It’s pretty hard for Katie McGrath’s Sarah Bennett to be Slasher‘s serial killer. After all, The Executioner was chasing her during last Friday’s debut episode, “An Eye for an Eye.” Still, Sarah may very well end up the killer’s final victim (or the murderer) by the time Season 1 closes out. Sarah and her husband, newspaper reporter Dylan (Brandon Jay McLaren), have moved to the town of Waterbury to live in the house Sarah’s parents were murdered in decades before. Within hours of their arrival, dead bodies pile up.
In our first instalment of interviews with the cast of Slasher, McGrath talks Canada, her character’s relationship and getting Merlin’s Morgana out of her system.
Welcome to Canada.
Katie McGrath: Thank you. The weather here isn’t that different from Ireland, but it is hot. And there are the bugs. Apparently, I’m delicious because they are eating me alive!
How did you get this role?
My agent called me up and said she’d been approached by Shaftesbury about this project. She was a huge fan of Being Erica and said, ‘I want you to sit down and read it because I loved Being Erica and I really respect this creator.’ I sat down with my cup of tea and went through it. I had the whole thing done in 30 minutes and I got on the phone with everyone on my team and we all loved it. That’s never happened. It’s just really good writing and that’s rare, especially when you’re a woman. Female characters can be very much a caricature in a horror project. I see a lot of them and they are very genre-specific and typecast and Sarah wasn’t, and I liked that. I spoke to [creator] Aaron [Martin] and [director] Craig [David Wallace] about we all thought.
I was petrified by it because we were going to shoot all eight episodes at once. That scared me. But I figure that if something scares the hell out of you, you should do it because it means it’s important. I said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s go to Canada.’
What’s happening to Sarah and the town isn’t great, but it is for Sarah’s husband, Dylan. It means furthering his career with the newspaper story of his life.
He’s probably quite conflicted between the story and wanting the murders to happen, but as time goes on he sees that his wife, who he does love, is central to this.
With the worldwide success of Merlin, did you find yourself seeking out roles that were totally different?
I played Morgana for so long and people were so familiar with it, what was so hard was going into meetings after it and not playing roles as Morgana. That was my go-to because I had played her for five years and over 60 episodes. It took a good six months for me to shake it.
Are you at the point in your career where you’re starting to look towards writing your own characters, producing and directing?
Oh god, I can barely string a sentence together! My brother is so talented when it comes to words and I love them because my whole life is words, but when it comes to doing it everything becomes verbose. Completely overwritten and I just have to step back. I’d very happily employ somebody else to write. I love the idea of being in control but then I think that my ideas aren’t that good! [Laughs.] I don’t know if it would be a good idea if I thought that I was right all of the time! I guess at some point I should think about it, because I can’t rely on my eyebrows and distracting jawline forever. [Laughs.]
What do you want viewers to get out of Slasher when they tune in every week?
Fear. I want them to get chills. Especially by horror, we want people to be affected by it. The genre gets such a bad rap because a lot of it is made on such a low budget that it can be formulaic. Horror is hard because you have to keep people in a heightened state of fear for a long time. And it’s extremely hard to film because you’re in that heightened state of emotion for a long time.
But if you ask people about a horror movie that really affected them, it stays with them. I’m still petrified of The Descent and it’s been 10 years since I’ve seen it. If you get horror right, it stays with you.
Slasher airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Super Channel.