Brannon Braga and Shane West
Brannon Braga and Shane West

Last week we got a chance to attend WonderCon in Anaheim, and I got to sit down with Brannon Braga and Shane West from WGN America’s new original programming show Salem. Braga talked to us a little bit about Salem and the inspiration behind the show as well as some talk about his previous show FlashForward. West talked to us about his character John Alden, and his role in the story, as well as his role as Michael in Nikita. Sorry about the terrible pictures, it was my first time in a press conference room and I was star struck for a few long minutes before I was able to get my self together.

Brannon Braga is known for his work on Star Trek, Terra NovaFlashForward, and the new reboot of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey. He is the co-creator of Salem.

On Brannon Braga’s inspiration for the supernatural elements in Salem:

It’s [just] witches. We wanted to ground the show. Make our witchcraft more David Lynch than Harry Potter. Kind of, organic, and rooted in traditions of body horror and nature horror like David Cronenberg. So there aren’t any werewolves running around or anything like that.

On how dark the show can get, in relation to the witch trials in history:

Oh yeah, I mean, we get into issues of torture, for sure. We’re about to start shooting episode 10, which will deal heavily with torture set piece that will be very disturbing, and challenge the motions of how far you would go to find a terrorist? There are some themes that are still resonant from that time.

On FlashForward and TV shows being cancelled too soon:

Look, I don’t run a network, but I can only tell you having created a couple of shows that got yanked prematurely, that I would say yeah, a resounding yeah. It seems to me that most people are looking for an ‘out-of-the-box’ hit and if you’re not successful right away, forget about it.I did a show called ‘FlashForward’, that I thought should have been picked up. And it wasn’t. I still think it should have been. I think that show, given time, would have run for ten years. There are billions of stories to be told. Literally. So, I’m bitter.

On a Kickstarter for FlashForward:

Well what’s great about that show though is that you don’t need any of the actors. You could just set the story with other people. Maybe, who knows?

On shows like Heroes making a comeback, and how long can you hold onto an idea:

I just don’t think it’s viable. I’m only now thinking to myself, well maybe there’s something there. But I don’t have time; someone else can do it.


Shane West is known for his work on A Walk to Remember, The League of Extraordinary GentlementER, and most recently, Nikita. He plays John Alden in Salem.

Shane West, on the clues to track down a witch:

There are objects that are found that could project famine, there are objects that are found that could project things that happened in other worlds, there are witches that are found in the forest that are some creepy old witches with no eyes. There are little things that stand out that we have to find out.

On John Alden and Cotton Mather’s relationship with each other:

He has a lot of the same issues that Cotton Mather has, even though they are completely opposites. You find that, believe it or not, they do have to team together at times to try and discover who these witches are, and it’s not a quick process.

On going from Nikita‘s Michael to Salem‘s John Alden so quickly:

Yeah, they’re similar in how stoic both characters can be, but John’s a little bit more stubborn and brash; he doesn’t have a Nikita to balance off of. He’s a little bit more of a wild card and a wild man. It’s polar opposites, going from the modern world of 2014 or beyond of a million different fighting techniques and weaponry, to go back to reloading a blunderbuss (which is almost impossible to do).So I’ve made John more a knife guy, because the gun is getting in the way. So, I’ll just slit a throat, just give me the knife. So, it’s definitely been different, but the sets that we built for Salem, the actual towns that we built are so so rich and vibrant that, besides The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I’ve never been apart of another project where you put on the costume, you put on the wig, you go onto set, and you’re absolutely transported into that world. It’s exciting to go to work every day.

From Left to Right: Brannon Braga, Shane West, Adam Simon
From Left to Right: Brannon Braga, Shane West, Adam Simon (My eternal struggle with technology)

Watch Salem, Sundays on WGN America!

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