Before unleashing his own impending gem onto audiences in October (“The Hollow), actor turned filmmaker appears in someone else’s promising project – in this case, The CW’s Containment.
Had you seen the original series, Cordon?
I have not, but I have heard great things about it.
Does the US show differ from it at all?
My understanding is yes. Although the basic premise is the same, a number of logistics and even characters have changed.
Was your character in the original Belgium series?
I’m not sure about that one. I’m sure there’s a character who’s like him, who serves a similar purpose.
How would you describe the tone of the show?
The producers and writers have done an excellent job of putting a bunch of different genres in the blender and concocting something that’s utterly compelling. It’s a political thriller, it’s a bit of social commentary, an outbreak/catastrophe genre piece, a human drama, a dark comedy (at times). I’ve called it HOMELAND meets 24 meets THE WALKING DEAD. What’s so arresting, so terrifying about it is that it feels so real-world, so ripped-from-the-headlines. I mean a virus with a 100% mortality rate breaks out in a major American city. All these questions emerge amid the chaos. The first being, of course, is it a terrorist attack? That’s exactly how I imagine it would go if something like this really happened. When we were shooting last fall, news of the Zika outbreak in South America broke. The year before, it was Ebola … Bird Flu before that. This series will strike a nerve because, although we haven’t faced something on this level, it’s something we see as very possible. It’s something that’s a very real fear.
David Nutter has directed some superb TV over the years. He helmed this too, I believe?
David directed the pilot. Julie Plec is really the driving force behind it. She’s been responsible for some of the CW’s biggest hits (Vampire Diaries, The Originals) and it seems like the network gave her some latitude to really push the envelope here and she did so here to great effect. I believe it’s a really special show. So many creative and generous people involved and working together toward the singular end of doing something that’s not only going to entertain, but move and impact people, make them laugh and probably cry a bit too. It was just one of those projects that had a great energy about it from start to finish.
What are the most noticeable differences working in TV to film?
TV moves faster, but most everything else is the same. And, in recent years, television shows, television writing, has gotten so good, so filmic, that the differences between the two mediums really have diminished.
You have a film you directed coming up called The Hollow. What can you tell us about it?
THE HOLLOW is a southern noir murder thriller that chronicles the aftermath of the murder of a U.S. Congressman’s daughter in a small southern town. I had long wanted to write something that hearkened back to the work of some of my literary heroes and to my home state of Mississippi’s rich literary legacy, to Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Shelby Foote. Their works burst with the unique, cultural stamp of the deepest part of the Deep South, for well and ill. My state has overflowing reserves of beauty and despair and I wanted to capture both in this piece. I had long admired Cormac McCarthy’s NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and the Coen Brothers’ mesmerizing cinematic retelling of it. So, I endeavored to write a script that captured the pathos and mood of that work (and some of the literary preoccupations of the aforementioned Mississippi writers) set squarely amid the thorny, gothic beauty of the Mississippi in which I grew up. After THE HISTORIAN (my first feature), I also simply wanted to write something that was slightly more accessible to a larger audience.
I very much liked the idea that a senseless act of violence brings together these tortured, complicated characters with their own enormous baggage and forces them to reckon with their own demons, that it is the conduit through which they rise above or succumb to their baser inclinations. Everybody’s something of an exposed nerve. And it’s hard to locate a real “hero,” at least in the modern sense of the term. I liked the idea that our two main characters are both veterans and have been “wounded” physically and mentally, that they have not yet come to terms with their past and so cannot fully live in the present. The literally bear scars that have not—perhaps cannot—heal. How do they move past that fact? Anyway, it boasts an amazing cast. I was so fortunate to work with each of them: James Callis (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA), Christiane Seidel (BOARDWALK EMPIRE), William Sadler (SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION), William Forsythe (THE ROCK), Jeff Fahey (TEXAS RISING), David Warshofsky (TAKEN). And each of them brought their A game to this project. The film is being released theatrically by Uncork’d Entertainment in October. I’m looking forward to sharing it with audiences.