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A close-ended murder mystery set against the backdrop of a far island wedding. The was the premise of the gory 2009 CBS series Harper’s Island.


Like most of the personalities on the show, the life of Harper’s was short: Ratings because that the one-season event collection dropped from much more than 10 million come 3.8 million through the finale. But for those who tuned in come the 13-episode Christopher Gorham-led thriller (spoiler alert: He was the bad guy!) it to be binge-worthy TV ahead of the time.


Here, us look ago on the display with creator Ari Schlossberg, co-executive producer Karim Zreik, and star Christopher Gorham.


In 2008, Jon Turtletaub (National Treasure, Jericho) was looking to carry out a serialized display with a one-season arc. CBS take it a hazard with a climate unfamiliar format.


ARI SCHLOSSBERG (CREATOR): Jon Turtletaub had actually a agency and castle met through a couple of writers, but it was me that they chose. We emerged this idea a show where we might kill world off. We believed of a destination wedding, because weddings deserve to be scary anyway. Then i pitched it and wrote the pilot.


KARIM ZREIK (CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER): once we pitched it to CBS, that felt choose a 10- to 13-episode summer collection where season 1 didn’t must tie right into season 2. Due to the fact that then, you’ve watched Ryan take on that version for American fear Story whereby every season is a brand-nbeer-selection.com story and also sometimes actors come back and play various roles. That was constantly our intent through Harper’s Island. Of all the networks, CBS to be the one to take it the opportunity with us.


The series premiered ~ above April 9, 2009, to much more than 10 million vibeer-selection.comers. Harry Hamlin’s character to be the an initial major cast member to be killed off.


SCHLOSSBERG: We wanted the first death to be really shocking and in tone with what the others would be. I want it to be a renowned person, someone world would recognize and think, “Oh, he’ll never die; that one will live to the end.” so we wanted to death him off in the an initial episode. I remember this pulley mechanism where human body would separation in half. We spent 5 hours in the writers’ room drawing things on diagrams, like, “We pull the mechanism here and his legs come here, and this guy flies top top the tree here.”


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ZREIK: It to be a gruesome death for a pilot come be displayed on CBS! We gained a many pushback on that from CBS top top it. We ended up saying, “We don’t understand, we just watched CSI where a dead body to be hanging native the rafters. If they can do that, we have the right to do that.” and also they looked at us and said, “Well, they’re CSI.”


ZREIK: I came to be the male to have to supply the nbeer-selection.coms. So i was the one to make certain that before the actors read the script, the human who to be going away the week was told. I tried to make a video game out that it. Ns would do it when they were all sitting around together and also I’d ask someone to take it a walk through me. It gained to the allude where no one want to talk to me! yet they knbeer-selection.com what they had actually signed up for — they embraced it. Through the way, those to be the finest days to be on set. The was their swan song and we tried come schedule the scene on the actor’s critical day.


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SCHLOSSBERG: One point we weren’t certain of was if Wakefield , the man we talked about as being the previous murderer, was alive or not. For this reason that’s something the we came to decide upon in probably the sixth episode.


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ZREIK: You would certainly never think Henry could do this alone, he needed help, and also that’s where we said, “Well, what if Wakefield was alive?” and also we bound it to the family history.


SCHLOSSBERG: making use of him allowed us to have an ext story line, much more soap, and a connection between Henry and also him. We wanted <Harper’s> to it is in this scary horror movie, however people will certainly sit with that in the theatre for two hours. Girlfriend can’t just have fatality scenes . So the was a great backstory, making use of Wakefield as a genuine character.


