“Salem” Party at SXSW Film 2015 with Lucy Lawless, Shane West, Janet Montgomery
On Friday the 13th, WGN America’s breakout hit series “Salem” kicked off SXSW Film 2015, with a ‘witches playground’ party that served as the official opening event of SXSW Film, celebrating the annual festival and highly anticipated second season return of the supernatural thriller, premiering SUNDAY, April 5 at 10:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 p.m. CT. “Salem” stars Janet Montgomery (“Made in Jersey,” “Human Target”), Shane West (“Nikita,” “ER”) and Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Spartacus”) joined creators and executive producers Brannon Braga (“Cosmos,” “24”) and Adam Simon (“The Haunting in Connecticut”) at the historically haunted Speakeasy on the Avenue lounge, where bewitching aerialists, levitating candles, eerie skulls and bones and screens playing provocative footage from the series enchanted the jam-packed crowd of more than 1,300 attendees.
Actors, tastemakers, influencers and filmmakers were treated to potent “witches’ brew,” fortune tellers with ominous “Salem” cards (“you might be sleeping with a witch,” “someone close is vying for your throne”), and an interactive photo area that allowed guests to post “Salem”-branded images and gifs on social media. Throughout the evening, partygoers filled the rooftop terrace to enjoy panoramic views of the festival in downtown Austin and sounds from the DJ booth, as well as another photo zone where attendees could take their pictures in the gallows and recreate iconic scenes from the show.
The following day, WGN America presented a “Salem” panel and Q&A session at the InterContinental Hotel on Saturday, March 14. The panel featured Montgomery, West, Lawless, Braga and Simon, who screened a sneak peek of the season two premiere and engaged in a lively discussion with reporters and fans about what lies ahead for viewers in the all-new 13-episode season.
Excerpts from the panel can be found below:
Montgomery on her character:
“Mary has all of her emotions bubbling on the surface. I have quite a few explosions. Mary gets to suddenly explode or break something. On Friday, I got to throw something across the room numerous times and every time I smashed it, it was quite fun.”
West on his character’s evolution:
“John, he’s a lot more focused this year. He is pretty much hell bound on revenge, he’s been spurned by love too many times.”
Lawless on why she was drawn to “Salem”:
“I watched the whole series and I really loved the actors and I thought I could learn from them, so I knew they would write me a kick ass role. She’s not literally kicking ass…yet.”
Braga on what’s new for “Salem” season two:
“Lucy Lawless is one of our big villains this year. She plays a witch,” to which Lawless adds playfully, “with a heart of gold!”
Simon on the character development in season two:
“We fell in love with these characters and the actors playing them last year so it was really a lot of fun this year to just continue to tell the story of Salem and Mary Sibley and her doomed affair with John Alden.”
Braga on the themes in “Salem”:
“A lot of the strangest imagery is from the actual Salem witch trial transcripts. Some of the weirdest stuff on the show, like the frog that Mary puts down her husband’s throat…were taken from historical documents.”
This year marks WGN America’s first-ever presence at SXSW, as the network aggressively expands to become a destination for high-quality original programming, and rolls out its multi-platform promotional campaign for season two of its flagship series “Salem.”
From creators and writers Brannon Braga and Adam Simon, “Salem” is a gripping one-hour drama that boldly re-imagines the infamous 17th century witch trials in colonial Massachusetts. The series stars Janet Montgomery (“Made in Jersey,” “Human Target”), Shane West (“Nikita,” “ER”), Seth Gabel (“Arrow,” “Fringe”), Ashley Madekwe (“Revenge”), Tamzin Merchant (“Jane Eyre”), Elise Eberle (“The Astronaut Farmer”) and Iddo Goldberg (“Mob City”). New to the cast of “Salem” for season two are Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess”, “Spartacus”), Stuart Townsend (“Betrayal,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”), Joe Doyle (“Raw”) and Oliver Bell (“The Saint”).
“Salem” is executive produced by Brannon Braga, Adam Simon, Josh Barry, Jeff Kwatinez, Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson. Nick Copus directs and serves as co-executive producer. The series is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios.