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Thursday, May 13, 2021

[Interview] “Castlevania” Executive Producer on Bigger Bloodshed, the End of Dracula, and the Future of the Series

Castlevania’s executive producer, Kevin Kolde, breaks down the animated series’ bloody final season, that big twist, and the likelihood of spin-offs.

There used to be a dismissive knee-jerk reaction whenever a new adaptation of a video game series got announced, but the stellar work that’s been accomplished through Netflix’s Castlevania series has confidently broken the “video game curse.” Castlevania’s mature and sophisticated breakdown of gothic horror and action often feels more like a horror-infused Game of Thrones than a hack-and-slash monster series. Castlevania challenges horror expectations with gorgeous animation and its success has started a whole adult animated trend on Netflix. 

Castlevania’s fourth and final season is its biggest yet (our review here). A demonic power vacuum ripples through the world and leaves Trevor and Sypha with more enemies than ever before. With Castlevania’s final season now available, the series’ executive producer, Kevin Kolde, details the production of these final episodes, why the horror show is really a love story at its core, and if this is really the end of Castlevania or if a resurrection is in the cards.

*This interview contains spoilers for all four seasons of Castlevania*

Bloody Disgusting: When season four of Castlevania got announced it was also revealed that it would be the final season. Was the plan always for it to end with four seasons or was there an even longer story envisioned at one point?

Kevin Kolde: The plan was always to end with the fourth season. The series was kind of split into two halves. Season one really focuses on telling the story from Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Then the show did well and the characters were loved, so we thought it’d be good to expand upon the story, which is what pushed us into seasons three and four. So the plan was to end with season four and we approached season three from that standpoint, even though we didn’t know that a season four was a sure thing at the time. Thankfully we were able to bring all those threads together. 

BD: There are tons of nods from the Castlevania games that longtime fans of the series can appreciate. Were there any other major references or elements from the games that you wanted to include, but weren’t able to happen?

Kolde: A lot of that stuff will happen organically. However, there will be specific elements that we’ll consciously decide on, like Alucard’s shield coming from Symphony of the Night. The animators and artists have also packed in all sorts of Easter eggs that don’t distract from the story or anything. It’s so exciting to find all of that stuff hidden away and I honestly can’t even tell you about every detail that’s in there. There are just so many. It’s fun, for me at least, for when the fans discover those things, start to share them, and then look for even more.

BD: Death is a classic Castlevania character and you incorporate him beautifully into this final season. Was the intention always to include Death at some point? Was the big twist around the character always part of the plan?

Kolde: I’ll speak for Warren Ellis here and hopefully I’m right, but I believe that the plan was always for Death to be the final villain behind everything in the fourth season and the one who wants to bring Dracula back. It just makes sense from a story and game lore standpoint. It’s a big moment when that gets revealed and it definitely needs to be done carefully and at the right moment. I think it works out pretty well with how we execute it. Malcolm McDowell is just amazing too and we were super lucky to get him. He does a great job and all of his dialogue with Trevor at the end is some of my favorite stuff from the entire series. 

BD: Castlevania has a large cast of characters and you add even more figures into the mix this year. Talk a little bit on figuring out the structure of this season and how characters were split up?

Kolde: Warren Ellis has been the architect behind seasons three and four, but really the entire series. To his credit, he was able to bring in all of these complex characters, elements, and storylines, and find ways to bring them together and keep them all on track. Part of that was planning from the beginning around the structure of the third and fourth seasons, but it’s still not an easy task and it becomes even harder since we’re dealing with half-hour shows. An hour-long show is typically what you’d have for this type of story when it’s in live-action.

BD: I love that despite all of the violence in Castlevania, it essentially boils down to a love story. Why did it seem important to emphasize these themes during the final episodes?

Kolde: Because there’s got to be a reason for it all, right? The underlying humanity of it all and what’s the point of this giant war. These questions have always been important and we wanted to make sure the characters and their stories have meaning. I think what’s special about these episodes is that we give them an ending by really giving them a beginning for the first time. They all finally have a chance to experience life without the influence, or under the shadow of, Dracula—including Dracula himself! It’s the first time in the series where it feels like the characters might have a life and can breathe. 

It’s so satisfying, especially since this season starts with some characters in such a bad place, like Alucard. He’s probably suffered more than any other character. He lost his mom, his dad goes nuts and hurts him, then he has to go and kill his dad, and then he has a bad experience with Trevor and Sypha in season three. He’s definitely been kicked down a lot.

BD: There’s been news over continuing this universe through spin-offs or other projects and the series definitely ends with threads that could be picked up on. What can you say about continuing the Castlevania universe or at least what you think more stories might explore?

Kolde: There’s not much that we can get into at this point, but obviously the Castlevania universe is rich with characters and stories throughout history, including history that’s prior to the adventures of Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard, as well as stuff that’s far in the universe’s future. Our goal has always been to faithfully tell the stories from the Castlevania universe and there’s plenty of places that we can go in the future. Before we head into whatever is next, we’re just focusing on the audience enjoying this final season as much as possible.

BD: Additionally, there are more Netflix animated series that are adapting video games, much like Castlevania. Would you be interested in some sort of Netflix connected universe that includes Castlevania and bridges other series?

Kolde: Personally, it’s not a goal of mine at this point. Castlevania as a world of its own has so much to explore that it’s still far too early to merge all of that with the world and characters from another video game. At some point in the future it might be worth looking into that, but there’s so much been untold and untouched in Castlevania, which is our priority. 

BD: Finally, what do you hope that people take away from this concluding season of the series and what were you trying to say in these final episodes?

Kolde: We just wanted to do justice to these characters, their journeys, and their storylines. Knowing that this was the last season, the team and everyone involved really gave it everything that they had. On the animation side of things you’re going to see some of the most spectacular animation that we’ve had from out of the entire series. I think the cast comes through beautifully in these episodes and the stories just really respectfully handle everything that’s been building in a meaningful way. I’m just excited for people to be able to experience and that they enjoy watching it as much as we did making it.

All four seasons of Castlevania are available to stream on Netflix.


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