The Five Spot: Stuart Carolan, EP/Showrunner, ‘The Alienist: Angel of Darkness’

Turn-of-the-century Gotham is revisited for season two of TNT series
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The Alienist: Angel of Darkness begins on TNT July 19. Set in New York in the late 1800s, Angel of Darkness follows Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a brilliant psychiatrist or, in the parlance of the period, an alienist. Season one, called The Alienist, saw Kreizler and his team, a newspaper illustrator and a secretary focused on becoming New York’s first female police detective, track down a person murdering young boys.

Stuart Carolan

Stuart Carolan

Season two sees the trio searching for the kidnapped infant daughter of the Spanish consular. TNT will air two episodes every Sunday until the finale on Sunday, Aug. 9.

The series is based on novels by Caleb Carr.

Stuart Carolan, executive producer and showrunner, shared about Angel of Darkness with Multichannel News senior content producer Michael Malone from his Ireland base. An edited transcript follows.

How did you get involved with the project? I had worked with producer Rosie Swedlin before and know her well. I was asked to pitch first. I sent the pitch to Paramount and to TNT. It was 10 people on a Zoom call before it came fashionable.

Any COVID issues in terms of shooting the season? We wrapped in Budapest in October, then moved to London and post was in Los Angeles in January. We started hearing about COVID then, but we had everything in the can.

Tell me about the case at the heart of Angel of Darkness. It’s a missing-child case set against the backdrop of the tensions between Spain and the United States with the war in Cuba looming. What we have is the child of the Spanish ambassador who goes missing, and Sara Howard [played by Dakota Fanning] is called to investigate. At the same time, Dr. Kreizler [Daniel Brühl] is looking at another case where there’s a woman accused of murdering a child. We connect both cases, and realize someone is stealing children and possibly murdering them.

(From l.): Dakota Fanning, Daniel Brühl and Luke Evans help Stuart Carolan (r.) spin a tale of old New York in ‘The Alienist: Angel of Darkness.’

(From l.): Dakota Fanning, Daniel Brühl and Luke Evans help Stuart Carolan (r.) spin a tale of old New York in ‘The Alienist: Angel of Darkness.’

These are period pieces, but what about them makes them timely in 2020? There’s a lot of stuff that’s pretty relevant. Sara Howard was established in the book as an exceptional woman, a trailblazer. That speaks to a lot of women at the moment, especially after Me Too. She was battling sexism, she was battling misogyny.

Other things we were conscious of, when you look at Black Lives Matter, there’s Joanna [Brittany Marie Batchelder] and Cyrus [Robert Ray Wisdom]. Joanna was introduced very briefly in season one. She worked at the Philadelphia Tribune. In season two, she comes to New York to work at The New York Times. We took a bit of artistic license. The first African-American reporter at The New York Times [arrived in] 1945. We tried to bring her into the story in a big way.

In terms of Cyrus, he worked with Kreizler, driving his carriage. We wanted to give him a little more agency. We set him up owning the Montrose Oyster Saloon. The historical reference we used is a man named Thomas Downing, an African-American abolitionist. He started an oyster bar in the 1820s and it became one of New York’s best oyster bars. He was a huge figure at the time.

Thoughts on TNT showing two episodes a night? I think that’s fantastic. Especially in the era of streaming — you get used to binge-watching. You watch it, it will grab you, and by the time you get through two, hopefully, you’re hooked. 

BONUS FIVE

Shows on your DVR? Normal People on Hulu, I May Destroy You on HBO, I Am Not Okay With This on Netflix. Waiting for third seasons of Succession, Atlanta.

All-time top TV show? The Sopranos

Destinations on your bucket list? Once COVID is behind us, I want to go back to Italy. For the moment I’m at home in Dublin and swimming daily in the Irish Sea in a place known as the Forty Foot.

Books on your nightstand? Shakespeare in a Divided America by James Shapiro, Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, Show Them a Good Time by Nicole Flattery, Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

Recent memorable meal? A roving tour of Nepalese Momo Dumpling restaurants in Jackson Heights, New York.

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