Candid behind the scenes moments with cast of WGN America’s “Salem”

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LASTONEBy, Heather Warner

Elise Eberle, who plays Mercy Lewis in WGN America’s hit series “Salem” says,  “I knew it when I read the script. I was like (scream) Ahhh, I have to do it!”

Eberle just may have been onto something. The witchy drama is a hit. In it’s first week, “Salem” debuted with 3.4 million total viewers. The numbers have carried into the third week now, and WGN America just announced it is renewing the drama for a second season.

The cast is committed to “Salem’s” success.  Each of them, brings intensity to their character, sometimes even surprising themselves!  “What’s so funny is I didn’t audition with that scream. I auditioned doing the four legs in the marketplace, but I didn’t realize I had that scream until the rehearsal.  Now i’m known for having a very loud scream,” laughs Eberle.

She can joke about some of the horror exuded on screen, but when it comes down to it,  it can be downright creepy working on an outdoor set. It’s in the middle of nowhere, where witches and ghouls (albeit in costume,)  are lurking around in the dark.

“If you walk away to try to go to the bathroom or go to craft, it’s pretty eerie out there. You’re in the boonies,” says Shane West, who plays John Alden.

The scenes can be just as haunting as the set at times.  “I have first hand memories in my head of what it’s like to see some pretty terrible things. I know it’s not real, and we’re pretending, but it does effect you,” adds Seth Gabel, who plays Cotton Mather.  “But i feel it’s important to face those images and understand them, because it happened, and in many ways this is a cautionary tale to make sure these things don’t happen again.”

It’s a cautionary tale, spawning from a dark time in american history, which is now being brought back to life in WGN America’s “Salem.”

“You get to go on a journey that’s both imagination and history. So there’s a lot of different resources to search for research.  And it’s been so much fun.
Fun– but grueling,” says Xander Berkeley (Magistrate Hale.) For each of the thirteen episodes that air this season, the cast and crew work 14 hours a day, seven days straight.

Tamzin Merchant, who plays Anne Hale in “Salem” adds, “And it’s not just the 14 hour day, but the many hours when you get home to learn and prepare for the day that’s ahead. It’s grueling, but at the same time when you love the project, and you feel everyone around you is equally committed to it, it’s fun!”

When asked about the biggest surprise this season, Janet Montgomery (Mary Sibley,) had this to say, ” I get killed. Just kidding!  We both die in episode 5!”  Laughing, she adds, “We both kill each other in a Romeo and Juliet style of way, halfway through the first season.”

Montgomery jokes about an upcoming episode, while in fact, the secrets of  “Salem” are kept so quiet,  the cast has no idea what lies ahead. They’re literally handed the scripts for each episode days before the shoot.

“There are so many twists and turns to the story, and we haven’t even read the season finale yet” says, Montgomery.

You can catch “Salem” Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on WGN America.