June 29, 2017
'Penny Dreadful' Star Billie Piper On Building An Army Of Monsters

Penny Dreadful is just beginning its third season and, as the latest story arcs unfold, actress Billie Piper reveals that her character, Lily Frankenstein, is really coming into her own as a villain and a threat to the heroes of John Logan's series. Recently, Piper talked about the horrors of Penny Dreadful and what can be expected from her character. The Penny Dreadful actress also revealed that her own children had a surprising reaction to the horrors of the series during a recent visit to the set.

Penny Dreadful Star Billie Piper On Being A Famous Monster

Ms. Piper is the mother of two young boys, so, naturally, she assumed they would enjoy visiting the set of Penny Dreadful and seeing the horrors and monsters up close, but Billie says the boys couldn't have been less impressed. She adds that they were only mildly more interested in the Doctor Who set.

"There was semi-interest in the Doctor Who sets when I was doing the 50th [anniversary special], because it's an all-round more colourful experience and less intense," says the Penny Dreadful actress. "They could actually watch the filming if they wanted to."

For the rest of us, Penny Dreadful speaks to the darkest parts of our souls, mixing the macabre with the romantic, while maintaining a hauntingly gothic atmosphere that seems reminiscent of the novels of Emily Bronte or Mary Shelley, upon whose works some of the characters are based. Yet, Piper, like her co-star Timothy Dalton, cautions fans that Penny Dreadful is not horror in the strictest sense. Sure, there are vampires, demons, witches, and ghosts, but those supernatural entities only push the story forward, which, at its very core, is a tale about humanity, love, and faith.

"It's a really thoughtful piece of writing, and if it's about anything, it's about mortality and lost souls; just a crooked bunch of characters in Victorian London," Billie says of Penny Dreadful. "And I love it most when it's that. The scary stuff I'm not really bothered by."

Billie moves on to talk about her own character, the devious Lily Frankenstein, and her partnership with Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney). The pair is on a mission together and at times, it seems Gray is only along for the ride, seeking to indulge his new love interest and to make her happy. Meanwhile, Lily has definite plans for herself and for those she feels have betrayed her.

"They've found soulmates in each other and they're sort of 'friends with benefits'," explains Billie of Lily's relationship with Gray. "They're out recruiting fallen women to build an army, to justify some of the savagery that's happened."

"There's a big feminist link running through it," adds the Penny Dreadful actress.

Penny Dreadful Showrunner John Logan Dishes On The Tragedy Of Victor Frankenstein

John Logan realizes that Victor Frankenstein may be the most tragic character of any on Penny Dreadful, particularly with his obsession with bringing the dead back to life. The Penny Dreadful showrunner points out that there's always something off with Frankenstein in the way that he interacts with others and oftentimes seems out of place in social situations. He seems most comfortable in his skin when he's alone in his laboratory or spending time with his reanimated creations.
"I think he's the most obsessive of the characters, he's the most single-minded. There's always something about Victor Frankenstein that dramatically doesn't fit into the world. That's what Harry Treadaway captures about him so well — how uncomfortable he is in the world."
Logan says this season of Penny Dreadful will see a different side of Victor, which seems especially fitting, considering he's just brought an old friend, Dr. Jekyll, to town to help him win Lily's affections.

"This season he's allied with another character, Dr. Jekyll, who has the same experience but for social reasons, because [he's of South Asian descent]. This season for Frankenstein, it's not about re-animation, it's actually very much a love story with Lily. It's something very different this season, actually."

The Penny Dreadful showrunner echoes some of Billie Piper's thoughts on Season 3 of the show, as he speaks about Lily's journey, which may or may not have a place for her creator, Victor.

"Being able to write Lily's arc last season and this season was a real pleasure, and what we're doing this season is actually a very domestic, social journey. It's about female empowerment, and there are some real surprises in store for the character and the audience," says the Penny Dreadful creator. "Along with Vanessa, Lily's story is my favorite this season."

The next episode of Penny Dreadful will air on May 15 on Showtime.

[Image by Showtime]