Let it be known that the Baudelaire saga is a grim, harrowing affair. After losing their parents to a mysterious house fire, Violet, Klaus and little baby Sunny are left in the custody of Count Olaf, a distant relative/guardian who will stop at nothing to get his talons on the Baudelaire fortune – even if it means sporting a collection of disguises, each more ridiculous than the last.
It’s this arc that underpins Daniel Handler’s 13-part novel series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, which was first adapted for the big screen in 2004. The end result was a film that remained overly faithful to Handler’s saga, peppered with elements of whimsical comedy that largely stemmed from Jim Carrey’s performance as Olaf.
More than a decade later, Netflix is now on the verge of launching a serialized spin on the Baudelaires entitled Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s seemingly much darker than its cinematic brethren, with Neil Patrick Harris even going so far as to say that Netflix’s upcoming original series is “super faithful” to the books on which it is based.
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 too Stranger Things. I really wanted Olaf to be bad. To be a bad person.
Harris is on board as Count Olaf, the machiavellian monster that torments Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny Baudelaire the moment he lays eyes on them. Here, the actor shares how he got into character:
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.
Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events will unfold via Netflix on January 13. But if it’s a happy, feel-good story you’re after, that story is streaming elsewhere, according to the online streamer.