Is Jim Really Dead? The Strain’s Sean Astin Spills on Surprise Shooting
BY Jennifer Griffin
Published 7 years ago
Fans of FX’s The Strain are used to the show’s abrupt and often violent plot turns.
However the sudden shooting and apparent death of Sean Astin’s Jim Kent in last Sunday’s “Creatures of the Night” left many shocked, particularly when it looked like a ‘cure for Jim’ storyline may have been on the cards.
Jim, who was responsible for the spread of the vampire pathogen early on had finally managed to make amends with Eph (Cory Stoll) and Nora (Mia Maestro). Having undergone a radical procedure to remove a parasitic worm from his face, viewers may have imagined that Jim was finally in the clear. With the band finally back together, Jim’s subsequent sudden shooting at the hands of Kevin Durand’s Vasily Fet came from left field for many.
While some fans immediately began sending #RIPJim tweets Astin’s way, others wondered if his death might be a fake out. Could Fet have missed with those bullets? Could the vampire infection have made Jim resistant to the shooting? Notably, Setrakian did not take his head. And why weren’t viewers given a look at his corpse?
We were so curious we sat down this week to chat with Sean Astin about about working on The Strain, Jim’s fate and the filming of this standout episode.
“I’m pretty sure that Fet killed Jim properly,” laughs Astin.
And as for those fan theories on shooting rather than head-severing? “They’ve [Eph and Nora] gone outside and shot them a lot,” counters Astin, recalling numerous episodes where vampires have been dispatched with a few good shots to the head.
“I mean, Eph and Nora are each shooting guns and killing them and Nora says ‘He’s still coming!’ You’ve got to shoot them in the head. I don’t know how many times [Fet] pulled the trigger, but it felt like at least four or five at point blank range!
“I think Jim, I’m sorry to relate, is dead. I appreciate the mourning. I feel close to Jim. My favorite thing was people with the hash tag RIPJIM. I kind of wanted to get that blown up and put that on the office wall.”
Jim’s death may have come as a surprise to fans who are not familiar with the book series, but his death was no surprise to Astin. “I was told in my very first meeting with Guillermo and Carlton that this character from the books, who didn’t last that long in the books, wasn’t going to last very long in the series. They invited me to be a part of this show knowing full well that in episode eight my character is going to get killed off. So there is a little bit of the gallows anticipation that comes knowing we’re in episode five; it’s only a few episodes away now before I get to say good-bye to all my new friends.”
Astin talks about the challenges of shooting the infamous convenience store scene and his final moments in character. “Ironically the biggest challenge of it was how cold it was,” he reveals.
“Toronto suffered really the coldest winter in most of the crew members’ memory and it’s one thing to sit here in a 75º day in Los Angeles and talk about cold weather, but it was bitter cold. So you look outside at these vampires who were in their post mortem makeup and you just figured that it wasn’t too far off from where they’re going to be if they had to stand outside any longer.
“And then when you find yourself actually in the convenience store doing the work, there is an emotional responsibility that you have to the relationship between the characters. And so blocking the scene where Eph and Nora discover that he’s been fully infected, it was really kind of cool the first bit where they use the UV ray to see the worm in my face and they go and lay me down and do this sort of butcher surgery or field dressing surgery, that was all kind of cool and relatively straight forward, relatively easy.”
“But then when we got into blocking, Jim discovers that it’s all through my back and then I realize that the only thing to do is for them to kill me and I’m saying I don’t want to turn out like the rest of them and I don’t want go after my parents and asking Setrakian to basically explain that what is with these vampires is that they go to the ones closest to them. It was pretty powerful emotionally and everybody had this feeling that it was exciting to be doing maybe one of the first big deaths of the show. I guess there had been others, but for me it was the big death because it was me,” he laughs.
“It’s sort of shocking, but you know anything can happen on that show and that is a very heroic death. Jim’s redemption is kind of petty redemption. He’s—I think the first one to plug in the UV ray lights and is what I think is a kind of for me it’s iconic where I come out of the convenience store and I’m the first one to extend my arm with the thing and burn one of the vamps with this UV light; and then of course everybody does it because Jim did it. But that feeling is yes, I don’t know; it was cool. I was at Disneyland with my wife and kids. I had run a marathon, this Disney half marathon weekend, so we did a 10K on Tuesday and a half marathon.
So I’m walking around and my legs are sore and the kids are having a ball and I realized the episode is airing right now. I hadn’t really been paying any attention to my phone for three days, but we’re sitting on the train going through Fantasy Land and I’m looking at seeing all these messages saying ‘All right, Jim, we’re going to miss you buddy. It was a sad way for you to have to go, Jim!’ but we tried to have fun with it. What are you going to do?”
The Strain continues Sundays on FX at 10 pm ET/PT.