CBS All Access has been working to expand their lineup of original programming ever since the smash success of ‘Star Trek: Discovery‘ last year. The latest effort is a horror-tinged offering from ‘Scream’ and ‘Vampire Diaries’ auteur Kevin Williamson. Due to arrive on Halloween, ‘Tell Me a Story’ offers presents a dark, modernized retelling of three classic fairy tales in the form of a serialized drama. While at New York Comic Con, we had the chance to speak with one of the show’s stars, Billy Magnussen, about the appeal of the series, his favorite fairy tales, and more.
What, to you, is the appeal of ‘Tell Me a Story’?
I think the appeal is Kevin Williamson creating a world based on classic fairy tales and taking a dark, realistic turn on it. He takes the crazy world of fairy tales and puts them in a dark, insane, kind of playground. These stories are based on old folklore and whatnot, and each generation has to re-tell these stories. I think that’s a cool thing to be part of, passing the torch of these moral-based stories.
Can you tell us a bit about your character?
I play Nick, and his story, I want to say, is very sexy, dark, and dangerous. You don’t know if he’s actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing or he’s the sheep actually. And it’s a dive into psychological obsession. Just a really profound look at it. He’s dangerous. I’m always the bad guy! Or maybe not!
You recently had a memorable turn in ‘Ingrid Goes West’. How would you compare these two characters?
With ‘Ingrid Goes West’… What was his name? Nicky? Oh, I’m playing Nick again. [laughs] Nicky was a WASPy, spoiled, socialite brat that took no responsibility for himself. Nick, in ‘Tell Me a Story’, is an intellectual, almost OCD kind of, everything has a structure, and when something’s outside the structure he has to put it back in the structure. So there’s an unhingedness to Nicky from ‘Ingrid Goes West’, where this is more him trying to put everything in its place. Does that make sense? That’s where I operate this character from.
How would you describe the tone of the show? Is it super dark?
Oh yeah! We’re talking like, you’re under the covers in a pitch black room. It’s dark! [laughs]
Growing up, what was your favorite fairy tale?
‘Cinderella’. I think it’s because, at the end of the day the moral of the story is “You are good enough as you are,” no matter your circumstances and “You’re worth it.” You don’t need the big gown and the pumpkin turning into a carriage. You’re what’s really of value.
Do you think we’ll see anything of ‘Cinderella’ in ‘Tell Me a Story’?
If the show extends past the first season, I would imagine Kevin would naturally dance into those other fairy tales. I can’t speak for him, but I would just imagine. He hit ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, and ‘Three Little Pigs’ in this. So I think the natural progression is to explore out.
‘Tell Me a Story’ is set to debut on CBS All Access just in time for Halloween, on October 31, 2018.