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'Penny Dreadful' Season 2 premieres Sunday on Showtime

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in "Penny Dreadful"

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in "Penny Dreadful" (season 2, episode 1). Credit: Showtime / Jonathan Hession

Particularly for viewers who love the macabre, another "Dreadful" time is on the immediate horizon: The Showtime series "Penny Dreadful" starts its second season Sunday at 10 p.m.

Putting new spins on classic characters such as Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) and Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney), the show continues to involve a number of James Bond-franchise veterans: writer-creator John Logan and fellow executive producer Sam Mendes, who teamed on "Skyfall"; and stars Timothy Dalton ("The Living Daylights," "Licence to Kill"), Eva Green ("Casino Royale") and Rory Kinnear and Helen McCrory ("Skyfall").

"I was planning this season 10 years ago," Logan says, "and thinking about these characters and this world. I became fascinated with a particular part of Vanessa Ives' past, which is where she learned to read the tarot . . . because it's not something that a girl, even one as unique as Vanessa Ives [Green], knows how to do. And thinking about that led me into the world of the occult and the supernatural, and this season, we embrace witchcraft."

Logan notes that he added McCrory's spiritualist role of Evelyn Poole to shake things up for the other 19th-century characters. That surely applies to Dalton's Sir Malcolm Murray, whose relationship with her "alienates him sort of romantically, personally and supernaturally from the rest of the people in the series," says Logan.

"One of the special things in doing 'Penny Dreadful,' " Dalton maintains, "is that you have a writer with you. So many times, you're doing work when there's no chance of talking to a writer, and the best questions you could ever ask are, 'What was in your mind when you wrote this? How did you see it? What was the point for you? What do you want to get out of this scene?' And you can get it from the author's mouth, and that's a great guide. Then, our job is to give that added value."

The situation also applies to such other "Penny Dreadful" stars as Josh Hartnett and Billie Piper. A particular challenge is faced by such actors as Treadaway, who have to reinvent long-familiar characters, and he says Season 2 is "very exciting" for his Frankenstein.

"He's onto the crush from his creature, who's kind of taught him in a way about the need for love," Treadaway says, "and this whole big thing that he's done, which is creating life. It's kind of going to be a bit worthless if that life doesn't have an opportunity to love within it."

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