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McG vows to honor 'Mortal Instruments' fans with new ABC Family 'Shadowhunters' series

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Now that it’s been announced that McG will executive-produce ABC Family’s Shadowhunters, the Chuck and O.C. veteran vows to honor the fans of the popular YA series.

Inspired by Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments, the story follows 18-year-old Clary Fray, who discovers her family history of Shadowhunters, and quickly gets thrown into their world of demon hunting alongside fairies, warlocks, vampires, and werewolves.

“I’ll be involved in every element of every decision of every episode of everything that is the show,” McG tells EW. “I take that very seriously.” Right now, McG will direct at least the first episode of the series, and likely more if he can work out the scheduling. Below, McG talks about his involvement with Shadowhunters and keeping fans happy with the latest iteration. 

EW: How did you first become involved with the Shadowhunters series?

McG: I was a fan of the books. I read the books and found them to be interesting stories. I liked Cassandra Clare’s voice, and I was engaged. I heard they were making a television show, and I’m friends with Karey Burke, who is the new head of ABC Family, and I trust her completely. She has a great aesthetic. She’s very sophisticated. And she’s doing exciting new things out there at that network along with [ABC Family President] Tom Ascheim. Those elements came together, and I thought I would take a look at the script. I read it and responded to it. And I’ve got a good idea of how I think I can honor the fans and really make an exciting show week in and week out.

Speaking of the fans, what’s it like jumping into a project that already has such a rabid fan base?

I think it’s exciting. My style is to be open and communicative and talk about what we can and can’t do with the realistic parameters of television. But I think everybody’s expectations of television is so high now with Game of Thrones, and there’s such excellence out there that we plan to recognize that and take it even higher. So I find it empowering and encouraging. I take it very seriously, and I’m doing a great deal of listening.

Will the story lines follow the books, and in what ways are you trying to separate this project from the movie, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones?

The mythology is very much in keeping with the book. I look at the television format for the fans to engage evermore deeply in the stories and the characters because you have more hours to parcel out the story itself. So I think that’s an exciting opportunity. If I’m honest, I find myself more and more excited about what’s going on in the TV space than most of what is going on in a theatrical space. I mean maybe four or five movies a year really change my life and there’s got to be 20 or 30 television shows that I think are absolutely extraordinary. I feel like most people feel that way.

What, if any, interaction have you had with Cassandra Clare?

Just limited interaction, but I plan to go and kiss the ring and do a great deal of listening and trying to plug in to her special brand of magic. I have a great deal of respect for artists who can capture the imagination of the global community. It’s really a special gift, and it’s its own brand of genius. I have maximum respect for her, so I can’t wait to sit with her and do a great deal of listening and incorporate that in my style and hopefully do her words a great deal of honor.

Anything else you want to add about the project? 

We’re just trying to bring the cinematic experience to the television form one hour at a time, one week at a time. And we’re absolutely passionate about honoring the fans and delivering on the promise of the book series. 

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