The cast of NBC’s “Midnight, Texas” hit WonderCon on Saturday (April 1) — teasing what’s sure to be the network’s next big genre hit. The series is the latest TV adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ literary work, drawing comparisons to “True Blood” (her other popular book series, previously adapted for TV by HBO).
Francois Arnaud (“The Borgias,” “Blindspot”) stars as Manfred Bernardo — a tortured psychic who moves to the town of Midnight for refuge. Filled with an assortment of characters with supernatural abilities, Manfred quickly fits right in. You see, he literally sees dead people.
The apparitions in the series are delightfully visceral, frightening and grotesque, with the show’s makeup effects conjuring up memories of the early work of Tim Burton — Large Marge from “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” comes to mind, and “Beetlejuice.
According to Arnaud, one of the influences that helped him bring Manfred to life was Michael Keaton’s iconic boogeyman: “[Beetlejuice] was a big inspiration for me … I think that’s part of the fun of the job for me on ‘Midnight.’ Not only do I get to play Manfred — but over the episodes, I get to play a few different ghosts!”
Costar Sarah Ramos — who played Haddie Braverman on “Parenthood — confirms these ghastly details.
“Later on, in the season, you’ll see Francois don some contact lenses and special makeup,” she says. “He would send me photos of that and I’d be like, ‘Eww, please don’t send me a picture!'”
The balance between practical and CG effects puts “Midnight, Texas” on a whole new playing field. And when it comes to Manfred’s interaction with the dead, the mix comes in real handy. “The special effects team is amazing on the show,” Arnaud adds. “And it’s very helpful, as an actor, to have something to interact with.”
According to Francois, half the fun of working on “Midnight, Texas” was being able to create the imaginary chaos around him — to show just what Manfred experiences when a ghost jumps down his throat.
“Shooting the pilot, it was sort of interesting to be the one to dictate how that was going to happen because, obviously, they had to create effects that sort of matched my over-the-top performance,” Arnaud continues. “Visceral, as you put it… It’s something that we all agreed on: We wanted to make it very physical, very painful, upsetting, scary.”
“Midnight, Texas” premieres Tuesday, July 25 on NBC.