SHREVEPORT, Louisiana (WITI) -- "Salem," WGN America's very first original scripted series is back for its second season! The series, starring Janet Montgomery and Shane West is inspired by the real Salem witch trials in the 17th century.
Salem is a fictional story loosely based on the infamous Salem witch trials in the 17th century in colonial Massachusetts, when the government was dominated by Puritan leaders. It questions whether the Puritans were right in their actions -- whether the people punished were innocent.
Emmy nominated director Brannon Braga, known for TV series such as “24” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is the co-creator, executive producer and writer. Adam Simon, know for "The Haunting in Connecticut," "Bones," "Carnosaur" is co-creator and executive producer. Nick Copus is director and co-executive producer.
In Season 1, John Alden (Shane West) and Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) found themselves in the middle of an epic romance, even as Puritan witch hunts were engulfing the town of Salem in hysteria, horror and despair.
Historically, Salem Village and Salem Town feuded over property, grazing rights and church rights. The government was dominated by Puritan leaders. People were scrutinized closely and this resulted in obvious discord. They were afraid of being persecuted for anything that may offend the Puritan mindset. The word "witch" seemed an easy and appropriate curse hurled at someone who behaved abnormally.
Season 1 of Salem was all about the conniving and tortured Mary Sibley, whose mission was to complete the Grand Rite and unleash a horrifying plague against the Puritans. But come the Season 2 premiere, Mary is going to have to learn how to share the spotlight -- and possibly her power and control -- with some of Salem's newest residents. Mary declares a witch war, and must continue to attempt to control Alden while also fending off other pests who seek her power.
Not only is there a formidable enchantress coming into town to see which witch everyone is talking about, but there's a visiting doctor who might just stir up a little bit of drama and love for Mary. Add on the fact that Mary recently found out the son she thought was dead is alive, and this season is shaping up to be a devilish one.
New characters this season include:
- Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg (played by Lucy Lawless)
-Lawless plays one of the only remaining descendants of an ancient line of European witches who craves nothing but power.
- Baron Sebastian Marburg (played by Joe Doyle)
-Doyle plays Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg's charming and loyal son Sebastian.
- Dr. Samuel Wainwright (played by Stuart Townsend)
-Townsend plays a mysterious new doctor in town who has come to rid Salem of its plague and sweep Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) off her feet.
- Boy (played by Oliver Bell)
-Bell plays Mary Sibley's nameless long-lost son, who was raised by her coven without her knowledge.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Salem's Cast & Crew!
FOX6's Brian Kramp visited Shreveport, Louisiana where Salem is filmed. He was able to sit down with the actors and others who work to bring this show to life.
Salem Season 2 is entitled "Witch War," and this season, no one is safe!
"Last year it was 'Witch Among Us' and this year it is 'Witch War.' Things are heating up as Mary Sibley rises to power. There are many, many threats to her from within and without. (There are) new witches. You know, we`ve lived with the Essex hive in Season 1 -- Mary and her peeps, but as she completes the Grand Rite, other witches have sensed that it`s happened, but we don`t know who did it and one witch in particular -- played by Lucy Lawless named Countess Marburg is in Boston and she senses this and she comes to Salem to find out what this is all about," co-creator, executive producer and writer Brannon Braga said.
"I`m the last of the true witches. Every man, woman and child will be dead," Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg (Lucy Lawless) says in the Salem trailer.
"I`m playing the soul of violence really -- which is inextricably intertwined with attraction -- very attracted to Mary Sibley who has something that she wants, so look out! The Witch War starts right here," Lucy Lawless said.
Lawless is best known for her role as Xena: Warrior Princess. In Salem Season 2, Lawless portrays an ancient and powerful witch on a mission.
"She`s an icon for sure and a brilliant actor and gorgeous -- but she brings this kind of power and strength. I don`t want to give anything away, but the very first scene she`s in I don`t think anybody will forget that," co-creator and executive producer Adam Simon said.
"We`re so fortunate to have Lucy Lawless on the show," Shane West, who plays John Alden said.
"Part of the key for the countess is discovering Mary Sibley -- the most curious creature of all," Lucy Lawless said.
"If and when she comes to Salem, I don`t think Mary is going to be happy about it," Janet Montgomery, who plays Mary Sibley said.
"She`s going to bring a whole new level of evil into this witch war in Salem" Shane West said.
"It`s so good what she does. You laugh -- not because she`s being funny, just because you`re like 'oh my God. I can`t believe this. This is amazing.' You`re like 'I can`t wait to see this. I can`t wait to this,'" Ashley Madekwe, who plays Tituba said.
"All our new characters are very mysterious. Dr. Wainwright played by Stuart Townsend certainly falls into that bag," Iddo Goldberg, who plays Isaac Walton said.
"Often the most fearsome landscapes are hiding the most succulent garden," Cotton Mather, played by Seth Gabel says in the Salem trailer.
"We have an incredible cast on this show and to add to that cast you need to bring in actors that are as good or better than the ones you already have and both Lucy and Stuart have a great pedigree and the characters that were written up by our writers when you started going through who are the right people to play those roles Stuart and Lucy were right at the top of the list and thankfully they love the show as well so they`re here," Salem director and co-executive producer Nike Copus said.
So what is it like to play characters that are so important in a show that's loosely based on real events?
"What I love about it is that you kind of give, like -- I mean, it`s fictional. We all know that women, just -- it didn`t happen the way that Mary Sibley would be able to get away with what she did, but you feel like you`re giving some of these woman a voice somehow by like, re-writing history. You feel like you`re empowering them beyond the grave," Janet Montgomery, who plays Mary Sibley said.
