If you’re still smarting from Penny Dreadful‘s untimely end, take heart: Showtime’s Gothic horror drama is being reanimated — in spirit. John Logan, the creator, writer, and executive producer of Penny Dreadful, is returning to old haunts with Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, a so-called “spiritual descendant” of the original drama. Here’s everything we know so far about City of Angels, from the stacked cast — which includes a familiar face from the Penny Dreadful universe — to the mysterious characters they’re playing.
The show premieres in April: Penny Dreadful: City of Angels will premiere Sunday, April 26 at 10/9c.
The first footage is here: In March, Showtime released the first full trailer for the new series, above. The network released the first teaser for City of Angels in January, followed by another in February that focused on a fiery prophecy.
Dreadful is flying south: The next chapter in the Penny Dreadful story trades the supernatural underworld of Victorian England for the supernatural underworld of 1938 Los Angeles. As the show’s official description notes, it’s a time and place deeply infused with social and political tension. When a grisly murder shocks the city, Detective Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) is embroiled in an epic story that reflects the rich history of Los Angeles, from the building of the city’s first freeways and its deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore to the dangerous espionage actions of the Third Reich and the rise of radio evangelism. Before long, Tiago and his family are grappling with powerful forces that threaten to tear them apart.
A Tony Award winner plays Vega’s partner: Penny Dreadful had Patti LuPone; City of Angels has Nathan Lane. The Broadway star plays Lewis Michener, a veteran officer in the LAPD who becomes Vega’s partner and mentor. Michener, who was written specifically for Lane, is described as wise to the ways of the world and ruthless in pursuit of his goals.
At the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Lane said the show is “Raymond Chandler meets Rod Serling.” The actor described his character as “a complicated guy who’s been on the LAPD for a very long time. He’s got a lot of issues and he’s taken this young detective under his wing because no one else would partner with him. I think he understood what being an outsider was like.”
We’re getting a Hot Supernatural Guys and Dolls vibe: On top of Lane, who was nominated for a Tony for his role in the 1992 Guys and Dolls revival, Kerry Bishé (Halt and Catch Fire) also joins the show in the Guys and Dolls-esque role of Sister Molly, a charismatic radio evangelist. A beautiful singer and gifted orator, Molly captivates her many faithful followers even as she grapples with the complex demands of her life. Amy Madigan (Gone Baby Gone) is set to recur as Sister Molly’s mother, Miss Adelaide Finnister, who shrewdly manages the church’s finances and oversees the growing religious empire.
A Game of Thrones actress stars as a demon: Natalie Dormer plays Magda, a supernatural demon who can take the appearance of anyone she chooses and manifests in a number of guises throughout the story. Charismatic, clever, and chameleonic, Magda is a dangerous enemy and an invaluable ally.
Dormer told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that viewers will meet two of her character’s iterations in the series premiere, but that there are more to come in the episodes that follow. “Every good protagonist needs an antagonist,” she said of Magda’s role in the series. “And I just have a lot of fun interweaving with all the cast, being several antagonists, which I am thrilled to be doing. Every character [has a] different wig, different voice, different physicality.”
Lorenza Izzo will recur as Magda’s sister, Santa Muerte, the Angel of Holy Death.
The story is timely: For creator John Logan, the series is a response to the current political climate. “The most important thing to remember for me about this show is, while it’s set in 1938, it’s about 2020,” Logan told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January. “Looking over the world landscape now, I am struck by parallels … particularly the rise of extremist political hatred, a sort of racist demagoguery that is taken for granted, by the pernicious influence … of foreign power in our electoral process, … and particularly by the marginalization and victimization of an ethnic community. And as the son of immigrants myself, this is a story I wanted to tell.”
An original Penny Dreadful star returns in a new role: Rory Kinnear, who played the Creature in the original series, will also be a regular in City of Angels. This time, he’s Dr. Peter Craft, a successful German pediatrician and the head of the German-American Bund, an organization he hopes will keep the United States isolated from the growing threat of war in Europe. John Logan, who wrote the part for Kinnear, said, “It’s no secret that Rory is one of my favorite actors on the planet, and working with him in the original series was inspiring.” Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs) plays Craft’s wife, Linda. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Linda Craft is described as “a fading American Beauty rose” who’s unhappy with her husband and tired of suburban life.
We’ll get to know the Vega family: Johnathan Nieves plays Mateo Vega, Tiago’s essentially goodhearted but volatile younger brother. Jessica Garza (The Purge) has been cast as Josefina, the youngest of the Vega family, who plays the part of the quiet and overlooked sister but possesses a powerful spirit waiting to be unleashed. Adriana Barraza (Babel) is Maria, the Vega family’s powerful matriarch, who will go to any lengths to protect her children from the dangerous world of 1938 social politics, as well as from the chilling supernatural forces invading their lives. And Adam Rodriguez (Criminal Minds) will recur as Raul Vega, the eldest son of the Vega family and a righteous union leader and advocate for his people.
And the leaders in the Los Angeles community: Michael Gladis (Mad Men) is on board as Councilman Charlton Townsend, the ambitious head of the L.A. City Council’s Transportation Committee. Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation) will play Capt. Ned Vanderhoff, precinct captain at the Hollenbeck police station in Boyle Heights — Tiago Vega and Lewis Michener’s boss. A veteran officer under a lot pressure, Vanderhoff struggles to keep a lid on the volatile and changing city. And Michener will have a friend and ally in Dottie Minter, played by Lin Shaye (Insidious). Cunning and wry, Dottie is an invaluable operative in the battle against Third Reich espionage in Los Angeles.
And the German characters: Rory Kinnear’s Dr. Craft is set to go toe to toe with Ethan Peck‘s (Star Trek: Discovery) Herman Ackermann, the charismatic second-in-command at the German-American Bund. His aggressive politics, heated rhetoric, and personal magnetism create tension within the group. The series has also added Thomas Kretschmann (Avengers: Age of Ultron) as Richard Goss, an aristocratic and mysterious German architect with grand plans for the future of Los Angeles who’s got unsettling connections to City Hall. Finally, Shadowhunters‘ Dominic Sherwood is staying in the supernatural genre as Goss’ chauffeur and bodyguard, Kurt, who possesses an unexpected depth and surprising background.
The creative team will look familiar: The mind behind the original series, John Logan, also serves as creator, writer, and executive producer on City of Angels. Michael Aguilar returns to the franchise as executive producer, as do Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris. James Bagley also returns as co-executive producer, and Paco Cabezas, who directed four episodes of Penny Dreadful, has been tapped to direct multiple episodes of the new drama.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels premieres Sunday, April 26 at 10/9c on Showtime.