The above clip is from the second episode of ‘Stan Against Evil’s new third season, which is titled ‘The Hex Files’ and premiers tonight, Wednesday, October 31, at 10:30pm. The episode follows two eerily familiar paranormal investigators who arrive to investigate the Black Hat Society. Stan also searches for a bigger evil ally that can help defeat Constable Eccles. ‘The Hex Files’ follows horror comedy’s season premiere, which is titled ‘Hell is What You Make It,’ and premiers at 10pm.
Defeating curses that not only impact them personally, but also their co-workers and neighbors that they have unwittingly come to care about, can be a daunting task for many people. The process can become even more alarming when they reluctantly have to go against every instinct they’ve ever had, and start to change their actions, so that everyone’s destinies aren’t irrevocably changed forever. That important lesson is a notable and harrowing lesson that the title character of the acclaimed IFC horror-comedy series, ‘Stan Against Evil,’ is realizing throughout its new third season.
Creator, executive producer and actor, Dana Gould, continues to make ‘Stan Against Evil’ relatable and humorous, despite its horror origins. The seemingly implausible circumstances that the title character and his fellow residents in his hometown of Willard’s Mill showcases how even the most improbable situations can ultimately emphasize realistic emotions. Actor John C. McGinley, who portrays the title character and also serves as a producer, gives a quirky and passionate portrayal of Stan. The character continues to showcase how an anti-hero, who has become the epitome of remaining stuck in the past and not wanting to care about anyone else, can ultimately impact the future of everyone in his life.
In honor of Halloween, ‘Stan Against Evil‘s third season is set to premiere tonight at 10pm on IFC. The eight-episode season will feature such frightening creatures as nightmarish moths, possessed puppets and evil plumbers, which swiftly take over the title character’s quaint New England town.
‘Stan Against Evil’s third season picks up immediately after the events of the Season 2 finale, with Stan and Evie (Janet Varney) back in Willard’s Mill. The duo is dealing with the consequences of Stan traveling through time to save his dead wife, Claire. In doing so, he inadvertently opened a portal between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead, which allows evil forces to truly take over the town, and even some of its inhabitants. Although always the skeptic at first, Stan must work with Evie to once more save the town, even if it means making a literal deal with the devil.
Like the initial two seasons, ‘Stan Against Evil’s third season was shot in and around Atlanta. Shockya was generously given the opportunity by IFC over the summer to visit the independent genre series’ set during the production of the new season. Much like during our ‘Stan Against Evil’ set visit during the filming of the show’s second season last year, we were able to once again tour the surrounding property of the real two-story house in Lithia Springs, Georgia that stands in for Stan’s residence. We were also offered the opportunity to witness the show filming a key scene from the season’s third episode, ‘Larva My Life,’ and participate in a press conference with the cast and crew, at the Iris Bred Pub & Restaurant in Douglasville, Georgia.
Stan’s shelter is comfortably situated on a large parcel of property that’s lined with old trees that seemingly protect him from the monstrous creatures, as well as his fellow residents in his New Hampshire town, that haunt him. Upon initially entering the home, the reporters caught a glimpse of Stan’s favorite and worn recliner in his living room, where he often sits to escape his troubles. The tour continued through the title character’s kitchen, before ascending up a narrow staircase, whose wall was lined with Miller family photos. The second level of the house featured the sewing room, where Stan’s late wife, Claire, stored her books and weapons. The upstairs also includes the married couple’s bedroom, which the anti-hero keeps as a memorial of sorts to his spouse.
The journalists then traveled to the Iris Bred Pub & Restaurant to participate in an interview with Gould, MCGinley and Varney. The trio was accompanied by actress Deborah Baker, Jr., who plays Stan’s daughter, Denise; actor Nate Mooney, who portrays Deputy Leon Drinkwater, Evie’s right-hand man; and David Koechner, who plays Kenny, Evie’s ex-husband and the father of her daughter, Gracie.
“What was so fun in the first two seasons, and is continuing into the third season, is that there’s a playfulness between all of the characters. There’s some bananas stuff that happens this season,” Varney revealed during the beginning of the press conference. “It’s an ambitious season, but there’s been silly fun in the scripts. When I read the scripts, I thought, I can’ believe we’re going to do this! But it’s been great so far.”
Baker agreed with her co-star, saying that “There’s so much fun stuff I get to do this season. I had a song and dance number this morning, and my husband had a lot of moves and tips for me. (Crowd laughs.) He had a lot of notes.”
The actress added that “this season overall has been great. I’ve gotten to do more things with Nate, who I adore. We don’t normally have a lot of scenes together.” Mooney chimed in that putting their characters together “has been like oxygen and fire,” which also garnered a laugh.
