BWW Interview's J.J. Abrams, J.H. Wyman Talk New FOX Series ALMOST HUMAN
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August 16, 2016
These are cops. Every week there is going to be - they're going to show up at work and they're going to have a case at work. That case is going to be really compelling and really fun and it's going to take them on a journey. Through those cases we're going to learn more about our characters and the relationships are going to diversify and grow.
Not to say that there is not any mythology; there is definitely going to be some mythology. Inherently, this show is a week-to-week great action show with cases that you've never really seen before, or concepts that you have seen, but just told in very different ways, because of the nature of our program. That's how they're going to go.
I'm always interested in hiding certain things and planting some things that will come around later, maybe in different ways than you first thought. That's it. But when you sit down to the show, what we're hoping is that you'll really be engaged by the compelling stories and these great characters, and go forward with them as they understand their place in the world.
I was wondering with Civil Rights Being such a big issue right now, are there robot rights, and robot marriage, and things like that?
J.H. That's a really good question. J.J. had set us up with some very, very brilliant people from MIT, and one of the brilliant people was a woman who studies robot ethics, which is pretty amazing because when you talk to her, you get the idea that, wait a second, this is definitely coming. Some of the amazing things with these robots that are now what we see in the future are definitely robots, not human. They're not becoming human, but they're definitely becoming beings.
That's a moment where you're thinking, they're real. They are thinking beings. What are their rights? Then, where are those lines drawn? A lot of those things are examined in some of our later stories. Those concepts of what exactly is a robot? What is an android? What is a being? If it's able to think, if it's able to be, then what? We're definitely interested in those types of things.
Kennex's human partner at the beginning of the pilot was left to die by the robots on the raid because he was too badly injured. Then Kennex goes in to try and save him, but winds up getting his whole unit killed and himself injured. Thinking about that, which is worse in your opinion - doing the right thing for the wrong reasons or doing the wrong thing for the right reasons?
J.J. I think Joel always does the right thing for the wrong reason. I think that, obviously, every situation is unique, but I think that in terms of the opening scene of the pilot, it was meant to demonstrate his approach and how he is a caring enough person that he would try and save his partner. I don't necessarily think that, and this is an argument in the show itself, that John, because of that, is responsible for everyone dying. There are certainly a lot of MX synthetic Cops around who are dealing with the raid as well. I do think that it was meant to illuminate his character as much as anything.
There are so many shows that have come and fallen under the bad robot umbrella, but aside Being set in the future, what do you really feel sets Almost Human apart from anything that bad robot has ever produced, J.J.?J.J. While we have been involved in a number of different series, none of them were approached from a strategic point of view, meaning we didn't really try to figure out how is this unique? We just tried to do it from the inside out and figure out what makes us care. I think that the specifics of this one, obviously, the story is very different than anything we've done before.
The type of show in that it is very much a cop procedural show, which is a very familiar show. We've seen a million buddy/cop shows and the fun of that was twisting it in a way that Joel came up with, which is having it set in a place and with specific characters that allow for conflict and cases every week that don't feel like everything you've seen a million times before. I think that this show has a level of humor that is distinct from what we've done. I think that part of it is just the relationship between Karl and Michael's characters.
How has the other science fiction work you've done influenced this particular science fiction show?
J.H. - For me, on Fringe, I got to, in a lot of the research that I did and got to experience on a week-to-week basis, really definitely influenced the direction of this program and how it was conceived. When you start to get involved in what's possible, what technology is out there, how is science dangerously out of control, what are we up against as the human race? It just really starts to make your mind expand with all these concepts that you sometimes worry about and sometimes go, wow, that's really wild.
It definitely, that for me was a huge influence. It actually, Looking at what's to come, in my experience on Fringe, it definitely was the seed of this program. I've always loved to talk about what ifs and scenarios of look where we're going. This is a perfect platform for these cautionary tales and what if scenarios.
You had such a gorgeous, interesting, futuristic look for this series and it reminded me a lot of Blade Runner, which is one of my favorites. I was wondering what kind of influence that film had on the look of this one?
J.H. - In my mind, you can't touch something in this wheelhouse, or in science fiction, without owing a huge debt to Blade Runner. It's definitely one of my favorite films. It has so much to look at. It was just so amazing and instructive as a young person watching that movie on how not just what's happening in the scene, but what's happening ten layers behind the scene, what's going on in the street behind it, and then what's going on in the building behind that? ... creating was a real lesson for me.
