Cathal Pendred Joins Amazon’s Macabre and Mysterious ‘Lore’

Into the Badlands and Ray Donovan actor, Cathal Pendred cast as Michael Cleary in Amazon's Lore.

Into the Badlands and Ray Donovan actor, Cathal Pendred cast as Michael Cleary in Amazon’s Lore.

Since summer is upon us, it’s about time we appreciate the real MVP of summertime childhood experience: the campfire story. Few things beat a good “based on a true story” tale and the smell of cinders and pine. Amazon clearly understands this fact as according to Deadline, the series Lore found it’s lead in former UFC fighter turned–actor Cathal Pendred. Pendred will play Michael Cleary. Cleary is a man who believes his wife is a changeling.

Lore is based on the podcast of the same name. Upon the podcast’s initial release it earned over 3.2 million listeners. It makes sense that Lore rose to such prominence as it is a podcast obsessed with the macabre and mysterious. The human fascination with true tales and things that go bump in the night is an undeniable draw. (Have you seen the History Channel recently? It’s all big foot hunting and Ancient Aliens.) Tall tales are useful as a cipher for the human experience. Mahnke, the creator of Lore, recognized the power of a good twisted tale. Mahnke stated in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that in studying these fantastical fringe experiences within history, he’s also “studying people, and why in the world we share those stories.”

The story of Michael Cleary is the perfect way to introduce viewers to the uncanny subject matter of Lore. The real life Michael Cleary set his wife on fire because he thought a fairy changeling had replaced her. A fact which Cleary was unwilling to concede as unlikely during his subsequent murder trial. Cleary remained convinced that the woman he tortured and set fire to was not his wife. The trial and death, which took place in the late 1890s, became a media frenzy and the tale itself has lived on as folklore. Lore is a podcast like that in that it skirts the line between plausible history lesson (a man would kill his wife in a cruel way) and implausible campfire story (a woman replaced by fairies). Dark, twisted, fantastical fairytales are the best kind of stories, and Mahnke knows just how to tell them.

Lore is a type of podcast that feels like an intimate campfire tale because Mahnke delivers each episode’s content alone. No co-host. No mechanical sound effects. No frills. Just a man, a microphone, and a story. The intimacy of the experience is compelling because its content demands this type of delivery. Legends and tall tales don’t need jazzy deliveries; they need what they’ve always needed: one telling others a story to explain the unexplainable. Telling stories like you are sitting by a campfire is more truly and undeniably primal than going Paleo for bikini season.

As our own Paola Mardo observed, the transmedia landscape created by adapting podcasts is rich with possibility. Podcasts are by their nature slightly more intimate. We listen on headphones on trains, at the gym, or through speakers in cars as stories are told for our enjoyment regarding a variety of specified and particular interests. Podcasts are hot adaptation commodities these days which makes sense given their widespread popularity and the potato chip like voracity they inspire in listeners. (I spent more time debating the existence of a payphone in a Best Buy parking lot on Reddit than I would care to admit.) Lore isn’t the only podcast getting the television treatment, and it won’t be the last. The real challenge of Lore will be distilling the campfire experience into a water cooler conversation starter. In the end, though Lore will be adapted into a television show, the lasting impact of it will be measured by its ability to devolve back into one on one communication between people. Shared experience is the great synthesizer of human storytelling.

The television adaptation of the show will be an Amazon Original 10-part miniseries exclusive to Amazon’s streaming services produced by Propagate Content and Valhalla Entertainment. Writer Aaron Mahnke is the creator and host of Lore and will serve as an executive producer. Mahnke will executive produce alongside Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead), Ben Silverman (The Office), Howard T. Owens (The Biggest Loser), and Brett-Patrick Jenkins (Face Off). Phillip Kobylanski will supervise for Valhalla with Glen Morgan (X-Files) attached as showrunner. No word yet on an airdate for Lore. However, those wishing to get acquainted with the Lore podcast and it’s subject matter can listen here.

Speaking of podcasts, One Perfect Pod is also available for your listening pleasure.

Francesca Fau: Writer and law student.