When it comes to the undead, pop culture has largely shifted its focus from vampires to zombies. The Walking Dead remains a massive hit for AMC, and properties such as Warm Bodies and In the Flesh have taken the basic zombie concept and added a post-modern twist or two. Well, if anybody’s going to put vampires back in the spotlight, Guillermo del Toro is just the man for the job. FX’s The Strain, based on a trilogy of books co-written by del Toro and Chuck Hogan, looks to help us forget True Blood’s camp vamps and Twilight’s sparkling emo douchebags by making vampires scary again. And while FX isn’t showing off The Strain’s vampires just yet, they have let Yahoo TV premiere several new character photos.
The images show off four of the show’s cast. From top to bottom we’ve got Corey Stoll, Mia Maestro, Sean Astin, and David Bradley. Stoll, seen up top, has been seen recently in the Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop, and fans of Netflix’s House of Cards will recognize him as Rep. Peter Russo. Now with hair! In The Strain, Stoll plays Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, a CDC scientist tasked with investigating a viral outbreak that looks uncomfortably like vampirism.
Speaking of vampires, Mia Maestro turned up in the unfortunate Twilight saga as Carmen. She also played Sydney’s half-sister Nadia Santos in Alias back in the day. Maestro plays Dr. Nora Martinez, a “brilliant biochemist [who] cares more about people than the diseases that threaten them, but she will soon be forced to embrace a new identity as a ruthless warrior.”
If you don’t recognize this guy then you have failed — FAILED — at an all-important standardized geek test. It’s Sean Astin! Mikey from The Goonies! Samwise from The Lord of the Rings! Rudie from Rudie! Dave from Encino Man! Okay, so maybe that last one isn’t as exciting, but still. If you’re a hardcore TV sci-fi fan, you also might remember him from the second season of Showtime’s post-apocalyptic series Jeremiah, which starred Luke Perry and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, with Babylon 5’s J. Michael Straczynski as creator and executive producer. Astin plays Jim Kent, “a CDC administrator who works with Goodweather and Martinez in investigating and controlling the vampire outbreak.”
Last but not least, we’ve got David Bradley, a veteran of the Harry Potter films who appeared as a villain in the seventh-season Doctor Who episode “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” He also played First Doctor actor William Hartnell in the Who making-of TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time. In The Strain he’ll be in the role of Professor Abraham Setrakian, “a Holocaust survivor turned New York pawn-shop owner who may have answers about the outbreak.”
The Strain is set to premiere in July on FX. TV vet Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel) will serve as showrunner, with del Toro aboard as executive producer. Here’s the official synopsis for the series:
A plane lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport with lights off and doors sealed. Epidemiologist Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Stoll) and his team are sent to investigate. On board they find two hundred corpses and four survivors. The situation deteriorates when the bodies begin disappearing from morgues. Goodweather and a small group of helpers find themselves battling to protect not only their own loved ones, but the entire city, from an ancient threat to humanity.