There were a few big changes to Hemlock Grove for its second season: There was a new showrunner (Chic Eglee), the storyline departed from the book and Olivia (Famke Janssen) stopped wearing white. But there was another significant change to the season, one Janssen enthuses over: The addition of Floria Sigismondi and Sanaa Hamri as directors. What makes them stand out? They’re women.
Speaking to the media, including Cinefilles, earlier this week, Janssen explained, “There’s a lack of female directors in America. […] Last season, [Hemlock Grove] had zero female directors, so this season to have two is a really big jump up.” Actually, in terms of horror on TV, it’s on par with Supernatural (and by on par, I mean well beyond–in 195 episodes, it’s only had two female directors) and it’s got American Horror Story beat (with its grand total of zero in the last three seasons). To quote Janssen, “I hope one day we get to the point where we don’t even have to specify gender any more when we’re talking about a director but we’re very much not in that state right now.”
Janssen herself has been getting more into directing and writing herself. In 2011, she wrote and directed her debut feature, Bringing Up Bobby, which premiered at Cannes. However, when asked how the directing and writing background has impacted her acting career, she replied, “Not good,” and laughed. “What ends up happening is that I think now as a writer, director or producer,” she explained, “I constantly feel this ticking clock. It’s like, ‘Oh my god, what time is it? How many scenes have we done? So that means we’re this much behind schedule?’ ‘Do you want another take Famke?’ ‘No no no, I’m fine, I’m good,’ whereas an actor I should say, ‘Yes, I need another take,’ I was really not in it because I was worried about your timetable and how you’re doing in the day.’ ” However, she said with time, she’s learned to balance the various roles.
When asked if she’d ever consider writing an episode of Hemlock herself, Janssen hesitated (“It’s an interesting question”). And she admitted that the genre isn’t exactly in her wheelhouse and the gore actually makes her squeamish. When it comes to the graphic scenes, she closes her eyes. “I never see the finished product. I have to fast forward through these pieces. I honestly do; it’s too brutal to me,” she laughed. “I hear we’re great and I congratulate everybody on their work.”
Season 2 of Hemlock Grove premiered on July 11 on Netflix Canada.