But there is something about those types of ... features that I definitely did not want to go for. I hope that we're not really in that territory and that we were successful, because what occurred to me is in watching all these incredible science fiction, or reading all these incredible science fiction books, the future is largely, oh, look what you humans have done. You've really messed up and now what are you going to do? Whereas I think what we were talking about is something a little bit more hopeful, that we will have some hardships as a human race and it will be difficult at times, but ultimately, we will persevere because that's truly what I believe.
I am a hopeful person. I really believe that the world is going to get it right somehow. I wanted to make it a brighter environment where it's not raining all the time, the atmosphere is not completely ruined, that people still have children and are very excited about their daughter's seven-year-old birthday party. That they'll want to do what they can to get her that present that she wants. That there is a sense of going forward and a sense of, okay, this is the future in 40 years.
It's still going to have a lot of the same stuff that we deal with now. It will have some things that are much better. It will have some things that are more dangerous, sure, but we're resilient and we're going to succeed. That was the difference. But as far as, of course, setting a world in the future and things like that, that's a huge influence on me.
UPCOMING EPISODES INFORMATION:
In the "Pilot" episode of ALMOST HUMAN, airing on the first night of the special two-night series premiere Sunday, Nov. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT), it's the year 2048, and an unprecedented increase in the crime rate requires every police officer to partner with an android. John Kennex (Karl Urban), a detective and sole Survivor of a devastating police ambush, and his new robot partner, Dorian (Michale Ealy), set out on their first mission to solve a crime and protect innocent people from the dangerously evolved criminals in this futuristic landscape.
In "Skin," airing on the second night of the special two-night series premiere Monday, Nov. 18 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT), Kennex and Dorian investigate a murder and high-profile missing persons case that leads them into the highly profitable world of IRCs - Intimate Robot Companions - also known as sexbots. Meanwhile, Kennex looks to reconcile a part of his troubled past.
About J.J. ABRAMS (Executive Producer/ALMOST HUMAN)
J.J. Abrams is the founder and President of Bad Robot Productions, which he runs with his producing partner, Bryan Burk. Formed in 2001, Bad Robot has produced films and television series such as "Cloverfield," the "Star Trek" franchise, "Morning Glory," "Super 8," "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," "Alias," "Lost," "Fringe," "Person of Interest" and "Revolution."
Born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, Abrams attended Sarah Lawrence College, where he co-wrote a treatment that became the basis for the 1990 comedy "Taking Care Of Business." In years following, he wrote or co-wrote such films as "Regarding Henry," "Forever Young," "Armageddon" and "Joy Ride."
In 1998, Abrams co-created his first television series, "Felicity," with collaborator and longtime friend Matt Reeves. Abrams served as executive producer for the series' four-season run. Additionally, Abrams created and executive-produced "Alias" and co-created (with Damon Lindelof) and executive-produced "Lost." Abrams co-created "Fringe" with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and served as executive producer for the series' five-season run.
In 2006, Abrams directed his first feature film, "Mission: Impossible 3." His second feature directorial effort, "Star Trek," was released in May 2009. "Super 8," written and directed by Abrams and produced by Abrams, Burk and Steven Spielberg, was released in June 2011. His most recent effort, "Star Trek Into Darkness," was released in May of this year. Abrams is currently working on the next installment in the "Star Wars" saga.
In 2005, Abrams received Emmy Awards for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for the "Lost" pilot, as well as Outstanding Drama Series for "Lost." He also received Emmy nominations for his "Alias" and "Lost" pilot scripts. In addition, Abrams composed the theme music for "Alias," "Fringe," "Lost," "Person of Interest" and "Revolution," and he co-wrote the theme song for "Felicity."
Abrams also serves as executive producer of the TV series "Person of Interest," "Revolution" and "Believe." Abrams and his wife have three children. They live in Los Angeles.
About J.H. WYMAN (Creator/Executive Producer, ALMOST HUMAN)
Born in Oakland, CA, J.H. Wyman grew up in Montréal, Canada. Wyman is best known for executive-producing FOX's acclaimed fan-favorite cult hit "Fringe." Wyman also wrote and produced "The Mexican," starring Brad Pitt. He has created several television shows, most notably "Keen Eddie," starring Mark Valley and Sienna Miller.
Wyman currently resides in Los Angeles.