WARNING! This article has spoilers for the last two episodes of NOS4A2 season 1.
Fans of NOS4A2 got two bites of the recently-renewed horror show Sunday night, as AMC’s Joe Hill adaptation concluded it’s debut season with a pair of action (and revelation) packed episodes. By the end, the circumstances of many characters had dramatically changed with Zachary Quinto‘s much-aged, if still terrifying, Charlie Manx recovering in a hospital room, and Ashleigh Cummings’ troubled, and now pregnant, heroine Vic McQueen paired-up with series’ newcomer Jonathan Langdon’s Lou Carmody. The father of Vic’s child? That would be Dalton Harrod’s Craig, who, having survived his bloody encounter with the deranged Bing Partridge (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), ultimately endured a fiery demise in Manx’s Rolls-Royce Wraith.
“I was a little bit heartbroken,” says Cummings of reading the scripts for the season’s final two episodes. “I was in shock. I remember reading Craig’s death, which I had no idea was happening, and flicking through to the end to see if that actually happened and he wasn’t going to miraculously come back. But it was a finality. Premature death is something that I’ve experienced more regularly than I would have liked to in my own life. I think it will be really wonderful to explore how one deals with grief, how one deals with the loss of a loved one, especially as she’s pregnant with his child.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I thought Bing Partridge had actually killed Craig at the start of the episode. After discovering that wasn’t the case, I assumed he would survive the season. But it was not to be!
ASHLEIGH CUMMINGS: Yep, it’s a good old game that those writers know how to play very well, by instilling a piece of hope and then snatching it away. [Laughs] But it makes for great drama.
These two episodes seemed very much torn from the pages of Joe Hill’s original book.
Right, and then that moment sweeps the rug out from under your feet. Yeah, I think Jami [O’Brien, showrunner] and all the writers have been very clever in the way they’ve handled the adaptation. They’ve really stuck to the heart and the essence of Joe’s novel and just expanded upon certain grooves.
I know you are always keen to credit the show’s stunt team, but it looked like these two episodes were quite physical for you.
Yes. I hate to talk about this, but I did have some tears in my neck and shoulder and I burnt my eyeball at one point. Luckily the eyeball is the fastest-healing organ in the body. I was doing that stupid stoic thing where you don’t really let anyone know about what’s happening and they thought I was just staying in character. [Laughs] But I ended up going to the hospital, and Jami was the person that picked me up in the morning, and took me to the pharmacy. So, I did do my own stunts with the help of a stunt double who came in to clean up the stuff that I couldn’t do with my neck and my shoulder. Her name is Jesse and she was wonderful. The stunt coordinator was phenomenal. I was so well looked after.
You have a couple of showdowns with Zachary’s character, at the gas station and then later in the hospital. What were those scenes like to shoot?
Gosh. They were very different scenes. The one that we shot at the gas station, there were a lot of elements that were involved in it, whereas the scene in the hospital was fairly simple, that was more of a performance moment. The one at the gas station I think we shot over two days and the director did a phenomenal job of coordinating all the moving parts to make what I feel is a very wonderful whole. It was freezing! I couldn’t get my fingers to work because of the cold, and so I couldn’t light the damn lighter. So, the stunt double had to do that! [Laughs] I just couldn’t light it. Also, I wasn’t really allowed to be near the open flame when I drop it on to the hood. So, yeah, it was freezing cold and it was all of us doing our best to not have our jaws shaking during the shot. [Laughs] I think everyone just about murdered me because I screamed. I do have a good scream. That is my strong point as an actor [laughs] but it’s not good for any of the sound department. People I think were concerned because it reverberated around the streets, and I think a couple of people were concerned that someone was getting murdered, which I guess kind of was what was going on.
Having read the book, I guess the revelation that your character is pregnant should not have surprised me — but it did.
Yeah. Me as well! You’re reeling in the shock of what just happened and that drops on you. The whole thing is totally heartbreaking and I empathize a lot with the situation. I know someone who went through an almost identical experience. For me, as an actor, my job is just honoring people who go through grief, and loss, and the immense strength that it takes to force through. I’m really excited to explore that and honor that story and those people in a second season.
Tell us about Jonathan Langdon.
When I was able to look at the audition tape of Johnathan it had such a brilliant synergy of all kinds of energies, and innocence, and humor, and heartbreak. There’s just this goodness of heart that he has as a human.
It was somehow refreshing that his character just believed all this seemingly crazy stuff Vic is telling him.
I know, isn’t that a beautiful moment? The shoot was extraordinarily intense, obviously, just because the content is quite dark, and we’d all been in the cold in Rhode Island, and we’d formed this wonderful family. Johnathan came in, and he slotted right in, and after everything that Vic went through, I remember that moment when I got to hug him and just say thank you. For me, personally, it was such a nice relief. That moment was very true. I looked at him and was just so grateful to have someone on board so easily, and lovingly, and Ashleigh and Vic were so grateful to have someone who was genuinely supportive. He was right there with me when I was doing my emotional scenes and was so caring when we’d had very little sleep, and we immediately had each other’s backs, and we’re looking forward to working with him further.
So, have you been told anything about season 2?
I know literally nothing. [Laughs] I’m going into the writers’ room next week, so I guess I’ll find out a little more then. At this point, I’ve reread the last two-thirds of the book again in preparation. Intermittently, all year, I’ve been studying it. From the moment I signed on, I’ve been really interested in this part of Vic’s journey through her mental health issues, and so on. I’m really excited about it and have been ruminating, and my head’s been ticking over with ideas and thoughts. But I couldn’t tell you anything!