Women take control of their story in ‘The Mayfair Witches’ | Television

In the same universe in which the lewd and deadly adventures of the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt and his victim and lover Louis de Pointe du Lac take place, the women of the Mayfair family learn to control powers that are passed down from generation to generation and to live with a spirit with dubious intentions. The literary worlds of interview with the vampire and The Mayfair Witches they are intertwined by their author, Anne Rice, by the New Orleans in which their plots take place, and by some common stories and characters. Both are part of the project of the American channel AMC to transfer Rice’s creative universe to the screen. After the vampires, now comes the series based on the trilogy of The Mayfair Witcheswhose first chapter is now available on AMC+.

Its story follows Rowan Mayfair, a young neurosurgeon who delves into her past to try to understand the origin of powers that, unchecked, have proven to have fatal consequences. The scriptwriter and producer Esta Spalding is the head of a fiction that in its first season has eight episodes, quite a condensation challenge for a story that exceeds 1,000 pages in its first volume. “It’s a very dense tome, with a lot of information about family history. There is a section of about 300 pages on the other 12 generations of Mayfair witches. The most difficult thing about the adaptation was finding a way for our protagonist there and how to compress all that story, ”Spalding said in a video call interview in early February.

To do this, Esta Spalding and screenwriter Michelle Ashford (Masters of Sex) focused on Rowan’s character and made her the engine of the story. But, in addition, they wanted to tell the story of at least one more generation of Mayfair witches, for which they traveled to the first of them, Suzanne, and thus narrate at the same time how a spirit called Lasher relates generation after generation to these women until today. For Spalding, telling a witch story is, in a way, telling the story of women in general “and how, throughout history, women who tried to embrace their power were persecuted.”

An image from the first chapter of ‘The Mayfair Witches’.Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

The combination of fragility and strength conveyed by Alexandra Daddario (true detective, The White Lotus) soon made her the one chosen to star in this story on the screen. “We needed someone who could be believable, at the same time, as a brilliant neurosurgeon and as a completely vulnerable and emotional woman grieving over the death of her mother and reeling from the idea that she could be killing people. Also, it helps that he has that extraordinary, rather witchy look, ”she explains the showrunner. The role of the mysterious Lasher was more complicated and it cost more to find Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) for him. “We wondered who could be both scary and seductive at the same time. He had to have a rock star presence, drive and charisma, like a Mick Jagger or David Bowie. When I met Jack through the Zoom screen, I felt those things, that magic and that charisma. When a writer imagines an actor in a character and suddenly it’s easier for him to write that character, you’ve got it right. And suddenly it was easier to write Lasher when we knew Jack would do it,” Spalding recalls.

Jack Huston as Lasher in the first episode of ‘The Mayfair Witches’.Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

One aspect of the series that the person in charge highlights is his treatment of sex. “We take a very careful and in-depth look at issues related to consent. Not all sex scenes are consensual sex, but we wanted you to understand why. That’s why we talked a lot about it in the writers’ room, what consent is and how we were going to define and describe those scenes in a way that women were the ones with as much control as possible in the story,” says the writer. “When Anne Rice wrote those sex scenes, she was writing things that people had never written before in the ’90s. We wanted to honor those moments.”

As interview with the vampire The Mayfair Witches it is set in New Orleans and its culture has a great presence in the series. For this reason, those responsible did not consider any other place than the city of Louisiana for the filming of this fiction. “To be able to bring out the magic of this place, its history, its architecture, its music, its artists… It’s almost a symbiotic thing, because I feel like Anne Rice has helped define what the city is and now the city is giving back to Anne’s world. Rice gave him everything,” argues Spalding. Even local artists and groups such as The Skull and Bones Gang, regulars at the popular Mardi Gras, participate in the series, specifically in the third chapter.

Alexandra Daddario, as the neosurgeon protagonist of ‘The Mayfair Witches’.Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

Although both series belong to the same literary and television universe, each of them has its own visual identity on the screen and its own narrative concept. That differentiated personality is marked in this production through different elements, as Spalding explains: from the color palette to the lenses with which it has been recorded, through the vignetting of some of the images or even the ratio used to record, slightly different from usual so that it could encompass the high ceilings of their buildings. Also the decoration of the houses and even the wallpaper on the walls is inspired by the mansions of the Garden District, which gives it a very defined aesthetic.

But above all, this is a witch story. For this reason, the series had a witchcraft consultant who guided the team in this practice. “The actors did their own research on the subject, but we also brought an expert in Western witchcraft lore into the shoot, which would be the lore that Suzanne and the other Mayfair witches would follow. He told us things like how the spells would be or what kind of herbs or oils would be used at each moment ”, Spalding completes.

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