WonderCon 2024: The Spiderwick Chronicles Press

Christian Slater, Holly Black, and Tony DIterlizzi
Christian Slater, Holly Black, and Tony Diterlizzi. Photo by Angie Fiedler Sutton.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is getting a television adaptation, to be streamed on the Roku Channel. Some of the cast and the book’s authors were there at WonderCon to promote it.

I asked what their favorite myth or magical creature was. Tony Diterlizzi said, “I mean, look, we wrote eight books about fairies. So I would definitely start with fairies, the fairy folklore. There was a book that came out in the ’70s that was illustrated by Brian Froud and Alan Lee. Brian would go on to design the creatures for The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Alan Lee would work on a little known trilogy called The Lord of the Rings. Holly [Black] and I love that book. It was so scary, it was so amazing.”

Christian Slater went on to joke that since he saw Jaws when he was five, that would be his favorite magic creature, since they were talking about formative scary things.

In terms of this adaptation, I asked the authors what they were looking forward to the most. “We love the original adaptation. The movie was great, it was a blockbustery popcorn fun film. But I think like especially the antagonist, Mulgarath, played now by Christian: he was more like a hulking monster on kind of a rampage in the film. But this iteration of Mulgarath is more psychological. The menace is deeper. And I love it – it’s delicious.”

“You have to really grapple with what it would be like to have an ogre in our midst,” added Black.

“Because they can shape shift into anything,” Slater continued the thought.

I asked Slater what he was looking forward the most in terms of his character. “I’ve only seen the first episode,” he said. “They haven’t sent me the whole show. But there were definitely scenes that I relished. I mean, this was an opportunity because I’m a man ogre and I do want to eat everything that I see. So I did my best to chew all the scenery as much as possible.”

I then got to talk to Alyvia Alyn Lind, who plays Calliope, and Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays Thimbletack. Grazer’s favorite magical creature was Falkor from The Neverending Story. “He’s a luck dragon and he’s fluffy and freakin’ cool, even though he says some creepy stuff to kids. But he doesn’t mean it badly. He doesn’t have any malice. I love that about him.”

Lind said it was the Phoenix from The Spiderwick Chronicles. “It can fly and I really want to be able to fly. Or maybe a sprite – the sprites from Spiderwick are also really cool.”

Grazer continued the thought on the Phoenix. “There was a really cool message, like the metaphor behind the Phoenix is like triumph and like resilience.”

I asked the two what they were looking forward in terms of their characters.

Grazer joked, “Being killed off and dying?” He continued, “Can’t go with that because he’s a baller and ballers don’t die. They just keep surviving. I hope that one day maybe he can turn into a human and I can just hang out with my friends on set one day.”

“I have a really nice arc throughout the season,” Lind said. “I think that she has a lot of twists and turns that you would not expect. I will not explain what those are, because I don’t want to spoil anything. But you definitely never know what she’s thinking. She’s always one step ahead of everyone. So yeah – there’s a very nice arc that I’m really excited to see and watch how it plays out.”

most of the cast and writers of The Spiderwick Chronicles
Most of the cast and writers of The Spiderwick Chronicles. Photo by Angie Fiedler Sutton.

I got a chance to see the first episode, and Lind obviously had a blast playing the character. I asked her what her favorite part was. “Getting to work with all these people was so much fun. That’s a great cast and we’re all such a tight family. And just getting to play evil was super fun. I love playing evil and getting to figure her out and figure out what kind of character she is. Getting to climb on walls was really fun, so that was really cool. I love doing stunts.”

As for Grazer, “Stunts and stuff. I had to get really buff and swole for the role,” he joked (his character is CGI). “I was trying to get my voice box to have abs.”

I asked the two how they approach playing magical creatures. Grazer finally gets a bit serious. “I’ll be honest: it’s a lot like throwing paint at the wall and seeing what sticks. There was a lot of trial and error, I suppose. And they were not hesitant to say what sucked. And I’m super grateful for that. I don’t really know what we landed on even, but I did a bunch of voices and they picked the one they dug the most and it was great. It was taxing. A lot of the time, we did each line in like five or six different voices, and they maybe hybrodized them. I don’t know what they did, but I’m stoked to see.”

Lind agreed with the asking for help. “I was definitely annoying Aron [Eli Coleite, the showrunner and executive producer] at some point with how many questions I was asking him about my character, because I want to do her right and I know that she’s a new character and I didn’t want to just make her feel like she just stuck in there for no reason. I want her to feel like she’s important to the show, so just trying to figure her out and trying to figure out the mix between teenage girls and a hundred year-old fetch.”

I then moved on to the three siblings, Lyon Daniels (who plays Jared), Noah Cottrell (who plays Simon), and Mychala Lee (who plays Mallory). Daniels and Cottrell play twins, and have a special twin language they speak to each other. I asked how difficult it was for them to learn. “It was actually fairly easy,” Daniels said. “We worked with an actual linguistic coach and she created the language and she worked with us on it and the pronunciation. And we kind of just rebuilt it from there with our own dynamic.”

I asked the three what kinds of things they did to bond so they felt like a family. “We hung out a lot,” Lee said. The other two chimed in that the three did karaoke. Cottrell added, “Also being on set with everybody all day: you really start to become a family.”

What are they looking forward to the most in terms of their characters? Daniels takes the lead on this. “I’m excited to see- Jared starts off as like the black sheep of the family. He doesn’t really know where he fits in this place. And I’m excited for people to see him kind of evolve and take on this heroic persona, heroic bravado, and it’s going to be great.”

Lee teased episode five. “It’s a really great turning point for Mallory,” she said. “She kind of steps into her own and her confidence and really gains the warrior spirit that she needs to lead these two along the way.”

“She’s a leader, she’s a warrior for sure,” Cottrell agreed. He then talked about his character. “You kind of see his character develop as the series goes on. A lot changes with him due to the family dynamics. But at the end of the day, you know, family is family and we all love each other in the show.”

I asked them why people should watch the show now. “Honestly,” Daniels said, “I think now is a perfect time, especially since we kind of attune the story to modern audiences and newer generations. We do touch on topics like mental health. It’s also a family of color, but we don’t focus on that – it’s just a family of color, and we don’t really see that represented in media enough, you know? I think it’s important. Especially all of these situations, all of these things, put into a fantasy world – you don’t see that enough. To see a person of color kind of step into this role in this fantasy role.”

“It’s The Spiderwick Chronicles for this generation,” continues Cottrell. “It tackles topics that not just teenagers, but people all around the world struggle with every single day. It portrays it in a way that’s not forcing it on you: it just portrays it in a real way. It’s real people with real problems just in this magical world.”

Lee adds, “I also think in this world, there’s a lot of heaviness going on and this brings that light kind of magical hope that we all kind of need right now. We’re also dealing with real-life situations. It’ll be a good breath of fresh air to people.”

The Spiderwick Chronicles will premiere on The Roku Channel on April 19 with all eight episodes.

Author: Angie Fiedler Sutton

Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, podcaster, and all-round fangirl geek. She has been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others.

She also produces her own podcast, Contents May Vary, where she interviews geeky people about geeky things. You can see all her work (and social media channels) at angiefsutton.com.

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