CBS 'Moonlight' set tour in photos
CBS and Warner Bros. invited Monsters to tour the sets of their new vampire thriller series, “Moonlight,” that stars Alex O’Loughlin, Sophia Myles, Shannyn Sossamon and Jason Dohring last week.
The production of the series is well underway. We were there the day they were shooting episode 6, “Black Crystal,” where Mick St. John (O’Loughlin) and Beth (Myles) were hot on the trail of an ancient vampire poisoning people with a new club drug.
The five participating journalists, including the publicists from Warner Bros. and CBS, met at the WB Studios in the cavernous, historic Stage 14 for a tour of the standing interior sets: Mick’s chic and minimalist loft, his special freezer and office where he works on his computer as well as Beth’s office, the Buzzwire newsroom set.
Dohring, who plays “Josef,” Mick’s wry, sybaritic vampire friend, was our tour guide.
He pointed out the excellent work of the entire art department, which includes art director Michael Atwell, production designer Alfred Sole and set decorator Chris Marsteller, aided by a small army of painters, carpenters, dressers, lead men, and other creative construction personnel.
Mick’s pad was decorated perfectly for his character, the lighting and details representing an old soul trapped in a forever 30 body. Leather, books, textures on the walls, Objet d’art and masculine, clean lines in a mixed palette of cool and warm tones made an inviting room inside the plywood walls constructing this otherworld for filming, propped up by secured 2×4’s, wires and other interior set making magic.
Next stop was the remote “Morgue location” near the Boyle Heights part of Los Angeles, where we were promised an opportunity to taste the “blood” used in the production.
This part of the tour was to have us watch a live scene being filmed. We were given some down time, an opportunity to take in the infamous Linda Vista Hospital in the rough Hollenbeck part of Los Angeles – long abandoned as a medical facility.
This is an old building for the City of Angels. A closer look exposed the broken and boarded up broken windows, cracked exterior walls and peeling paint with the original light fixtures and exterior architectural touches.
Many production companies use this privately owned film set as a location. The film, “Pearl Harbor,” shot some interior scenes here too.
When first dropped off by the Warner Bros. shuttle van, we immediately saw giant “Star Waggons,” (giant RV’s made into dressing rooms) Warner Bros. generator trucks and the enormous full-service catering wagon.
Mick St. John’s sweet, mid-sixties Mercedes classic green convertible was parked next to the food wagon as people were prepping lunch.
Chris Garwood, the assistant prop master took us inside his amazingly organized truck of personal effects for the cast members and specific production accessories.
He was our blood-tasting sommelier, and lined up the faux claret used in the production – a concoction of organic pomegranate and other berry juices kept perfectly chilled for the actors.
We finally were led into the linoleum-floored building where the long, narrow and darkly luminescent halls gave off a whiff of fear and hopeless. We were all feeling it, despite joking with each other to keep the mood light.
The walls were still panted the stock, faded institutional green, and real medical records from the 30’s to the 80’s were discovered by one of the more intrepid of our group who sauntered into another side room when “action” was called.
Down the hall, “Moonlight” leads Mick St. John and Beth were in a tight scene discussing mysterious silver traces found in a blood vial, trying to understand the deaths in a scene from episode 6, while we were gawking at the odd medical records left behind of actual patients.
Linda Vista left a mark on us. Just like that hotel in “The Shining,” this place “shined” too.
A location manager friend of mine shared that Linda Vista is a bona fide Los Angeles haunted building, referring me to the website, The ShadowLands.net, which claims this closed hospital has had reported paranormal activity:
“Los Angeles – Linda Vista hospital – the elevators, operate by themselves… there are terrible odors in the third floor: the smell of sick people, cold spots, and sudden chills. In the crematory there’s lack of air, it’s very dry and eerie when you walk in.”
The hallway of the Morgue set we were standing in was bursting with maimed and bloody stunt corpses laying on stainless steel gurneys.
“What are you doing?” the director snaps at me, after I took a picture of his chair and the monitors in the background.
