The second go-around at adapting Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is one of my most anticipated projects next year, as an avid reader of the books growing up. The series is definitely up there with Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and His Dark Materials as formative reading for me. Now, Netflix has opened its deep pockets for an eight-episode series about the constantly-embattled Baudelaire orphans Violet, Klaus, and Sunny and the trecherous Count Olaf, played by Neil Patrick Harris, with Patrick Warburton narrating and performing as the titular (and fictional) author Lemony Snicket.
Harris spoke with Collider about the upcoming series, which arrives early next month on Friday, January 13 (appropriately), detailing how their adaptation plans, faithfulness to the books, comparisons to Netflix’s other stylized, eight-episode tale starring children named Stranger Things, and the involvement of Snicket’s real alter ego Daniel Handler.
Each book will recieve two episodes apiece, and three seasons are planned to adapt all 13 in the series. It also explains why all the season 1 trailers have showcased scenes from the first four books. It’s an opportunity for a do-over and reintroduction after the 2004 film, which adapted the first three books quite liberally, with Jim Carrey as Olaf failed to start a franchise. While Harris said Netflix initially worried about the cross-generational appeal of the series, now they’re working on differentiating it from Stranger Things.
I think it’s super faithful to the books. I think at times it’s shockingly dark. From what I gathered, Netflix was concerned that adults weren’t going to be able to value it because it was skewing towards a younger demographic. And I think now that it’s done, they want to make sure the kids still value it and it’s not gone tooStranger Things. I really wanted Olaf to be bad. To be a bad person.
As for his role, he went as villainously theatrical as possible.
I tried to just focus as much as I could on being as literary possible and try to honor how Olaf was described by Lemony [Snicket] and by Daniel Handler. So, a lot of piercing darkness and sort of delusional dementia. He thinks he’s so handsome and he thinks he’s incredibly charming and gifted as an actor, and yet he’s not. So I didn’t want to be overly charming, I wanted to be just awful. Distinctly mean. And then let the levity of the situation inform the takeaway for the viewer. I didn’t want to make him like myself.
He added that Handler was very much involved as in the series, helping to write not just the episodes, but the theme song, as well as doing a cameo. As for a season 2? Harris said “if we’re lucky enough.”
We’re all in for A Series of Unfortunate Events when January 13 comes and I can’t wait. What about you?