In AMC’s NOS4A2, Zachary Quinto plays Charlie Manx, an evil immortal supernatural villain who feeds off the souls of children then deposits their remains into a place called Christmasland. Based on the novel by Joe Hill, Executive Producer and Showrunner Jami O’Brien looked to, of all things, Pinocchio as a source of inspiration. She was joined at TCA by cast members Quinto and Ashleigh Cummings to talk about the adaptation and its supernatural scope.
“The adaptation process was about trying to honor the spirit of the book as best we can in television… it’s a different medium,” says O’Brien. With that, she saw Christmasland as a “land for the lost boys” like in Pinocchio. “It’s a place that is an amusement park and every day is fun…and every day can’t be Christmas Day because if it is, children can become demonic.”
In the fantastical Christmasland, unhappiness is against the law and Vic (Cummings) is out to defeat Manx and rescue his victims without losing her mind or falling victim to him herself. As the title suggests, Manx is a kind of vampire, but instead of blood, he sucks souls. Cummings says throughout the season, we see the backstories of the characters and Manx’s victims. There is a big theme of the loss of innocence with the children. Cumming says the show asks: “How do we nurture them? How do we look after them in the best way so their psychology isn’t damaged and wounded?”
Quinto points out that this theme even extends to his character, saying that the series goes into how Manx’s origins in manipulating children and how he himself was abused in horrible ways. He says the show goes into “understanding the origins of trauma and how if it goes unexamined and unprocessed it can lead to warped and damaged psyches.”
Despite that, Quinto assures that the child actors on the show were protected and grounded. “The kids who play those demonic children were incredibly well-adjusted,” he says.