“Tell Me A Story” is a fairy tale set in the Trump era where classics like “The Three Little Pigs” and political protests collide on the streets of New York City.
“What I love about this show is everyone’s stories are connected in the most bizarre ways,” says actress Danielle Campbell, after taking cover one rainy afternoon. “I’m so sorry,” she pauses the telephone call, “I was just rushing across the street in the Meatpacking District where there’s so much construction and I stepped in one of the most random potholes.”
Campbell, who starred in “The Originals,” plays Kayla Powell, a character who alludes to the Brothers Grimm “Little Red Riding Hood,” though the only in-your-face connection is a vague mention of a red cloak.
CBS All Access’ “Tell Me A Story” plays out numerous storylines loosely mirroring these Grimm models and more, like “Hansel and Gretel.” A young woman is threatened by powerful male forces around her; a trio of corrupt thieves slip on pig masks and shoot up a bank at a Trump rally; estranged siblings attempt to cover up a gruesome murder.
“What’s cool about the way that we’re telling these stories is that the three little pigs or riding hood and Hansel and Gretel, they’re all characters in our story really living in New York, where all these storylines are happening simultaneously,” Campbell, 23, explains.
Below, the actress discusses the series’ fairy tale references and more. The premiere season of “Tell Me A Story” is available for streaming on CBS All Access.
How does the current political and cultural experience help shape the stories we’re seeing?
I think what’s special about it is people have opinions that are being explored very, very intensely right now and it’s something that’s waking up America. The show brings to light these intense topics that certain people struggle to speak on. I think it’s helping, by telling a story and letting people get lost within it. It’s giving people time to think afterward on topics that are not just about characters, so then they can relate to it.
“Little Red Riding Hood” is intertwined in your character’s story, but Kayla isn’t the helpless young woman we find in the fairy tale. How does she blur the lines between that wide-eyed Little Red and the “Big Bad Wolf”?
That’s what makes the story so much fun, I think because the Little Red we grow up with is the story you just described. She’s a lot more innocent, helpless. I think the way we depict not only Little Red but also the wolves in our story is not completely obvious. There are moments where you’re seeing different people act as the wolves. Like, in the first episode, she’s the one attacking everyone and she is that character. She just lost her mother and just moved across the country to live with her grandmother. She’s still trying to figure out why the world keeps turning on her, so she’s blaming everyone and looks for a distraction pretty much anywhere she can. Another thing I think will be fun for people to watch is because every time they think they know what’s going to happen based off their previous knowledge of the stories, we have a different twist in a different story to tell.
These classic stories have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Will we get that fairy tale ending here?
You cannot guess the ending of these stories. It follows a very similar story where you think you’re understanding what’s happening with these characters, but at the same time, they’re much darker. When I was doing research for the character, the stories I read were much darker than the ones I grew up with as a kid … I think that’s what makes “Tell Me A Story” so much fun to watch because you get to feel that dark and sexy energy from it.
Kim Cattrall has an interesting role in this twisted tale, as your grandmother.
Yeah, she’s amazing. She’s been a lot of fun to work of off and I’ve been lucky enough to have most of my scenes with her. She’s been a lot of fun and she’s got it. I mean, she’s really a fascinating woman and I’ve always hoped that we’d be shooting outside at one point so I can hail a cab with her.