NOS4A2: 11 things you didn’t know about the supernatural TV horror on AMC

We reveal 11 things you didn’t know about NOS4A2, from the surprise Disney inspiration behind Christmasland to which actor studied for a degree in between filming...

By Sophia Moir Published: 7 July 2020 - 5.24pm
AMC

NOS4A2 returns to AMC for season 2, set eight years after the dramatic season 1 finale

Zachary Quinto is back as vampire villain Charlie Manx, alongside Ashleigh Cummings as Vic McQueen, who we meet struggling to conquer her demons and live a normal family life.

From surprising facts and fun trivia to hidden Easter eggs, here are 11 things you might not have known about NOS4A2 as it returns to our TV screens...

1. A Disney classic is the surprise inspiration behind Christmasland

NOS4A2’s Christmasland is an imaginary world where it's always Christmas Day - a wintery hell where kids, who can never grow old, turn into razor-toothed gremlins. One violent game played in Christmasland is Scissors for the Drifter, where the vampire children crowd around the weakest kid and stab him or her to death. So, a Disney film is probably the last thing you’d think of as the inspiration behind this hellish place, right? 

NOS4A2 Christmasland AMC

Speaking to BT.com, NOS4A2 author Joe Hill explains: “Part of the inspiration for Christmasland was Pleasure Island in Pinocchio, where all the bad boys go, where they drink and gamble and smoke cigars and are gradually, magically transformed into donkeys, into jackasses.

"It haunted me as a child, clearly as I’ve never been able to escape the gentle grip of that sequence, because in a lot of ways Christmasland is my version of Pleasure Island, except in my version instead of turning into jackasses, the children turn into vampires.”

2. Zachary Quinto spent up to four and a half hours in make up every day...

Zachary Quinto completely transforms into vampire villain Charles 'Charlie' Manx for the sinister role. There's five different phases to Manx’s character, so it depended on what phase Quinto was playing that day as to how long it would take to transform him.

He told BT.com: "The first [phase] is closest to me in age, which is late 30s/early 40s, the second phase is 65, then 85, then 105, then 135. So phase one takes less than an hour, phase five takes up to four and a half hours." 

3. …And he got a lot done in that time!

While he was in the make-up chair, Quinto made use of the time sat down in one place. "I’ll do emails, admin, I read books, listen to podcasts, I meditate, I sleep. I do all sorts of things in four hours... If I’m going to be in one place at one time, I might as well make the most of it!" he told BT.com.

4. Vic McQueen has been compared to two legendary sci-fi action heroes

NOS4A2 showrunner Jami O'Brien says Vic McQueen is a 'tough role to play', and her and Ashleigh Cummings spoke a lot about the character. O'Brien compares Vic to a flawed and complex sci-fi action hero. She tells BT.com: "There are aspects of Vic you might compare to [Alien's] Ellen Ripley or [Terminator's] Sarah Connor. She’s tough, she rides a motorcycle. 

“But Ashleigh was always interested in finding the less masculine strengths of Vic. Even though she has a leather jacket and is bombing around on a motorcycle, she is playing against that idea a lot of the time. I think that makes her performance really compelling."

NOS4A2 Vic McQueen AMC

5. NOS4A2 is Jahkara Smith’s first acting role

Smith plays Maggie Leigh in the NOS4A2 cast - a bubbly librarian who uses a Scrabble bag as a portal to the universe. But did you know that it's her first acting role? She is best known for her YouTube channel, Sailor J, where she originally created parody make-up tutorial videos.

6. The show’s been described as ‘Downton Abbey with vampires’

A period drama might not be the first genre that comes to mind when you read up on NOS4A2, but there are elements of season 2 that are more Downton Abbey than Dracula. The second episode tells the backstory of Charlie Manx, and how his upbringing contributes to him being the villain he is today. 

Showrunner Jami O’Brien told BT.com: "I think episode two is the closest thing we have to a monster movie... Someone described that episode to me as Downton Abbey with vampires. I thought that was kind of cool."

NOS4A2 Manx AMC

7. Zachary Quinto had to learn how to drive a manual British car for the role

The 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith is a big part of Charlie Manx's character, as the ancient car is the only one that villain Manx drives. American actor Quinto had never driven a manual British car before, as they generally have automatic transmission cars in the States, with gears on the opposite side. 

Of learning how to drive the Wraith, he told us: “There’s a lot of calculations that I needed to do to make it believable that I’ve had a relationship with this car for 75 years. So I spent some weeks driving around with a great team of mechanics on the show teaching me how to use the car. It was really cool. I was never really a car person, but doing this show made me understand why people are.”

NOS4A2 Wraith AMC

8. Ashleigh Cummings studied for a degree in between filming

When filming for NOS4A2 season 1 was finished, Ashleigh Cummings (Vic McQueen) went to university in Morocco to study for a degree in Middle Eastern studies and peace and conflict resolution. 

In an interview with FilmInk.com, the actress, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, said that while living in the north African country for half the year to study, she also learnt French and Arabic.

In our interview, co-star Zachary Quinto called her an "incredibly intelligent young woman."

"She’s this very interesting, colourful young lady and I feel really honoured to have shared this experience with her," he added.

9. Joe Hill suggested a new villain for season 2

As first reported by Entertainment Weekly, NOS4A2 season 2 introduces a new villain for season 2 who’s on Team Charlie Manx. Little is known about the new character at the moment, but Joe Hill told us that “he's called The Hourglass who becomes a confederate of Charlie and contributes to the menace that Vic McQueen finds herself facing".

10. There are Easter eggs for Stephen King fans

The NOS4A2 television series is based on the book of the same name by author Joe Hill - who just happens to be the son of legendary writer Stephen King. Zachary Quinto said that there are clear parallels between the world of NOS4A2 and the Stephen King multiverse that he’s carved out in his own novels. 

Hill told us: “The Rolls-Royce Wraith is evocative of [the Stephen King novel] Christine, and the kids, right? The fact that Charlie Manx preys on these kids, and the imagination and vulnerabilities of these children is sort of like It. There’s a lot of overlap I think in that world.”

11. Charlie Manx’s voice isn’t special effects

A big physical part of Manx's character is his voice, with the old man's vocals sounding croaky, almost pained. That voice is entirely Zachary Quinto's and not special effects as you may have suspected. Quinto controlled his voice for the character, telling BT.com: “That’s just me, no gadgets! 

“The physicality of the character was something I spent time figuring out, and developing, and working on my own to do that. From that physicality came the vocal choices that I made, to hopefully capture his weakness, and his insatiable hunger, and his age, as he weakens as he gets older.”

NOS4A2 season 2 starts Tuesday, July 7 at 9pm, exclusively on AMC (BT TV channel 332/381 HD).