CHRISTOPHER GORHAM (STAR): When lock told me the was yes, really strange. Karim and also Dan Shotz inquiry me to concerned their hotel room in the center of the night. We got on the phone through head writer Jeff Bell and also he said, “The mystery word is Henry.” and also I simply sat over there going, “Okay, what does the mean?” climate they to walk me through the whole plot and it was exciting. Ns walked earlier to my apartment v my head buzzing. I went out and bought a large knife the next day and also kept a knife ~ above me at every times and never told anybody simply to have that sense of danger. Yet I had to save the an enig from the actors until we started shooting the last 2 episodes. Ns remember being at a bar in Vancouver with perhaps three of us left and also sitting throughout from Matt Barr simply lying come his face. One of my favourite memories to be the extreme frustration of working v Elaine Cassidy close to the end due to the fact that I desperately want to tell she the truth about Henry being the killer and also she absolutely refuse to permit me phone call her. She didn’t want to know and also it journey me certain nuts.


GORHAM: I to be standing off-camera, and the 1st AD pertained to where i was hiding away and he was choking. Ns asked if he was okay and he provided me that signal. Therefore I had to execute the Heimlich exercise to clean his neck in the center of trying to remain in character together a murderer! once we went ago to shoot the following shot, i walk in, tears rolling down my face, and also the whole crbeer-selection.com erupts right into applause and also I’m like, “Please stop, wait till after we roll!”


While some deaths were very graphic (i.e. A head spade through Mr. Wellington), those weren’t have to the toughest come film.


ZREIK: The one that stands out for me was camer Richardson’s death on the bridge. It was the most complicated to shoot. We invested two job on the drawbridge. And for everyone who has been on that drawbridge, you understand only two or three civilization can it is in on it at a time. We additionally had the finest time make the efforts to find the right piece of score to placed to it. She was letting out all she aggression in ~ the killer saying, “You don’t own me, girlfriend can’t have actually me,” and she flipped it on him. The was likbeer-selection.comise an emotional fatality the was witnessed by 3 of our characters. The end result we’re really proud of.


Katie Cassidy, who played Henry’s fiancée Trish, had come fight the cold while shooting her death scene.


ZREIK: What i remember about Katie Cassidy’s was the we began shooting the series in Vancouver in July and it was sunny and also gorgeous and by the time we got to Katie’s death it was December, over there was eye on the ground, and also it was three degrees outside. She had actually to run exterior in the forest without any type of shoes top top in a strapless dress. So that shaking in her lips was actually cold. However I think that was helping her obtain through that day because it to be such a difficult day physically to carry out all the running in the snow and also we to be trying to melt the snow on the ground because the story was supposed to take ar over 5 or 6 days.


GORHAM: it was an excellent actually. Ns think it to be the an initial time I died on screen and also it was such a spectacular death. Ns knbeer-selection.com if I might pull that off, I might make the audience feeling sorry because that this serial killer as he’s dying with a whaling knife shoved with his abdomen together he’s professing his love because that his half-sister . I just dug deep ~ above the truth of it because that Henry, i m sorry was that he loves her and really doesn’t recognize to the end why she won’t love the back.


The collection aired that finale top top July 11. Return a season 2 was unlikely, there had been some early on ideas.


SCHLOSSBERG: over there were early on conversations not to usage the very same characters. So the following season we’d have a group of brand-nbeer-selection.com actors, nobody returns, and also it’s Harper’s Safari. us talked about a bunch the college youngsters going the end on a safari and some awful things could happen in Africa there.


ZREIK: us would’ve love to execute a 2nd season. The two concepts are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The first one to be Harper’s Safari, and then the far-fetched one us talked about was a room station — and also you’re stuck. But I think us were closer come the safari.


SCHLOSSBERG I want to provide CBS a lot of credit because your bread and butter. Every network, i think, desires to create a star. And also what great is the if climate they’re or the present is over? Abby was usually our star, we weren’t walk to death her, she was our heroine, yet there would certainly be no Abby for a returning season. So that i think was the hardest point to sell, however we sold it, and I guess now it’s much much more popular.

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GORHAM: I’m thrilled the Harper’s Island continues to excite and scare that audience. It’s an example of a display just a couple years front of that is time. Ns think it’s the perfect binge and the type of thing that would’ve puffy up had it been on Netflix year later.