Josh Hartnett is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable actors, appearing in such hits as Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, and Sin City. His latest project is Penny Dreadful, premiering Sunday, May 11 on SHOWTIME (Ch. 545)

Talk about the story line of the show. What is Penny Dreadful about?

Penny Dreadful is set in London, in 1891. It’s kind of an ensemble cast of classic horror along with new spins on classic horror characters. All living in the same place at the same time, and coming in contact in various ways.

Tell me the name of your character.

I play Ethan Chandler. He’s the only American in the core group of characters. You’re not quite sure what he’s doing, or why he’s sticking around with everybody. At the beginning, he is a sharp shooter in a Wild West show. As the series progresses he becomes more embroiled in the world of this Penny Dreadful. More things are revealed about him over the course of the season. I am sure more things will be revealed to me over the course of the season. John likes to keep things close to the vest, so I had to trust John as a writer.

Who is John?

John Logan is the writer and executive-producer-slash-creator of Penny Dreadful. I met with John about two months before we started shooting. He was telling me what he wanted the world to feel like, and what he thought was important about this show. A lot of the characters you would know from late-1800’s literature and early-to-mid-20th-century horror films.

Why do you think audiences will love the show?

People will have a connection to the characters that’s incredibly dramatic. This connection will remind them of a show that’s more in the vein of the dramas that are on TV these days, and less in the vein of genre shows. I think that this is a real chance to elevate a genre that could be easily put in the box of a horror show. It’s got a lot of scary elements and suspense, but viewers will tune in for great craftspeople doing their work.

Why did you decide to do this show?

I was drawn to the script initially because of John Logan, as well as the involvement of both Sam Mendes and Juan Bayona. The pedigree of the show is at such a high level that it was something I had to take seriously. I haven’t done TV in a long, long time. I met with David Nevins and the guys at SHOWTIME and they felt like people that I could really relate to, over a long period of time.

Penny Dreadful premieres Sunday, May 11 at 10/9c on SHOWTIME (Ch. 545).