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‘THEM’ Creator Little Marvin Talks Terror in the American Dream

by Waylon Jordan
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THEM

THEM is set to debut in just a couple of days on Amazon Prime, and series creator Little Marvin will tell you he’s the luckiest man in the world.

Marvin sat down with iHorror to talk about the show’s conception, and his bold desire to instill terror in his audience. For the lifelong horror fan, that journey began by taking a long hard look at the history of terror in the world around him.

“Like everybody in this country, I think we’re experiencing some sort of terror for the past few years,” Little Marvin said as we connected via Zoom, “and it got me thinking a lot about my own experiences with terror but also a terror that stretches back to the dawn of this country and particularly the terror of navigating this country in black skin. I wanted to explore that but also explore that within a tale of the American dream.”

What the show’s creator could not anticipate is how well the idea would be received, nor the brilliantly talented people he would find himself working with when the project was picked up by Amazon.

“When I finished writing the pilot, I wrote a note to myself in my book,” he said. “I wrote ‘Executive Producer Lena Waithe.’ Cut to a year later, Miri Yoon who is an executive producer. She asked who I would like to bring on as an executive producer and so I asked, almost as a dare, for Lena Waithe, like just to see what she would do about it. She was like, hold please, and then three days later, she says, ‘You have brunch with Lena on Saturday.’ I sat down with Lena and within seconds it was just clear she’s a champion of new storytellers. She’s a champion of black filmmakers.”

Those little things lined up again and again for the writer as the series went into production. When he was writing the pilot, he listened to the music of Bernard Herrmann and other classic film composers, but he especially loved writing to the score of The Witch composed by Mark Korven. So, when the series went into production, no one was more surprised than Little Marvin when Korven was brought in to score the series.

Korven created a score that is creepy and compelling and fits well with the somewhat unexpected and incongruous song choices for the film.

“We all set out to make a show about the 50s that felt like it was shot in the 70s,” Marvin explained. “This allowed us a lot of leeway to play as far as the soundtrack and with the score. No offense to people making music in 1953, but that music sucked. It was the worst. The minute that we knew that we could actually have some fun here, it felt funky. That means we can have Isaac Hayes. Let’s throw in some Nina Simone. Let’s throw in some Roberta Flack. We just had fun with it. I think our soundtrack is pretty jamming.”

Marvin’s third blessing, and the one we all get to experience firsthand, came in the casting room where casting directors Junie Lowry-Johnson and Libby Goldstein managed to create a cast that the he could not believe.

“It was funny because we would see lots of folks and then they would sort of slip in a video like just check this out as if it was nothing,” he said laughing. “And it turns out it’d be Allison Pill, or it’s Deborah Ayorinde. I was like, oh my god.”

Pill and Ayorinde face off quite a bit in THEM, but they’re just the tip of this casting dream team. The two star opposite Ashley Thomas (The Night of), Shahadi Wright Joseph (Us), Melody Hurd (Trick), Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), Liam McIntyre (Spartacus), and Abbie Cobb (Who the F is Mike Young) to name just a few.

As the premiere date for THEM, Little Marvin was able to give us just a glimpse or an idea of what will come next for the series.

“The one thing about the show that I’m super excited about is that every season will be different people and a different time period,” he said. “The thing that remains the same is that folks that have been historically marginalized or shut out from these kinds of narratives are going to be front and center in their own tales of American Terror. That will be true every season.”

THEM will premiere on Amazon on April 9, 2021. Check out the latest trailer below!

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