Famke Janssen adds immediate credibility to any project she works on.
While she would never admit it herself, the personable actress has one of the most impressive resumes in Hollywood, establishing herself as a powerhouse on both the big and small screens and offers an instant presence to Netflix’s Hemlock Grove.
Arguably best known for her role as Jean Grey in the X-Men movie franchise, Famke has garnered critical acclaim for her portrayal of Olivia on the series which recently premiered its sophomore season.
Hemlock Grove debuted last year and the horror-thriller is based on the 2012 book novel by Brian McGreevy. Both the book and the series are set in the fictional Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, a place known for its clear class distinction where you are either really rich or simply struggling to make ends meet. The town’s main sources of employment are the Hemlock Acres Hospital and the Godfrey Institute for Biomedical Technologies.
The story primarily revolves around Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgard), heir to the town’s wealthy Godfrey family, and his friendship with the town’s gypsy newcomer Peter Romancek (Landon Liboiron). In the first season, the reluctant and new-age crimefighting duo work together to solve a series of brutal murders that are being committed by a Vargulf (a mentally insane werewolf). Along the way, they not only discover secrets about themselves, but about all the people around them as well.
On the series, Janssen plays Olivia Godfrey. An upir (vampire), Godfrey’s primary function on the show is to guide her reluctant son, Roman, on the path that he was always destined to walk along. Despite his resistance, his mother is the only one who is fully aware of what he is capable of and their strained relationship is the core of the series. Olivia is manipulative, conniving, demanding and despicable but strangely also has a layer of likeability to her as well. The multifaceted character tows the line between being a vicious villain to an overprotective mother, displaying no real disparity between the two. The character is deliciously complex and, as a result, is the perfect role for Janssen to sink her teeth into.
I recently caught up with Famke Janssen to discuss how much the show has changed in its second incarnation from its first. I asked her about how Olivia redeemed herself at the end of the first season and whether this search for righteousness will continue in Hemlock Grove’s second season. In general we chatted about how the second season primarily devotes itself to humanizing its characters and making them much easier to relate to. Janssen talked about Olivia’s relationship with her son in great detail and also previewed the addition of Madeline Brewer (Orange Is The New Black) to the cast as well. With the crazy storyline twists that happen in every episode, I asked Janssen which script stunned her the most. Finally, I pitched her on an idea for a new character for the show’s third season.