The Light from the TV Shows: Chatting with the Cast of WGN’s ‘Salem’

For years, WGN has been a network that’s gotten precious little notice from most cable subscribers outside of Chicago, but in recent years, they’ve been trying to expand their viewership through moves like, for instance, serving as the exclusive U.S. home of the long-running Canadian comedy, Corner Gas. Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the ratings-grabber that they’d hoped it might be, but things are on the upswing now that the network has branched out and begun their own original programming, kicking off their new roster with the supernatural period-piece drama Salem.

Bullz-Eye was invited to visit the set a few weeks back, and we were amazed at how well they’ve captured the look and feel of the era, but we were a little bit thrown when we discovered that our interview ops with the cast members were to be done on camera…even if we weren’t going to be using the footage! Still, we had four very nice chats during the course of the day, each featuring two cast members, and we got a bit of insight into how each of them came to join the series, who their characters are, and what we can expect from Salem as the series rolls through its first season.

XB-Salem

Xander Berkeley and Tamzin Merchant

Bullz-Eye: Had you both been actively looking for series work when this came about?

Xander Berkeley: Serious work or series work? [Laughs.]

Tamzin Merchant: I’m always constantly looking for work wherever! I’m always surprised if anyone wants to cast me in something. [Laughs.] I’m always, like, “Really? Okay! Cool! I’ll do it!”

BE: What was it about this particular project that appealed to you?

TM: That they wanted to hire me. [Laughs.] No, I’m joking. I just loved the script, and I loved the world. I loved that the magic meets history, and…it’s been really cool for that reason.

BE: Xander, you actually had some hesitations about signing onto the series at first.

XB: Well, you know, partly because I have a family, and it’s a long way away, so I was a little concerned on that front. My wife (Sarah Clarke) acts and works a lot, and there were certain projects that were pending for her, and we can’t both be away. So those were the only real concerns. The script was spellbinding from day one, and the project is awesome. I’m so glad to be part of it.

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