The publicists jumped in giving the director a bit of assurance. “They’re online journalists,” vouching for us, which really didn’t elicit much of a warmer welcome.
The five of us moved along between takes and hung out with a fried up victim from the episode, half in his body bag and tucked offside in a room, after we had stumbled into a creepy asylum-styled padded cell that had disturbing graffiti left over from something real or imagined.
Herded off to another section of the old hospital, we were given a lunch break prior to interviewing the “Moonlight” stars, Shannyn Sossamon, Alex O’Loughlin and Sophia Myles.
When you have five journalists in a cramped stifling old hospital room with virtually no ventilation, preparing to interview the starring cast of CBS’ “Moonlight,” the results can border on the surreal.
In between bites of a nicely turned out catered set lunch for the entire cast and crew that included fresh carne asada, chile relleno, salmon and a tantalizing assortment of salads, we all mused what, exactly, transpired over time at the forlorn Linda Vista Hospital.
Shannyn Sossamon was up first. A Comic-Con participant for CBS, she listened intently to the various questions, answering directly. She looks like an ex-dancer (which she admitted) and had flawless, creamy skin that barely had any makeup on it.
Shannyn was asked if she was a fan of the genre. “I’ve never been a fan of the aesthetic, but then I’ve never been a super fan of anything in my life,” she shared, explaining that obsessing over anything wasn’t her style. “What I do like about this series is that the vampires in it look and act subtly, and how the producers illuminate the dynamic and backstory through flashbacks for Mick and Coraline,” added Shannyn.
Coraline gets to dress and have more costume and makeup period looks than Beth, as her character met Mick in the fifties, and is a much older vampire, yet still her beauty and youth is preserved on appearances.
“Coraline is an older vampire, like Josef, so the makeup artist and costume designer had fun with looks, the makeup was more severe looking, a strong mouth, and my wardrobe selections have been fun, my character loves drama, and she came from money, so you will see her mixing it periods because she is so old, she doesn’t fit in to today, there’s something a bit strange about her,” finished Shannyn.
We wanted to know how Shannyn came across the part. “Joel (Silver, producer) called me and asked me to play this role, it was nice. He believed I could stretch myself for it, I didn’t really have to read much; it was a nice gesture.”
Asked what her biggest real life fear was, Shannyn surprised us. “The most consistent fear…I sleep with my hands over my neck, all the time.” She assured us it had nothing to do with the show. “I really think in a past life my end came violently and it was something that involved my neck .”
We were then treated to Alex O’Loughlin and Sophia Myles. Both actors are foreign-born, Alex an Australian, and Sophia is a London girl. Both have completely nailed various American accents. I asked which USA accents were the easiest.
“The easiest American accents – the east coast accent comes very naturally to me, said Alex. “That New York, Philly and even the Southern accent for an Aussie palate are the two distinct ones that I had no problem with…then the most difficult one, the Glaswegian Scottish accent,” laughed Alex. “It’s the funniest accent I have ever heard.”
“We’ve developed a real camaraderie, we are both foreigners here,” said Sophia, who heaped praise for her co-star, noting their friendship bonds were strong, since both were so far away from home. “Fate plays quite a big part because of the attraction, added Sophia, “I felt this show would be over the second our characters get together, better that we keep tantalizing the audience.”
Sophia and Alex together both noted the “fantastic atmosphere,” looking forward to coming to work.
Alex talked about his character’s struggle with staying on the straight and narrow. “Every day he wakes up and suppresses those urges, he pursues monsters that way.” Noting the writers and producers had taken radical shifts with the classic vampire premise, Alex said the young production, “was still teething,” laughing at his pun.
The action scenes were brought up, which sparked Alex, “This series has solid action scenes. I’m naturally athletic and try to do as many scenes as I can.” He noted “Moonlight” was an action laced love-story as well as a genre piece. ”It has real soul to it and is sexy without being gratuitously violent.” Alex finished.