Baker then admitted that “I think this is my favorite season so far.” Mooney agreed, saying “I concur. I’m leaning more into the idea that Leon is the culmination of the three decades of television that Dana has watched. He hasn’t seen anything from 1988 on. Leon is the empty vessel for all the ideas from the classic television that Dana has seen from the ’50s to the ’70s. It’s always fun to see what Dana’s going to throw our way.”
During the second season’s finale, Stan has finally accepted the fact that his late wife, Claire, who died during the series’ pilot, is truly gone, and he can’t bring her back to life. “Dana has said that while the scripts for this (third) season started to come together, Stan starts to realize that everything he has ever done in his life has been wrong. Everything has added up to nothing working out,” McGinley pointed out. “He tried to save his wife, and he couldn’t. He tried to save Evie in the first episode of this year, but he failed at that. So this guy has to go against every instinct he’s every had. So that’s the arc for Stan throughout Season 3.”
Baker then called the writing for the new season really good, so she and her co-stars always want to get at least one shot of every scene the way that it was scribed. But the cast is also enthusiastic to improvising some aspects of their scenes while they’re shooting. “John’s so open. I have too many crazy ideas, and he’s open to me being as truly insane as I am!,” the actress shared, which garnered a laugh from the reporters. “So is Dana. I’ll ask him, ‘Can I try this?,’ and he says, “Okay, but it may or may not make the show.’ But they’re such playful scripts to start with, and it’s open to endless possibilities.”
During the process of improvising, Varney is constantly surprised by the ideas her co-stars bring to each scene. “I can’t say that about every show I’ve worked on. I can’t even anticipate the way the things on the page are going to be interpreted by my co-stars. So it’s delightful” to work together on the set, “and I try not to ruin their take.”
McGinley agreed with his co-stars’ sentiments, and added that “One thing that Dana has done successfully is give us freedom as actors. But we, as actors, understand that the scenes will be chopped together during post (production). Each episode is 21 minutes and 35 seconds, so there are going to be a lot of ‘Sophie’s Choices’ chops that happen, especially during the improved takes. We have to serve the story first, and there’s an A and B, and sometimes even a C, story. So there can be three stories going in 21 minutes and 35 seconds, and that’s the hard part about television.”
The actor-producer added that “some of Deborah’s ideas don’t come to fruition in the episodes, but we occasionally revisit them. We’ll make notes, such as, remind Deborah to mind that again for Season 3, because it didn’t make it into Season 2, Episode 7…At times, it can be frustrating, because you feel like you’re throwing away gold if you don’t use things when you first film them, but they do at times pop up in future episodes.”
“Well, for us, as just actors, it’s not as frustrating,” Varney admitted. “If we improv something, we don’t remember it five minutes later! So the things we say go into the ether. They’ll then show up later, and we’ll be like, ‘Did I say that?!?”
“I also think (the improv) generates a great energy on set,” Baker divulged. “We walk away thinking, I killed it! I don’t remember what I said, but I feel good inside!”
The crew is also supportive of the cast’s inclination to improv, Varney also revealed. “We have a short schedule, and a lot of stuff we have to get done, but there’s so many moments where the different departments have each other’s backs. That doesn’t always happen on shows,” she admitted. “Sometimes there’s a rivalry, so they don’t support each other. But that’s not the case on this show. Everyone has each other’s backs.”
While ‘Stan Against Evil’ is only in its third season, other series that have run longer develop “a toxic ambivalence, and that can be brutal,” McGinley also divulged. “That’s definitely not true here. It’s a real summer camp situation,” Varney added.
The actors then delved into what the emotional scene between Stan and Evie at the end of the Season 2 finale may mean for the two characters during the new season. “Dana has made it clear that there’s not going to be an inappropriate relationship between them. That’s not where Stan’s focus is,” McGinley shared. He agreed with Varney when she then said, “Stan’s still married.”
“Janet and I approached that long walk and talk scene in an ambitiously emotional way,” McGinley explained. He felt it was a great way to end the horror comedy’s sophomore season. “For that to be included in the final episode of Season 2 was so exciting. The way it was scheduled, we didn’t have to shoot that scene until the last night. That was appropriate, but you can’t always get it that way…It wasn’t a rushed job. Every once in a while, it started raining, which we kept, because it was perfect. That was as emotionally ambitious as a horror comedy could want to be, and it wasn’t lost on Janet or myself.”
When the actors were then asked if they relate to their characters at all, Baker admitted with a laugh that she feels that she’s the most like her character. “My husband always says, ‘Denise is who you would be if you weren’t married to me.’ I think Denise is a lot more playful and out there than I am, though.”
