After all, the fictional version of Fauna experiences some massive changes in merely the first chapter of Night. In one day, the Nevada-living teen learns she was adopted by her alcoholic mother, Jimmy Lee (Girlfriends alum Golden Brooks), by shady means, her name is a lie (it’s Fauna Hodel, rather than “Pat”), and her biological family is a group of wealthy white socialites from Los Angeles. Soon enough, Fauna is leaving her small town behind for the spooky streets of L.A., where her menacing grandfather George Hodel (Jefferson Mays), his mysterious wife Corinna (Connie Nielsen), and an extremely dark familial history lie in wait. Somehow, as the inclusion of Chris Pine’s frenzied journalist Jay Singletary suggests, the infamous Black Dahlia murder case is involved.
That’s a lot of plot for a single hour of television. Fortunately, India Eisley is here to make sense of this deeply murky story.
“That creepy phone call is really what sets the ball rolling in the dark direction of what Fauna actually comes from and the severity of where she comes from,” Eisley tells Refinery29 over the phone. The integral call appears in the final seconds of the pilot, when Fauna calls the Hodels to inform them she has finally arrived in the so-called City Of Angels. George is the one who invited Fauna to L.A. in the first place after she learned of her true heritage. But, he’s nowhere to be found, and his wife Corinna, who sounds suspiciously strung-out, tells Fauna her grandfather is “a very, very dangerous man.” She cautions Fauna to stay “far, far away” from George, who is a successful Hollywood doctor.
Corinna seems to be right about George, since the premiere closes by showing him at a swinging L.A. bacchanal, purposefully dodging Fauna’s calls. The haunting “Pilot” reveal confirms the unknown man Fauna spoke to earlier in the episode at a random desert rest stop was George. It is suggested George was following his unaware granddaughter during her travels from Nevada to Los Angeles.
Does that mean Corinna, with her solid advice, is in fact more friend than foe for Fauna? “Hm,” Eisley says, turning the question over in her mind for a few beats. “I would say she is probably half and half.” Nevertheless, the actress teases of future episodes, “Fauna doesn’t get on with her — at all.”
While Fauna and Corinna may not “get on” throughout I Am The Night, it’s George the teen should truly fear. Although Eisley was reluctant to reveal the exact ways the Hodel family ties into the still-unsolved Black Dahlia murder case of 1947 — “I don’t know how to answer without spoiling it!” she admits — there are some very basic details floating around the internet. Namely, that the real-life George Hodel was suspected of the grisly killing for a time in the late '40s. I Am The Night will reveal the more disturbing secrets of the case, and how it connects to Fauna, over its eight-episode run.
All Eisley could say about the upcoming horrifying conclusion is, “Going through what Fauna went through at any age would be enough to drive someone completely batty. I know that I would be completely bonkers if I was in that situation.” Remember, Fauna is just 16 years old during the events of I Am the Night.
Although Eisley has to stay fairly tight-lipped about the imminent twists and turns of her series, the new TNT star could gush about working with Chris Pine. The Wonder Woman hunk plays Jay, a journalist whose once-promising career was ruined by investigating George’s possible involvement in the Black Dahlia murder. Eventually, Jay and Fauna's stories collide. From Pine’s first minute on screen, he is giving his most intense, wacky performance yet. Viewers might be surprised to see Pine veer so close to comedy in a drama this intense, but Eisley isn’t.
“There’s much more to Chris than people realize. Because on the surface everyone’s like, ‘Oh my God, so much charisma. Oh my God such a movie star,’” Eisley jokes, noting her co-star also has a bit of a prankster side. Apparently, the actress is a “terrible giggler” who suffers from “an unstoppable rebel force of laughter” once she breaks. This weakness is something Pine immediately latched onto.
“He caught onto this really quickly. It was a bit cruel,” she says with a laugh. “He constantly tried to make me laugh in the worst possible times.”
In a world as terrifying as I Am The Night, laughter might just be the best medicine.