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Exclusive: When Will We See The Original “STRAIN” Pilot, Featuring John Hurt & Lance Henriksen?

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With the current (and seemingly unstoppable) boom of horror television, one of the most divisive entries among fans is THE STRAIN, FX’s adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s trilogy of vampire novels. With an astounding cast, an experienced showrunner in Carlton Cuse and incredible SFX work, THE STRAIN had almost as many vocal supporters as it did detractors, although the show’s audience has earned it a second season nonetheless. And while THE STRAIN certainly isn’t a perfect horror series (and what horror series is?), the show also had the dual-edge sword of early buzz, cemented by positive reactions to the feature-length, Guillermo del Toro-helmed pilot.

Yet those who have followed the development of THE STRAIN, including FANGORIA, also know that the pilot of THE STRAIN we saw air earlier this summer was different than the initial pilot filmed by del Toro, thanks to late stage reshoots and recasting. And in a recent chat with FANGORIA to promote the upcoming home media release of THE STRAIN, which hits Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD on this Tuesday, December 2nd, del Toro cleared the air about if and when we’ll ever see the original pilot, featuring the unused footage of John Hurt as Abraham Sertrakian.

“No, the footage will not remain on the cutting room floor,” clarified del Toro. “Scheduling John Hurt with the film career that he has became so overwrought that we ended up having to schedule all of his scenes at the end of the season. When we scheduled the shooting of the first season at the end of the pilot, we ended up bumping up against this movie and that movie. His Abraham Sertrakian was so different than the one from David Bradley; quite beautiful, but very different. [The original pilot] is very interesting, and would have been a tantalizing tidbit for the Blu-ray, but it’s something we might indulge in towards the end of the entire series. In the meantime, I have to honor and celebrate that we have gotten such a fantastic Sertrakian out of David Bradley, but as for John’s footage and this Blu-ray, perhaps it’s too soon.”

With the show being a limited-run series of three to five seasons, FANGORIA inquired about whether or not the original pilot would be included on a “Complete Series” Blu-ray box set for THE STRAIN, to which del Toro responded, “Oh yes, absolutely. I would actually try to make that a point.”

Another question mark with the pilot is Lance Henriksen, who confirmed on the Killer POV podcast that he was slated to voice The Master in the series, although he wound up taking the minor role of “Narrator” for the aired pilot as Robin Downes took over the vocal role. When questioned about Henriksen’s contribution to the original pilot, del Toro also spoke about the prestigious genre performer’s involvement.

“Yes, Lance was actually cast by me as The Master in the pilot,” confirmed del Toro. “Lance actually has a few lines in the [aired] pilot, so we did have him and we did use him in the pilot. Again, we had him and we had to make the change for someone who was easier to schedule so that he could voice this and that. But Lance is The Master in my original feature length pilot.”

With season two of THE STRAIN currently underway, it may still be a long time before fans will see John Hurt and Lance Henriksen’s work in the series’ original pilot. But for now, fans can pick up the first season of THE STRAIN in glorious high definition starting next week, and you can learn more about who and what to expect from THE STRAIN’s next season in our upcoming full chat with Guillermo del Toro.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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