With one surefire success under its belt, CBS All Access is expanding its lineup of original offerings in an effort to solidify its position as a viable competitor in an increasingly crowded streaming market. To that end, their latest offering – due on Halloween – is ‘Tell Me a Story‘. Developed by ‘Scream’ scribe Kevin Williamson, ‘Tell Me a Story’ is a serialized, horror-tinged drama that presents updated takes on classic fairy tales. While at New York Comic Con, we had the opportunity to sit down with series stars James Wolk and Paul Wesley. In the course of the conversation, we discussed their characters, the appeal of the series, and more.
What first attracted you to the show?
JW: I was honestly just excited about the idea that someone said “Oh, Kevin Williamson wrote this series. Read this script.” So the idea of working with Kevin, and then after reading the script, I just thought it was really authentic and really gritty. Not at all what you’d expect when you hear there’s something based on fairy tales. But it is very authentic and very gritty. I like that space, and Kevin just wrote the fire out of it.
PW: I secretly wanted to work on it. I read it just because I wanted to read what Kevin was writing. Obviously, I’ve worked with Kevin before, and I texted him saying, “Man, I love it, it’s so good.” Like, “Wink wink, call me!” [laughs] And then he did, like a month later. I don’t know, I think he had to see me, I think in a different light. Because I had played one character for him for eight years, and I think he had to like, “Oh yeah! Paul can do that part!”
JW: By the way, what bigger compliment can you have than working for someone and then them calling you and going, “Come back for this,” and having it be completely different from what you did in the other thing?
PW: Yes! It’s super cool!
JW: See how I build you up?
PW: No, I appreciate that, Jimmy. I appreciate it.
What can you guys tell us about your characters?
JW: Can we talk about each other’s characters?
PW: Please do!
JW: Yeah, let’s mix it up! So Paul Wesley plays a character named Eddie…
PW: Do you know Eddie’s last name?
PW: Yeah, Longo! Impressive!
JW: I read the scripts! Paul plays Eddie Longo, and Eddie’s a guy who’s kinda down on his luck when you first meet him. Definitely has some addiction issues, and has the opportunity to pull himself out of that. And what he thinks will be a very positive opportunity, a beneficial opportunity, ends up being kind of his own demise in our story.
PW: Very good.
JW: Do me.
PW: James plays Jordan, but I gotta be honest, I have no idea what your last name is, dude! [laughs]
JW: That’s okay, because they changed it from probably the first script that you read.
PW: What was it initially?
JW: I can’t say. But it’s Evans now. I don’t remember the first one, but it’s Jordan Evans, is my name.
PW: Wow, I never would’ve known that.
JW: Now you know.
PW: Alright, so James plays Jordan Evans. He’s a guy who starts off as… I would say hopeful, optimistic, and a little naive. I’m gonna just give you that. I think he’s a little naive and he doesn’t accept or understand the darkness of humanity until something happens to him and then he fully, not only experiences darkness but begins to have a taste of it. And get caught up in it. Until it destroys him. [laughs]
Now, your story is based on ‘The Three Little Pigs,’ correct?
So what are the similarities and differences, both between your characters and the third pig?
JW: Well I don’t play a pig in the story. So our two characters are kind of on the opposite side of the coin in the story. But what’s interesting is my character – who starts out as kind of the good guy – almost ends up paralleling a lot of Paul’s character’s characteristics by the end of the show. So I think it’s going to be interesting for audiences to see this guy that they think they’re rooting for, but by the end of the show, they may not be sure they’re rooting for anymore. He’s been kind of, to use a ‘Star Wars’ phrase, been brought over to the dark side.
Growing up, what was your favorite fairy tale?
PW: My grandma used to tell me fairy tales that she would make up. So one time… Like I only ate a certain kind of food when I was little, and she told me… I’m pretty sure she made up this whole story about this kid who, like, only ate this one kind of food and then he goes away on a summer camp, and something horrible happens to him because he won’t eat any other food. And I had this great fear of not eating other nutritional things, and so I started eating healthier. I think that’s what fairy tales do. They’re meant to assist children in not falling down certain paths. I think that’s why it was created, you know? Pre-television it was just stories that we’d tell kids because we didn’t want them to wander off into the woods or make bad choices in life. Try adding to that! [laughs]
JW: I can’t! I’m just gonna drink my coffee and say I liked ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. I think I liked the idea that there was this crazy world up there.
‘Tell Me a Story’ is set to debut on CBS All Access just in time for Halloween, on October 31, 2018.