HEMLOCK GROVE: Bill Skarsgard Talks Upirs, Blood-Addiction and Roman’s Tortured Soul in Season 2 (2014)

"Hemlock Grove"
“Hemlock Grove”

Life as a vampire is not as exciting as portrayed in most films and television shows. In Season 2 of HEMLOCK GROVE, Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgaard) does everything in his power to fight his new-found upir nature. As Season 1 showed, Roman was perfectly content to be just an average human boy, albeit one who seemed to drawn to things decidedly inhuman. After all, he was quick to befriend the newest teen in town who he rightfully suspected was a werewolf. Incredibly, an interesting friendship developed between Peter Romancek (Landon Liboiron), the self-aware werewolf, and Roman, the unknowing upir, as a result of their respective curiosity about the other’s supernatural side. But as the events of Season 1 unfolded, their friendship was tested. In the end, Peter left Hemlock Grove unable to live with the grief over the death of Letha (Penelope Mitchell), Roman’s beloved cousin and Peter’s girlfriend.

In a press interview from the set, Bill Skarsgard talked about the isolation and abandonment issues that consume Roman, as well as he desire to be free from his cursed supernatural nature.

How would you describe the Season 2 relationship between Peter and Roman? Are they interacting at all? Are they friendly?
BILL: It’s very complicated because of how the first season left off. They don’t like each other at all. Roman feels that Peter betrayed him when he left him. He kind of blames Peter for what he almost is now. He needed him. He needed Peter and Peter just kind of left. So he feels, “how could you leave me in this place?” Peter left Hemlock Grove, but certain events happen so he needs to go back. So the two of them meet pretty early on in the season, but it’s still not resolved.

Does Roman feel a sense of isolation having lost Letha, Shelley (Madeleine Martin) and Peter in Season 1?
BILL: Completely. He’s completely isolated and super lonely. There’s no one in his life anymore. Last season, he had Shelley who was the most important person for him in his life. Losing her and Peter, who was the first real friend that he had — someone who also saw him for what was and they understood each other at that heightened level of what they are. So Peter’s gone and Letha’s gone and Roman despises his mother. Olivia (Famke Janssen) is reaching out to Roman, trying to say, “You need me to explain what you’re going through,” because he really doesn’t know. But he just despises her and doesn’t want anything to do with her. So he’s just this very lonely young man. He doesn’t have anyone. Peter coming back to the town, he’s the only one left in Roman’s life that he actually cares about, but he kind of despises him for everything he did. So Roman’s not happy.

What happened with Letha’s baby?
BILL: You’ll have to wait and see.

Roman and his mom Olivia are having some issues since she’s living somewhere else now. Is their relationship in a tense place right now or are they still figuring things out?
BILL: They’re not really talking. Roman really despises his mother and the part of himself that is like her. So he doesn’t want to be anything like her and she still wants him to pursue his becoming this creature. That’s kind of the major difference from last year, he’s struggling with this physical addiction to blood. He’s coming up with all these creative ideas on how to solve that.

What about Roman’s relationship with his uncle? Norman (Dougray Scott) is still around.
BILL: Norman’s around, but I don’t think Roman sees him. Further into the second season they have more to do with each other, but there’s a lot of parts in Norman that I think he really doesn’t like. Norman is really weak and Norman being in a relationship with his mother cheating on his wife, who was Letha’s mother. So there’s a whole thing. It’s all kind of bizarre. And Norman is obsessed with Olivia. So I don’t think Roman would consider Norman someone he can talk to, especially not what Roman is going through. Norman doesn’t know what Roman is and I think that is one of the most important parts, for Roman to be able to talk to someone that sees through him and knows who he is, and Norman doesn’t know that at all. Norman could never understand what Roman is actually going through with the whole thing of being an upir.

Does that mean that Roman is bonding more with Dr. Pryce (Joel de la Fuente) more?
BILL: (Laughs) I do have a lot scenes with him, but I wouldn’t say “bonding” really.

So what’s up with Roman in Season 2? Has he moved out of the Godfrey mansion?
BILL: I like where he’s going this season. He’s going from the old family house and he’s doing everything to be his own person, like growing up and buying his own house. It’s a complete opposite. Everything is super modern and it’s cool.

What else is different for Roman this season?
BILL: Basically he’s a junkie this year. He needs to drink blood and it’s an addiction for him. Opposed to last year where he was figuring out what he was or who he was, and at the end of it, he becomes this thing. So he’s an addict. It’s just him battling with an addiction. But he needs to drink blood. I don’t know the full mythology of it. But he can eat and drink. It’s not the vampire thing that he needs to feed on blood, but more the addiction. He cannot not do it. But he still doesn’t want to. So it’s him battling with this moral dilemma of how do you drink blood without hurting people.

Will the townsfolk notice a difference in Roman now that he’s running the Godfrey Institute?
BILL: I don’t think they take notice, but Roman is taking his job very seriously. He really wants to. In a way, he looked up to his dad for creating this whole thing. So he doesn’t want to pursue his mother’s legacy in terms of becoming this creature. So he’s still fighting that and he wants to become a serious businessman and entrepreneur in biotech. He’s really trying hard to as “good” as he can.

What do you enjoy most about playing Roman?
BILL: To justify all the supernatural elements to it, to use that to portray something too extreme for being human. I think that’s what is really cool about the blood addiction. That’s an opportunity. I need to justify it as something I can sort of relate to. I think it’s relatable to an actual addiction — that craving. So it’s fun to play a character that goes through all these really extreme things in his life, like needing to feed blood. I really like that part of him. I also have some really cool feeding scenes too. They weren’t really fun to shoot, but I think they will look cool.

To find out how successful Roman is in defeating his blood-addiction and whether he ever forgives his mother, be sure to tune in on Friday, July 11th when the entire second season of HEMLOCK GROVE will be available for binge-viewing on Netflix.

(Editor’s note: Special thanks goes to Netflix which made this interview possible with a sponsored trip to the set of “Hemlock Grove.”)

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