‘The Strain': Guillermo del Toro addresses billboard controversy at premiere

July 11, 2014 | 12:14 p.m.
FX received complains about its billboard advertising for "The Strain," featuring a worm wiggling out of an eyeball. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

FX received complaints about its billboard advertising for “The Strain,” featuring a worm wiggling out of an eyeball. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

Several drivers and pedestrians have complained for weeks about billboards around Los Angeles promoting FX’s new horror drama “The Strain,” which feature a nasty-looking worm crawling out of an eyeball.

Guillermo del Toro, the key creative force behind the series,  wants to know what the big deal is.

“It’s just a … worm coming out of an eyeball,”  he said with mischievous glee as he hosted the premiere of “The Strain” Thursday at the Directors Guild of America. The Oscar-nominated director (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), who directed the pilot,  was obviously in an upbeat mood as he introduced the episode, which he hoped would terrify viewers.

The billboards certainly have unnerved many who have passed by, prompting FX to remove some of them. At the premiere, John Landgraf, head of FX Networks, pointed to the image on the screen during his opening remarks and quipped, “Apparently we’ve upset some children.”

“The Strain,” which will launch Sunday, is adapted from a New York-set trilogy of books Del Toro wrote with crime author Chuck Hogan. The premise revolves around an apocalypse brought on by vampires and monsters.

PHOTOS: Hollywood Backlot on the set of ‘The Strain’

The story centers on a father and son. Corey Stoll plays Centers for Disease Control specialist Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, a canny scientist more skilled at his career than at parenting his 10-year-old, Zach (Ben Hyland) — the pair previously played father and son on Netflix’s political drama “House of Cards,” which featured Stoll as troubled Pennsylvania Sen. Peter Russo.

“I think my whole life I’ve been cast as people who were either the good guy who isn’t quite all good or the bad guy who isn’t entirely evil,” said Stoll in an interview with Hero Complex on the Toronto set of the series earlier this year.

“The thing I wanted to do in ‘The Strain,’ you can actually see this world collapse in a week,” Del Toro said in an interview with Hero Complex in March. “If the circumstances are right, the world could collapse in a week. If we lose all our digital and all our electronics and the right acts of terror occur, the world could collapse very fast.”

The show’s cast, including Stoll, Sean Astin and Mia Maestro, attended the premiere, which was followed by an after-party at Hyde on the Sunset Strip.

– Greg Braxton and Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex

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