Filming Back-To-Back Seasons Was A Unique Opportunity For The Cast Of Locke & Key

Based on an acclaimed and beloved comic book series, and following a decade of failed adaptations, Netflix's "Locke & Key" always had impossibly high expectations to meet. The comic, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, mixes Stephen King with Lovecraft, resulting in a scary, bizarre, magical, emotional coming-of-age story. 

It follows the Locke children, who move back to their ancestral home after their father's murder and find a set of magical keys that give special abilities like turning into a ghost or becoming super strong. Things aren't just fun and games, though; the Lockes also accidentally unleash an ancient demon hellbent on destroying their family, who will stop at nothing to acquire the keys.

From the beginning, the biggest sin the Netflix adaptation committed was drastically changing the tone of the story from more horror-centric to a whimsical fantasy. The show became less Lovecraft or Stephen King and more "Harry Potter," meaning darker elements of the story are downplayed, horrific deaths are sort of swept under the rug, and instead we spend more time with the characters just hanging out in between attacks. 

But one thing Netflix's take on "Locke & Key" absolutely nailed was the casting, with the actors for the Locke family, especially the kids — Connor Jessup, Emilia Jones and Jackson Robert Scott — embodying the characters. This became especially true in the last two seasons, where the characters feel like they just stepped out of the comic. After the first season of "Locke & Key" adapted roughly half of the comic rather faithfully, the show quickly started mixing the source material with original ideas. There are new villains, new keys, new allies, new horrors and tears. And because seasons 2 and 3 were shot back to back, the actors were given a unique opportunity to fully embody their characters.

'It's like a second skin'

Speaking to Collider, Jessup compared the experience of playing Joe Locke in season 1 to "buy[ing] a new pair of jeans and it barely fits and like it's not quite right," whereas the back-to-back experience of seasons 2 and 3 was like wearing those same jeans after they'd been worn in:

"By the end of season 3, especially, I felt like this character is just lived in. I felt like I understood him more intuitively. In season 1, there was so much thought in every episode and every scene about, 'Where is he now? What's he thinking about? What's he worrying about? Where's he coming from? Why is he saying this?' That was really present. In season 2 and even more in season 3, a lot of that just felt more natural. It was just there and it was clear, and it didn't require a whole bunch of digging to find it."

Stanchfield agrees that shooting back to back made it easier to slip into the shoes of the characters "like a second skin" in the final season: 

"To get to create with people that I enjoy, both personally and professionally, I feel like you can go deeper, in a way. Nina Locke's heart, for me, is not just something that I put on, but I found it through these people. That's what made it special for me."

The last season takes the characters to places beyond what the comic imagines, and the actors make it seem effortless, like they've been playing them for 10 years rather than only a handful. 

"Locke & Key" is streaming on Netflix.