In Season 2, even as the dead rise in Salem as witches, Puritans and Indians all struggle to survive and win the war.
"You start to find that out rather quickly in Season 2," Shane West said.
"My name is John Alden. My father`s boots were the first in Salem and I swore that mine would be the last. The love I left in Salem left me for dead and now I`m back," Alden, played by Shane West says in the Salem trailer.
"Strangely enough, his whole thing is to end this Witch War -- to end all witches in Salem and yet he`s got some kind of sorcery going on with himself," West said.
"I was born in Salem and I plan to die there along with every last devil-loving witch I find," Alden, played by Shane West says in the Salem trailer.
Salem is filmed in Shreveport, Louisiana, and setting the scene of the late 17th Century Salem was no easy task!
"It`s so great to be back in Salem again -- back in the most amazing costumes and most amazing set. It`s so atmospheric and it just takes you right back in," Tamzin Merchant, who plays Anne Hale said.
Located 45 minutes outside of Shreveport on 15 acres of land, the shops, inn, church and gallows were built to represent the late 1600s in Salem, Massachusetts.
"This location is pretty much the most phenomenal set that I`ve ever worked on -- be it on a movie or in television," Salem director and co-executive producer Nike Copus said.
New in Salem Season 2 is a set called "Knockers Hole" -- inhabited by plague and death.
"You really can believe you`re in that world and I think from an acting perspective and from a directing perspective when you put up your camera and you see nothing but people we have walking around here today and our leads in front of it the world just comes to life instantly," Copus said.
"The set for witch we`ve called 'Bat' which has Anne (Tamzin Merchant) suspended upside down with blood pouring out of her hands onto 200 rats on a table -- there`s a lot of little bits of detail," co-creator, executive producer and writer Brannon Braga said.
So how do these remarkable sets affect the actor's acting?
"Because all of this is so real, we can just show up and be the characters. We`re not selling the world to you because the world just exists and it makes it that much easier for us because we can just focus on what`s happening in the scene," Seth Gabel, who plays Cotton Mather said.
The attention to detail in this town is remarkable.
"The town itself is a character. When we were designing this town, there was a lot of debate about how incredibly expensive it was and our position was always 'it`s an investment.' This is the only place we`re going, you know? This is it," Braga said.
"It`s very hard nowadays to see a set, a fully built set as it is. I mean, it`s almost fully working and that`s -- for me, it`s exciting when you put on this wardrobe and you put on the makeup and things like that and go to sets like that. It`s just -- it`s easy. You just fit seamlessly into this town of Salem," Shane West, who plays John Alden said.
Stories of the supernatural have been told for centuries and Salem features a story about a group with a wicked, yet magical power. In Salem, it is said there are no fairy-tales.
"I was hoping for a really ineffective comic witch -- you know, a nose wiggler, but I am playing somebody...I`m playing the soul of violence really," Lucy Lawless said.
"It seems that all the witch stories always come back to Salem. Why do you think that`s the case?" asked Brian Kramp.
"The people of Salem at that time really, truly believed in witches. Witchcraft and witches were a reality for them, so they didn`t doubt it. And it was just so rich that you couldn`t have made up the Salem witch trials," said Ashley Madakwe.
"I mean, it`s a fascinating moment in history. I think it reflects on the best and the worst that we can be from a humanity point of view and it also show themes of suppression, be it suppression of individuals or suppression of sexes and those themes are issues that we perpetually deal with," said Nick Copus.
"Obviously we add magic and witches and all kinds of merriment, but I feel like allegorically it really speaks to what was happening in that time in terms of oppression, oppression of woman and a male-dominated society that`s denying so many of their primal instincts and there are consequences of that," said Seth Gabel.
So what spells will Salem Season 2 bring?
"This season Mary has found herself in exactly the same place she started in Season 1. She`s come into her own and she`s in power, but everyone`s trying to strip her of it. She doesn`t trust anyone. Tituba, Mercy, Anne -- in Season 2 it`s kind of the beginning of Mary`s war," Janet Montgomery said.
"Salem will be ours soon. Isn`t that the best revenge?" Janet Montgomery says as Mary Sibley in the Salem trailer.
"Secrets kill. Bad things happen in the dark and there`s darkness everywhere we go," Lucy Lawless said.
One major secret revealed in Salem Season 2 is that Mary Sibley and John Alden have a son.
"Mary has been maternal. With Mercy you saw that side of her, but this is a very different relationship and you really see her all her love that she had for John goes into this child," Janet Montgomery said.
"It`s eerie. There`s an eeriness to Oliver`s performance when he`s playing my son," Janet Montgomery said.
"He is one scary little dude. It`s not going to go well," Lucy Lawless said.
Salem first appeared as part of WGN America's development slate in July 2012 under the title Malice. On June 4, 2013, WGN America bypassed the pilot stage and placed a series order for 13 episodes, under the new title Salem. On November 8, 2013, filming of the series began in Shreveport, Louisiana, on an expansive set reflecting 17th-century Massachusetts.
On May 15, 2014, Salem was renewed for a 13-episode second season, titled Witch War.
Salem Season 2 premieres April 5th at 9:00 p.m. central time on WGN America! That's Channel 9 on Time Warner Cable and Channel 180 on AT&T U-verse. You can catch Salem on Channel 239 on DISH Network and Channel 307 if you have DIRECTV.