But Varney interjected that she thinks her co-star isn’t as self-absorbed as her character. “Deborah is one of the most generous and passionate people I’ve ever known, so that’s a huge difference” between Baker and Denise. “Thank you!,” Baker emotionally responded.
Mooney then chimed in that he doesn’t think he has as many allusions of grandeur that his character has, which garnered laughs from his co-stars. “Leon has feelings of misplace authority. He also has a short attention span; he’s a wonderfully curious individual.”
Varney admitted that in the areas that she tries to protect the most, Evie’s more liberal. “I wish I had more of her grit, and the desire to protect myself in that way,” she admitted.
“Janet’s so cool!,” Baker then proclaimed. “If you go to her house, you’ll see that she makes murals…I think Janet’s way cooler than Evie!” Varney then garnered laughs when she then chimed in, “This is getting embarrassing!”
The title character of the show is a culmination of McGinley and Gould’s fathers, the actor then shared. “Stan and I have very little in common,” the performer admitted. “So it’s fun to play someone who you have very little in common with, especially as a father,” both on- and off-screen. But Stan’s “so well rendered that actors love playing characters like him.”
Filming ‘Stan Against Evil’ in Atlanta for the past three seasons is an experience that the cast embraces. “I love Atlanta, and miss it when I’m back in Los Angeles,” Baker admitted. “I try to explore it as much as possible when I’m recharging over the weekends. I think this weekend, I’m going to make Nate go with me to a park that’s filled with baby doll heads (Doll’s Head Trail at Constitution Lakes Park),” which garnered laughs from the journalists. “But she’s nothing like Denise!,” Varney exclaimed with a laugh. “But I also love the museums and food,” Baker added.
Varney also noted that she also really loves the city they film in. “I can’t say that I’m more in love with it now, because I’ve loved it for so many years. It feels like no time has passed. On the first day I drive back to Stan’s house each season, I feel like I was just here, which is great.”
“Plus, we have almost the same exact crew (for every season), so it feels as though almost no time has past,” Baker also admitted. “It’s like we’re coming back to summer camp.”
Gould then joined the press conference, and McGinley asked the show’s creator what some of his favorite parts of Atlanta are while they film the horror comedy. “There are a lot of things here that I enjoy. When we’re not filming, I come down and perform at a club called Laughing Skull. So I’m here twice a year for extended stays, and I consider it my home away from home,” he shared. The creator added that “Like Janet said, once I get in the car when I arrive here, it feels like I never left. The people here are great.”
One day of shooting in Atlanta that Gould fondly remembers was when the cast and crew were filming in an antique store. “I found a ceramic armadillo that was wearing a cowboy hat, and held salt and pepper shakers. I thought, that’s going home,” which garnered laughs from the cast and reporters. “So I asked the woman who ran the store if it was for sale and for how much. She said ‘Yes, 20 bucks, sold!’ So I gave her 20 bucks and took it home, and found out later that it was a prop that we put in the store,” which garnered more laughs.
“It was originally selected to be put in my character’s house, and (the crew) doubled it up for the antique store. So I paid 20 bucks for my own stuff,” Gould shared. “Molly Coffee, our art director, knew me well enough that when she saw it, she thought it would be great for (my character) Kevin’s house. I then saw it in the store and decided to bring it back to my own home.”
One aspect of the new season that Varney is excited for audiences to see is “a ‘Vampire Diaries’ nod, and I got to play a vampire. That was more exciting than I thought it was going to be,” she admitted. “I got my fangs and thought, this is wonderful! I’m a different person!”
The actors were also happy to work with the guest stars who appeared throughout the third season. “I got to work with Christopher Mintz-Plasse again, and this is our third show together. We also did ‘The Great Indoors’ together, as well as the Go90 and Tumblr comedy, ‘Blark & Son.’ We are truly friends with each other, and want to work together on everything,” Baker shared.
“Chris said that he ‘wanted to do the show with the demons,’ so I told Dana that Chris really wanted to be on the show. So Dana said, ‘Okay, we’ll figure it out.’ So he got to be my vampire lover,” the actress added. “So all of my dreams are coming true!”
Baker also noted that Mintz-Plasse’s “such a delight, and was so happy to be a part of the show. On his last day, he said, ‘Deborah, your cast is so nice. You have a great group here. Thank you so much for getting me on the show.'”
Gould added that “What’s great is that they’re all friends. The casting director had it pretty easy, and was like, ‘Christopher Mintz-Plasse is going to do this, David Koechner‘s going to do that.’ We’re incredibly lucky that we have such a talented group of people who were willing to come down here and goof around.”
