A Series of Unfortunate Events is about just what its title suggests, with a tale of doom and gloom at its heart (if it even has one).
It revolves around the lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire after their parents die in a fire that blazed through the Baudelaire Mansion. The tragic incident leaves them in the very incapable hands of their relative, Count Olaf, who rather than helping them through their grieving process, plots to steal their bountiful inheritance.
The series is based on 13 children’s books that were published between 1999 and 2006. They are written and narrated by Lemony Snicket (actually author Daniel Handler’s pen name). Season one consists of eight hour-long episodes, with each instalment covering half of one of the first four novels: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, and The Miserable Mill.
Before embarking on your Netflix binge when the series is released on Friday 13th January (how fitting), brush up on the cast and characters of this fantastical – and fearsome – world.
Neil Patrick Harris – Count Olaf
Count Olaf is wretched in looks and personality, sporting bushy brows and a permanent scowl. He’s determined to find a loophole to get his hands on Violet, Klaus, and Sunny’s inherited fortune – whatever it takes.
Moonlighting as a professional “actor”, Count Olaf appears in many guises, whether as salty sea dog Captain Sham the sailor, or ribald receptionist Shirley. Adults are blinded by his impersonations, but the children see right through him.
“Count Olaf is, quite honestly, just a horrible person. It’s called A Series of Unfortunate Events due in great part to him,” star Neil Patrick Harris says. “It’s interesting for me as an actor. You kind of want to choose a role and then have the good and the bad and figure out the inner conflict. Not so much with Count Olaf, and that’s fun for me.”
Where do I recognise him from?
Harris is the ultimate triple threat: he can sing, dance, and act – all talents that have been acknowledged by a stream of awards. He’s probably best known for his role as ladies’ man Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother. He also starred in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and took to the stage for theatre production Hedwig and the Angry Inch.