The Strain Set Visit Diaries: Corey Stoll

This past spring, The Televixen joined a group of journalists for a two-day visit to the Toronto set of The Strain. Now that Season 2 has kicked off, we are going to share some of what we learned in an ongoing series called “The Strain Set Visit Diaries”. The first chapter features highlights from our conversation with Corey Stoll (Ephraim Goodweather).

Eph fell off the wagon at the end of Season 1. The drinking continues this season, but according to Stoll, it’s allowed Eph to lighten up a bit.

“He can hold his liquor really well. But he’s definitely drinking a lot. When I was able to see the first season all cut together, I could see how it was hard not to fall into a somber mode with where the stakes are and all the awful things that happen to my character. It’s actually nice to have a device that enables me to have some distance and to have a little bit more of a sense of humor in the midst of all this craziness.”

Although Eph is a “happy drunk” according to Stoll, the drinking does have an effect on one relationship in particular: between Eph and his son, Zack.

“He’s a terrible dad. He is trying and — this is something that’s been part of his character from the pilot — he’s very quick to make promises that he can’t uphold, and he’s continuing in that. Towards the end of the season, Zack is getting hip to that and calls him on it. That’s been a fun change to the dynamic with Zack. It’s becoming much more adversarial and not quite so lovey-dovey.”

The Eph and Nora relationship also faces some challenges in Season 2.

“It goes all over the map. I think there was a lot more politeness in the first season. Everybody’s a little afraid and [Nora] really gets a great chance to show her strength and that she’s not just going to be pushed around. She definitely pushes back pretty hard.”

As we saw in the season premiere, everyone is living in very close quarters at Fet’s loft, which creates an interesting dynamic.

“It’s an awesome set [and] sort of like that first season on The Real World. It’s brilliant in terms of all the potential for great interactions, seeing across the house from one person’s bedroom to the other, or entrances and exits. But everybody’s on top of each other and there isn’t much privacy.”

With as many opportunities as this set opens up, we won’t be seeing much interaction between Eph and Setrakian this season.

“There’s been a lot less contact between Setrakian and Eph this season. I have a feeling it’s going to come back into play in later seasons. It’s unfortunate, I actually haven’t had that much with [David Bradley]. We come into each other’s orbits, but very briefly. I definitely hope that it follows the books, or follows similar terrain as the books, because I love working with him.”

With everything that Eph has seen since this story began, his beliefs are still grounded in science.

“He has sort of selective blindness. He still very much thinks of himself as a man of science, and he happens to have opened up the boundaries of what’s possible. In his worldview, he assumes there are scientific answers for them, they just don’t have them yet. The great thing about playing the character, too, is that he’s so forward-moving. He’s all about solutions. He understands there’s a lot of things he doesn’t understand, but he can put those things aside and focus on what he does.”

Despite Eph’s faith in science, he doesn’t think that the strigoi can be saved, including his ex-wife, Kelly.

“He believes that it is a terminal condition and so the only way to stop the spread is to kill all the strigoi. A lot of the back-and-forth tension between Zack and Eph is about getting Zack to understand that [Kelly’s] gone, and to really accept that. It takes a while. [Zack’s] really stubborn.”

The first season ended on a rather bleak note with The Master not being defeated. That doesn’t mean that this merry band of survivors has necessarily given up.

“It was such a defeat at the end of the first season. There’s definitely more of a sense of there are things we can do. There are options open, there are strategies that we can employ, so in that sense it’s more positive. But there’s more human misery piled up over the course of the season, and a lot of awful things have happened. It’s very forward-moving but yet still dark.”

Photo Courtesy of FX

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