Nathan Lane Says 'City of Angels' Is 'More Psychological' Than 'Penny Dreadful'

Penny Dreadful City of Angels Nathan Lane Preview
Q&A
Justin Lubin/SHOWTIME

Don't call this a horror show.

"The original Penny Dreadful was poetic in its blood and gore. This is more psychological, sort of Raymond Chandler meets Rod Serling," says Nathan Lane of the stylish drama, City of Angels. He stars as Lewis Michener, a veteran police detective in late-1930s Los Angeles, where a demonic shape-shifter named Magda (Natalie Dormer, Game of Thrones) tries to bring out the worst in humans to prove to her sister, Santa Muerte (Lorenza Izzo), Mexican folklore's Angel of Death, that humans aren't worth saving.

Roush Review: Atmospheric 'Penny Dreadful' Tackles Los Angeles NoirSee Also

Roush Review: Atmospheric 'Penny Dreadful' Tackles Los Angeles Noir

Showtime's 'City of Angels' spinoff has a 'Chinatown' vibe in its sprawling story of murder, ethnic conflict and corruption in 1930s L.A..

The three-time Tony winner tells us more.

Had you ever played a detective before?

Nathan Lane: I did! In an ill-fated [1989 off-Broadway] musical with the unusual title In a Pig's Valise. That was a film noir spoof. This story that John Logan has created will feel very resonant in today's world. He's dealing with the persecution of the Mexican community and the rise of Nazis, all told through the historical perspective of how L.A. was built.

Penny Dreadful City of Angels Natalie Dormer Daniel Zovatto Nathan Lane

(Jim Fiscus/SHOWTIME)

Where do Michener and his young partner, Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto), come in?

They're investigating a Chinatown-esque murder mystery. A wealthy Beverly Hills family is murdered and painted with Day of the Dead makeup, leading people to [suspect] Mexicans. But things are far more complicated than they appear.…

Vega faces intense racism as the first Mexican-American detective on the force, and Magda has his family in her sights. What are Michener's issues?

Lewis is estranged from his children, and he sees in Tiago a chance to get it right. Michener becomes his mentor; being Jewish, he understands what it is to be an outsider. They form a bond that is unbreakable. At least for now. This was, by far, the most interesting and emotionally complex character I have ever played on television.

Watch by Decade! 7 Shows Traveling Back in Time This Spring (PHOTOS)See Also

Watch by Decade! 7 Shows Traveling Back in Time This Spring (PHOTOS)

Take a TV trip back to the booming '50s, the radical '70s, and more in 'Fargo,' 'Mrs. America' and other new series.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, Series Premiere, Sunday, April 26, 10/9c, Showtime