Fans of the Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events books have been enjoying a bit of a double-edged sword as of late. On one side is the fact that the books are being adapted into a lavish Netflix TV series, filled with great actors and fantastic production value. On the other side, though, is the fact that the series seems to have lightened up the tone of the books a bit. Something I’ve discussed with Jammer and Kellvin on the LOS FANBOYS Podcast is the way that the trailers have made the series look more like a broad comedy aimed at kids than the bitingly dark humor that the books were known for.
As it turns out, A Series of Unfortunate Events star Neil Patrick Harris thinks I’ve got it all wrong.
In an interview with Collider, Harris spoke candidly about the tone of the series, and revealed an interesting 180 that happened when the folks at Netflix realized where the producers were taking A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Here are the actor’s remarks about the tone of the series:
“I think itâ€™s super faithful to the books. I think at times itâ€™s shockingly dark. From what I gathered, Netflix was concerned that adults werenâ€™t going to be able to value it because it was skewing towards a younger demographic. And I think now that itâ€™s done, they want to make sure the kids still value it and itâ€™s not gone too Stranger Things.
That’s reassuring, as I always felt the books were written with a very dry, very British, very dark sense of humor. There was this great juxtaposition where you knew you were reading what was, at its core, a children’s adventure story…yet it didn’t read that way at all.
Harris also took some time to discuss his approach towards Count Olaf, the main antagonist of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The characterwas first brought to life in live-action form when Jim Carrey played him in the film adaptation. Here’s how Harris chose to tackle Olaf:
“I really wanted Olaf to be bad. To be a bad person.
I tried to just focus as much as I could on being as literal as possible and try to honor how Olaf was described by Lemony [Snicket] and by Daniel Handler. So, a lot of piercing darkness and sort of delusional dementia. He thinks heâ€™s so handsome and he thinks heâ€™s incredibly charming and gifted as an actor, and yet heâ€™s not. So I didnâ€™t want to be overly charming, I wanted to be just awful. Distinctly mean. And then let the levity of the situation inform the takeaway for the viewer. I didnâ€™t want to make him like myself.”
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will debut on Netflix on January 13, 2017. Aside from Harris, the series will also star Alfre Woodard, Joan Cusack, Patrick Warburton, and Catherine O’Hara.