Carlton Cuse to Make Directorial Debut With 'The Strain' Season Finale

The prolific producer talks with THR about getting the itch to direct and pushing himself creatively.
AP Images/Invision
Carlton Cuse, right, and Guillermo del Toro

One of the most prolific producers in town is about get a little busier.

After more than a quarter century of writing, producing and even briefly starring in projects, Carlton Cuse is finally taking a seat in the director’s chair. The Bates Motel and Colony producer told THR at the recently concluded Television Critics Association summer press tour that he directed the upcoming season three of his FX drama The Strain, adding yet another notch to his already impressive résumé.

“I felt like it was time to finally have that experience, and The Strain was the perfect environment,” Cuse said. “It’s a really challenging episode. I can’t say too much about it, but there’s some stuff that goes on that was so cool that I was just like, ‘I have to direct that.’ ”

The producer revealed he’d never had the itch to direct before, because as a showrunner he’s always been able to make enough creative decisions to fulfill him artistically. But recently, with so many shows under his belt, he began to believe it was an important experience for him to have.

“It was just this impulse that finally struck me and it was a real learning experience, despite having sat at the right hand of directors for more than 400 hours of television,” he said. “I felt like I had a different respect [for directors]; I learned a lot. That will help me going forward in my relationship and prepping other directors, as well as just my general knowledge of being a filmmaker.”

In addition to showrunning duties on FX’s The Strain, Cuse is currently working on a second season of Colony for USA Network and the fifth and final season of Bates Motel over at A&E. Toronto-shot The Strain, which is based on the novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, debuts Sunday, Aug. 28 with 10 new episodes. J. Miles Dale (Shadowhunters: The Moral Instruments) directed the first two installments, which means viewers have a while yet until Cuse’s episode premieres.

“[Directing the finale] was a huge deal, but you should always be pushing yourself out to a place where you feel just a little bit nervous about doing something. Out of that comes good work; things that are really meaningful. So that’s what I try to do,” he said. "The process of what I do is always about learning and trying to get better and improving my craft. That was part of the journey for me, was to actually direct."

In terms of on-set learning, Cuse has certainly surrounded himself with a talented bunch. That includes Strain co-producer del Toro, whom Cuse tells THR was “super supportive,” Banshee’s Greg Yaitanes, and his longtime friend Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad), who warned him to “get used to standing” when he got on set. It all culminated in an experience that Cuse is looking forward to repeating in the near future – perhaps even on Bates Motel or Colony.

“I do have the itch to direct again. It’s not something that I think will overtake my life, I don’t feel like suddenly I just want to be a director,” he said. “But being able to have it in my repertoire is something that I really [wanted]. I definitely plan to do it going forward.”

The Strain season three debuts Sunday, Aug. 28 on FX.

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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