How Let the Right One In rose from the grave as a TV show

·6 min read

Let the Right One In executive producer Andrew Hinderaker admits that his small-screen version of John Ajvide Lindqvist's 2004 vampire novel was not the easiest project he could have chosen as a first-time showrunner.

"A showrunning mentor of mine said that if you want to make a shoot difficult and hard to achieve, the things that you want to make sure you employ are winter, exterior, nights, children, action, special effects," says Hinderaker. "We did all of them. I think 'being on a ship in the water' was the only thing that we didn't do in the show."


Francisco Roman/SHOWTIME Demián Bichir as Mark and Anika Noni Rose as Naomi Cole in 'Let the Right One In'

Demián Bichir plays Mark Kane, whose daughter, Eleanor, was transformed into a vampire 10 years before the start of the show. As a result, Mark must kill so that his offspring, portrayed by Madison Taylor Baez, can survive.

"She lived a normal life, she was a science nerd, she loved space, astronomy," says Baez of her character. "But that all changed when she was bitten by a creature at the age of 12, and now she and her father have to live a life where murder is her only way to survive. They need to kill so she can feed off of blood."

In the pilot, the pair move to New York and find themselves living next to (uh-oh) a homicide cop named Naomi Cole, played by Anika Noni Rose, and her young son Isaiah (Ian Foreman).

"She is a detective and she is a very determined spirit," says Rose of her character. "She's a single mother, raising her son essentially on her own, her ex-husband is not as in the picture as her son would like for him to be, so she is somebody who I think is used to doing things on her own."

Unsurprisingly, the two lonely children, Eleanor and Isaiah, swiftly become friendly. "Isaiah is a weird kid," says Rose. "He likes magic, he likes things that a lot of other kids don't like, [and] he gets punished at school for having his own interests. He gets bullied a lot, and he doesn't have any friends, so life is very lonely for him until the little girl moves in next door, and she doesn't find him weird. It's hard to find a magician weird when you're out drinking blood! But she is somebody who is not judgmental of him, who actually likes him as a person, and for the first time in a long time he has found someone who he thinks might be his friend."

While attempting to find a cure for her daughter's affliction, Mark secures a job at a restaurant. Don't be surprised if Bichir seems particularly convincing in that milieu given that he once worked at the NYC eatery Rosa Mexicana and later opened his own establishment, Rojo Bistrot, in Mexico City.

"It's a very very familiar environment for me," says the actor of shooting the show's restaurant scenes. "And to me is a nice way of honoring the 12 million undocumented workers who cook our food and take care of our babies and take care of our homes and help us to have a beautiful, happier, easier life. To me, the show is about many other things, not only, you know, fangs."


Francisco Roman/SHOWTIME Demián Bichir as Mark and Madison Taylor Baez as Eleanor in 'Let the Right One In'

Lindqvist's book has previously inspired two films: a Swedish adaptation in 2008 and an English language take two years later which starred Chloë Grace Moretz and was directed by The Batman filmmaker Matt Reeves. In the original novel and the two film versions, the father-figure looking after the young vampire is not actually her father, but Hinderaker reveals that it was an easy decision to make their bond familial in his adaptation.

"One of the things that I was very interested to explore was the lengths a parent will got to for their child," says the showrunner. "Will the love that [Mark] has for his daughter save both of their lives or will it ultimately destroy both their lives and will he be sucked into the darkness of her affliction? What better way to explore that tension than with that profound and unconditional love that a parent has for a child?"

Bichir believes that Eleanor's plight has resonance in the real world. "We see that many times in our daily lives, on the news all the time, how our kids dreams are broken or interrupted by different factors that we sometimes can't control," he says. "We have to fight with love and determination to help them overcome that."

In addition to tinkering with the franchise's core characters, Hinderaker is expanding the Let the Right One In universe. The showrunner has added a second family with a member afflicted by vampirism, a clan which includes characters played by Grace Gummer and Željko Ivanek as well as a helper portrayed by Nick Stahl.

"Our show focuses on not just one but two vampires and the family that is loving them, keeping them alive, trying to find a cure," says Hinderaker. "So we also see in our series, in a world that is isolated from the city, another family is looking after a vampire child."

Despite that previously mentioned laundry list of potential problems, Hinderaker describes the show's New York shoot as "fantastic" although the showrunner concedes that he did have an issue with a group of rats who were due to appear in a subterranean sequence.

"There's a moment in the pilot when this horde of rats stampedes past Demián's feet," says Hinderaker. "We wanted a real sense of authenticity and groundedness, so we brought in somewhere between 50 and 100 actual rats. The moment came to unleash the rats, and these gentle, wonderful lovely, more-mice-than-rats come stumbling out, doing everything they can to avoid the camera. You almost wanted them as pets. So, in the end, the rats you see in the picture are CGI because what we had on the day were a little too friendly for a horror show."

Watch the show's trailer below and see exclusive images from Let the Right One In above.

Let the Right One In is produced by Tomorrow Studios and premieres Oct. 7 on Showtime.

Make sure to check out EW's Fall TV Preview cover story — as well as all of our 2022 Fall TV Preview content, releasing over 22 days through Sept. 29.

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