'Talking Terror' with Tobias Menzies and Jared Harris

Tobias Menzies as James Fitzjames, Jared Harris as Francis Crozier 
Tobias Menzies as James Fitzjames, Jared Harris as Francis Crozier  | © Nadav Kander/AMC

Editorial Manager

AMC’s new horror drama The Terror, an adaptation of a 2007 novel by Dan Simmons, depicts a failed Royal Navy exploration to the Northwest Passage. We spoke to two of the stars, Tobias Menzies and Jared Harris, to find out about the real horror that the men onboard the vessels face up to in the TV series.

‘The Terror’

The book is a fictionalised account of of Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror to the Arctic, in 1845–1848. Jared Harris, who spoke to Culture Trip last year whilst making the series, told us more about what he knew about the real-life background of the adventure before embarking on his own journey to star in it.

‘I knew nothing’, the Allied star explains. ‘That was the appeal. When you get a script nowadays it’s a remake or a reboot or a sequel or a prequel. Something like “Robin Hood! Again!”, but this was completely new material and a unique story. I loved the intelligence and restraint of the writing. There are stories and threads that develop over the entire series and it highlights the confidence they have in the audience too’, Harris added.

Menzies, who is best known for his dual roles in popular Starz series Outlander, is just as honest about what he knew, or didn’t know, in this case. ‘It isn’t that well known in the UK, even though it was a British naval expedition [that went wrong]. It is quite well known in Canada though. It’s taught in schools, but digging into it was very exciting. To a large extent, we don’t really know that much. There are some documents that were found and have recorded dates and deaths. We honour those, but the conversations and what happened, over years in this series, are largely unknown. We were keen to honour those people, but also add the genre element with a creature…’

In recent months, additional wreckage has been found. The timing is fortunate, but not deliberate. ‘It’s not like AMC were holding this back and suddenly announced “We found them!”,’ Menzies jokes.

Tobias Menzies as James Fitzjames – ‘The Terror’

Joining Harris and Menzies is Ciaran Hinds as Captain James Frankin. Although there are some strong horror elements throughout the series, the cast were all keen to speak about the historical drama side of the story too.

‘We keep the creature back. It’s a psychological thriller for the most part and unsettling, but not gore and shocks. It is not Walking Dead, but more a Victorian horror. There are some shocking moments in it, and we don’t turn away from it. The adage of “Don’t show the shark” really pays off,’ Menzies says, when asked about the tone of the series.

‘It starts off grim and doesn’t get better. It was bleak, but we have to portray a chance of them maybe getting out of the situation. That was the challenge. It’s a whole load of British actors, so we did have the fine tradition of gallows humour along the way’ Harris says.

The characters of Commander Fitzjames and Captain Crozier, played by Menzies and Harris respectively, were actually quite well known and documented before this particular voyage even began.

‘Crozier is based on a Northern Irishman, but from a time when the country was a single entity. The concept of Republicanism was only just coming in and taking shape,’ says Harris.

‘He would have certainly identified as British. He joined the service of The Crown at the age of 13, but later comes to the realisation that there is glass ceiling for someone like him. Even though he is the most experienced Polar explorer, he’s not in charge. He already knows he will be written out if the mission is successful, but that he will be the forgotten man of history. I read a lot of his letters before he disappeared in the ice. He had an adventurous spirit too, but knew he had to be at sea to secure his future. They were the rockstars of the era.’

Jared Harris as Francis Crozier – ‘The Terror’

Menzies also reveals that there was a lot of background material available on Fitzjames too. ‘He was a star of the age. There were actually a couple of biographies written about him. You have to knit together what you find out, but also add in what the show needs from him. The heart of who he is, the fact that he isn’t everything he appears to be when we first meet him, is weaved into the show.’

‘I didn’t want it to descend into a monster story, which otherwise can get very boring. It is a character driven show, and a cautionary tale about Imperialism’, Harris summarises when talking about the 10 episodes of The Terror.
BT TV will be broadcasting the first episode of The Terror for free in the UK via Youtube on April 24.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.