening, I believe, is… these studios are big, they’re old. They’d obviously been dark for some time, but now, with the activity and the heat from the lamp… these butterflies were actually hatching out. … [It was] completely the wrong time of year, because we were in the winter, but the warmth of the activity and the lights was doing this and they were just occasionally fluttering around,“ Dalton continued. “But in a séance, to land on the table like a spirit, that was odd. It was magic, it was marvelous. I loved it. I thought, ‘This is a great sign.’”
Dalton’s character, Sir Malcolm, has spent the first two episodes of the Showtime freshman series looking for signs of his own – ones related to his missing daughter. And he fearlessly took on supernatural creatures of the London underworld (known as the demimonde) in the show’s premiere earlier this month, to try and find Mina, his child.
“He goes and does what he has to do,” Dalton said, when Access asked about his character’s fearlessness. “That, to me, is the definition of bravery. It’s not being foolhardy or stupid, it’s being scared and having the courage to overcome fear — and that’s because he’s looking for his daughter.”
Finding Mina seems to be the central driving force of the show, but when Access asked how complex Sir Malcolm’s storyline is beyond his missing daughter, Dalton hinted that the world of “Penny Dreadful” will continue to grow and expand.
“The spine of this first series is that quest, but it’s not quite as straightforward as it might seem,” Dalton said. “I mean, you’ve already had a clue because you know he’s searching for her in a — in what Vanessa calls a demimonde, and what I call the space between living and death.
“She’s been taken by something — by the undead,” he continued. “To want to rescue her, I think, is phenomenally brave actually,” Dalton said. “I mean, to walk into the hall, the shadows of death, thinking you can take on death and retrieve your daughter, is both brave and mad. … And, I think this whole thing of him being African explorer, searching for the source of the Nile, whilst being absolutely true in a backstory, is also a metaphor for an obsessive mad quest. And the kind of person that is obsessive and ruthless, is… a man that will take on all odds.”
While Sir Malcolm and Vanessa have been working together to round up power players, like Josh Hartnett’s sharp-shooting Ethan Chandler, and Harry Treadaway’s Dr. Victor Frankenstein, to help them in their quest, Sir Malcolm and Vanessa’s relationship is still very mysterious.
“I can’t give that one away,” Dalton said, when Access asked him how complicated things get for the pair. “But, believe me, it’s very complicated. And she too is on a quest of her own, and it’s only at this moment in time that both these stories have meshed, because we both need to get my daughter Mina.”
Sir Malcom and Vanessa’s relationship will continue to be revealed on Sunday nights. But as for Dalton and Green, the British actor sounded delighted when he mentioned filming scenes like the seance, wiith Green.
“Let me tell you, that girl Eva, I love her, I adore her,” he said. “She is so good. She is so committed. She’s just got a fantastic emotional intelligence and connection.”
“Penny Dreadful” continues Sunday at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime.
-- Jolie Lash