The creator added that “I think the second season of the show is better than the first season, and the third season is better than the second season. The show gets to do two things-it has this over-arching mythology, and every year, Stan and Evie go on a quest that has an over-arching flow throughout the season. Inside that, you can put in these other shows that you can thread through, and you get to parody ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ I know the fanbase of the show, and these are the things that viewers want to see.”
After Stan and Evie returned to Willard’s Mill after their time traveling adventures in Season 2, there was some interest raised over whether the New Hampshire town would enter into a post-apocalyptic universe. “Well, we pick up Season 3 exactly where Season 2 ended,” Gould revealed. “The title of the first episode is ‘Hell Is What You Make It.’ It took awhile to figure out the direction of the story. I didn’t know what Season 3 would be when I finished Season 2. Having painted myself into a corner, I was forced to come up with something clever to get out of it. That’s a great challenge, which leads to different opportunities. I think, since I did that, now I can do this,” the creator explained.
“At the end of Season 2, Stan’s goal was to go back in time, and save his wife. He did everything he was supposed to do, and it still didn’t work. So we pick up Season 3 with Stan realizing that nothing he does works. So he’s having a crisis of confidence. So he spends this season following through on a plan to rebuild his own identity,” Gould also divulged.
The creator then delved into the fact that he cherishes using practical effects on the set while the cast and crew are filming each episode. “For this show to be both scary and funny, which is the goal, the (effects) have to be practical. The horror and comedy require separate, but equal, suspensions of disbelief. Comedy doesn’t work when it’s a CG effect. When your eye says, that’s not real, it takes the air out of the suspension of disbelief that you need to make something funny,” especially in this horror world.
“I can only say that because I’ve seen it work…I like that I get to go to the monster shop in February, and sit with the team at Autonomous (FX, which specializes in all aspects of special makeup, animatronic, prosthetic and prop effects for films and television shows, and works on ‘Stan Against Evil’). It’s fun blowing stuff up!,” the creator exclaimed.
Having closely worked with the core cast during the first two seasons, Gould was also easily able to tailor their characters for Season 3 around their work ethic. “Even in Season 2, we really knew who the characters were, which allowed them to write themselves. The minute I knew how I was going to paint myself out the corner that I find myself in in the second episode, then I knew what John would do in his portrayal of Stan. I then knew how Evie would react to him. These actors are so talented in their roles, and we also have very talented writers. That makes my job a lot easier.”
In addition to working with the main cast throughout the three seasons that ‘Stan Against Evil’ has been in production, collaboration with guest stars like Koechner is something the cast and crew cherishes. The actor then joined the press conference, and admitted that he also embraces the experiences of appearing on the show, especially with the transformation his character of Kenny goes through during Season 3.
**SPOILER ALERT** When asked what the process of Kenny transforming into a caterpillar during the current season was like for him, Koechner responded, “You can think all your life about what it would be like an actor. Then you get to come to the set for a week, and be covered in cobwebs that are made out of silk. Then the next day, you get to be a caterpillar, and then the day after that, you get to be a moth. The great days in show business are when you get to die, and then transform into a moth. So to me, this is one of the greatest days I’ve had in show business,” he shared, with amusement in his voice, which garnered a laugh. “This rivals anything else I’ve done!” **END SPOILER ALERT**
The actors also contemplated what Kenny’s transformation means for his relationship with Evie. Varney said with a laugh, “I’m sure that Evie would have liked Kenny to express personal growth, just not this kind! He really does transform!”
When reflecting on his character’s relation with his ex-wife, Koechner said to Varney that her character “must have been very young when we got married…Her mother must have demanded, ‘You’re already 19; you might want to get married! But anyone with any maturity would have thought, that guy’s not going anywhere.”
Varney then pointed out that “We haven’t been given any kind of backstory about why Evie got together with Kenny. I’d like to see that backstory.”
“But Evie does a minor place for (Kenny) in her heart. She doesn’t want him to die,” Koechner noted. Varney agreed, saying “I can identify with having a relationship with someone, and worrying about them” once the relationship is over. “They do have a kid together, and she doesn’t want Grace to lose her dad.”
In addition to expressing his appreciation for the cast’s connection to their character, Gould also shared that he didn’t yet have a plan for where the story for the show would be headed if it’s renewed for a fourth season. He divulged, “I know it’s a solvable problem. There are two writing processes; there’s the character arc, and I know where John and Janet’s characters would go. Then there’s also the process of deciding what I want to parody. For this season, we also have ‘The X-Files’ and ‘Godzilla.’ There are genres that I like to touch on. There are a lot of things that I wanted to do for this season that got shifted out…It’s a really fun job, and I enjoy working on the show.”