Every scientist has the capacity to become a little too obsessed with their work and, in HEMLOCK GROVE, Dr. Pryce (Joel de la Fuente) is no exception. While in Season 1, the particular biological experiments that Dr. Pryce was engaged in were shrouded in mystery, Season 2 will look to shed light on those. Whereas Olivia Godfrey (Famke Janssen) had been content to allow Dr. Pryce to conduct his research virtually unhindered and unsupervised, now that Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgard) has taken over the Godfrey family business, which includes the Godfrey Institute aka the White Tower, things are having to change. Roman wants to have more involvement in what is going on in the day-to-day research. After all, what else is a young man will billions at his disposal supposed to do? Why not try his hand at playing God too?
In a press interview from the set, Joel de la Fuente talked about Dr. Pryce’s driving need to complete his work and yet mind his Godfrey masters as they place demands on his time and specific skills.
Since Dr. Pryce is still employed at the White Tower, how are things under Roman’s rule?
JOEL: It’s a little bit of a transition going from a really established relationship with people and with how things work to a new person who has a bunch of new ideas. It is the cause for a little bit of tension. So they have to find a way to work together, but it may take a little while.
Does Dr. Pryce miss the good old days when Olivia (Famke Janssen) was so hands off and did not come around as much?
JOEL: He just wants to be able to do his work because it’s really important, and suddenly it has gotten harder to do that. So he has to make sure that he’s in a position where he can get that done.
Dr. Pryce also seemed like he was quite fond of Shelley (Madeleine Martin) and now that she has been gone for a while, is he going to be on the search for her since she meant something to him?
JOEL: Shelley is someone that so many people care about, and I would say she may be the only person that he cares about. So her absence is felt by everyone. You feel it a lot. When Season 2 starts, a bit of time has passed so everyone is dealing with her loss in different ways.
What have you noticed to be the primary difference between Season 1 and 2?
JOEL: I think the most obvious different is that in the first season we were working very closely from the book. That was the template going in and even though things differed in certain ways, like somethings were explored more deeply than others, we all had a sense of what we were working towards. For this season so far, we have a sense that a world has been created, but we don’t know where it is going. There is also a sense of expansion that is happening. It’s really started to take up more and more space, and it’s been exciting to take that leap. The show is going to pick up a lot of things from last year and it is going to take them in completely different directions this season. I think people who watched the show last year are going to like it, and I think people just coming into the show will have something to latch onto right away. While there was action in Season 1, I would characterize it as contemplative, which I really enjoyed, but there’s something about Season 2 that there’s a lot of physical action right away and there’s a lot of big events that even if you’re not up to date, right away, you’ll be like, “Oh my god!”
Would you say that the experiments in the White Tower have grown more visually elaborate?
JOEL: I would say a big focus of Season 2 is finding out what’s going on in the White Tower. It’s coming in the front doors, going up to the boardroom and into the basement. You’re going to get a much closer look at what Pryce is up to. So that’s going to be really exciting.
In a show that is filled with these very creepy, potentially dangerous characters, do you think of Dr. Pryce as a mad scientist?
JOEL: I think of him as a mad scientist in the sense that where HEMLOCK GROVE came from gives homage to a lot of genres and a lot of archetypes of mad scientists. So in that sense, I tip my cap to Dr. Moreau, Frankenstein and all the people that he is a descendent of. But at the same time, it is hard to play that once you have that, so it has been really great that Pryce has a very clear sense of what he wants and then how he goes about it are very mysterious. It’s been fun to take certain tropes and twist them. It’s like a new variation on the mad scientist. It is a lot of fun to be in a similar situation or very archetypical situation and then take a different sort of take on it. A lot of times in the past a mad scientist has been a “mad scientist.” But the interesting thing right off the bat was that Pryce is disconnected from his feelings sometimes, or he processes emotion kind of via third parties. He has interesting ways to respond to it. That’s, to me, what’s interesting. He doesn’t respond like a person we would think would respond. That’s fun for me.
After Letha’s death, Norman (Dougray Scott) came to Dr. Pryce to bring her back and he said he couldn’t. How would you describe Dr. Pryce’s current mission with the cryogenics?
JOEL: I would say he is on pace to achieve what it is he is trying to achieve. There’s a kind of excitement as he gets closer and closer to something he’s always been chasing. He’s kind of in the last mile of a marathon that he’s been racing and he thinks he’s going to finish it. Then all these things keep creeping up that are getting in his way, some which may be related to the isolation of the other characters and they are getting in his way. He just wants to finish that race.
Are we going to see a bit more of what makes him tick?
JOEL: I think something that really illustrates the difference for Pryce from Season 1 to Season 2 is that you will see him in his pajamas, more than once, which was kind of scary for me. There is definitely an exploration of the Tower and that is inextricably linked to Pryce. So you’re going to see a lot more of Pryce.
Does Dr. Pryce have a sense of humor? Is there a flip side to him?
JOEL: I think there is. To me, there were things in Season 1 where I could see his sense of humor. But that’s different than if you watch him and people think he’s funny because he’s weird. But I definitely think he has a sense of humor. One way that I think that you can get a handle on him is: if he’s just really weird, my worry is that you just disconnect and think, “What a freakin’ weirdo.” For me, something I think that gives viewers a chance to get into him is his relationship with Shelley. He cares about her. So he wants to do things for her before he would do things for himself. Through that relationship, you see some of his sense of humor. You see a lot more of him that you can identify with. He is a redeemable person, or at least gives you the impression that he could be. That’s what I am trying to convey. Pryce is a person who has both feet in the game. He’s trying to live in this world and be good.
Is Dr. Pryce still nursing a broken heart because of the death of Clementine (Kandyse McClure)? He seemed to have a great fondness for her.
JOEL: He has pictures in his wallet. She may be one of those pictures. It’s possible.
With Clementine’s brother Michael (Demore Barnes) in town investigating, would Dr. Pryce want to help him either to manipulate the investigation or because he genuinely wants to help?
JOEL: I think he’s just trying to get things done that he wants to get done. The less people pay attention to him the better. He has a hard enough time dealing with people as it is. If people left him alone and left him to his project that he is working very hard on, his life work would be done; and it feels like he’s made some in-roads and he is close. So he doesn’t want to take on anything else other than that — but then he has to.
Is Dr. Pryce’s alliance is still with Olivia even though she’s not really running things?
JOEL: He allies himself with whoever allows him to get his work done.
To find out what new and perhaps unnatural experiments Dr. Pryce is involved with at the Godfrey Institute, be sure to tune in on Friday, July 11th when the entire second season of HEMLOCK GROVE will be available for binge-viewing on Netflix.
(Editor’s note: Special thanks goes to Netflix which made this interview possible with a sponsored trip to the set of “Hemlock Grove.”)