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The line between good and evil blurs as a rogue FBI agent kidnaps a leading surgeon and her family in an attempt to assassinate the president. That’s the premise of M-Net’s Hostages. Debashine Thangevelo pieces together the intriguing plot with A-listers Dylan McDermott and Toni Collette, the show’s creative geniuses and the finest executive producers in television…
GOOD GUY GONE BAD
Dylan McDermott – Rogue FBI Special Agent Duncan Carlisle
WE loved him in The Practice and American Horror Story. McDermott’s movie roles (Three to Tango, Texas Rangers, The Messenger and lympus Has Fallen) are nothing to sniff at either – he always explores the full gamut of roles available. And he does a brilliant job; whether he’s a cheesy romantic lead, is exploring the darkness and malice in a character, or unleashing the heroism of a good guy.
In Hostages, he plays FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle, who goes renegade. But it isn’t a straightforward traitorous move.
On accepting the role, McDermott explains: “I really responded to Jeffrey’s (Nachmanoff – the executive producer, writer and director) writ- ing. I thought he did an incredible job. As an actor, I thought this was the perfect role – I like to play good and bad.”
The time frame of season one is two weeks and it is this fast-paced storyline that hooks audiences.
The Emmy award-winner continues: “I think it is important to say that this show is happening in almost real-time where the whole season is just two weeks, and that’s something we don’t necessarily get in the pilot, but you will understand as we go. That also gives leeway to do other seasons. In terms of my character, he is doing bad things for a good reason. There’s a duality that I respond to.”
Toni Collette as thoracic surgeon, Dr Ellen Sanders
Ellen Sanders and her family: husband Brian (Tate Donovan, daughter Morgan, played by Quinn Shephard) and son Jake (Mateus Ward) are held captive by Carlisle and his team.
Last seen on TV in the United States of Tara, a role which bagged Collette an Emmy, the actress switches things up this time around. Much shorter than the traditional 22-part series, the 40-year-old talks about how it impacts on actors and her performance: “I tend to follow my gut and it’s always about a good story and good material. And when I read this, it was an absolute page turner. I could not put it down. I guess the fact that it’s 15 episodes is more appealing.
“I’m always drawn to characters that seem real, and by that, I mean complex. Here’s a woman who is wearing several hats. She has a very high-pressured job she’s incredibly successful at. She’s a mom. She’s a wife. She is somewhat compromised at home even though she is successful at work.
“And the thing I really love about her is quite simple. I think here’s a woman who, in a way, has been toeing the line her whole life and she’s put in a situation which makes her walk straight across the line and figure out who she really is. I think it is about finding one’s strength and living authentically.”
Her character and family become pawns in an assassination attempt on the president’s life. And the hostage drama becomes the catalyst that brings the dysfunctional Sanders family closer.
The actress offers: “I suppose you start to appreciate what you’re given much more if you go through something as intense as this and face losing the people you probably take for granted day in and day out.”
THE CREATIVE GURUS
Jeffrey Nachmanoff (executive producer, writer, director) and Jerry Bruckheimer (executive producer)
The TV industry is flooded with nifty scripts. Fact. This year alone, homage was paid to out-of-the-box offerings like Homeland, Breaking Bad and House of Cards at the Emmys.
So you can imagine that if any writer/creator wants to create waves they have to raise the bar and conceive a plot that intrigues.
Of course, it certainly helps when Jerry Bruckheimer – the executive producer with the Midas touch (TV: CSI, Without a Trace, The Amazing Race; film: Beverly Hills Cop, Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lone Ranger) – throws his weight behind a series.
He explains: “I think it’s a great story and it is also about the talent. You know, a lot of actors don’t want to commit to doing 22 episodes.
“So you open it to a wider range of talent who become available to do 15. They can go on and do other things.
“It is important that it is a good drama, good characters and good themes, of course.”
Nachmanoff, the mastermind behind The Day After Tomorrow, Traitor and The Last Stand, exploits his knack for conspiracy theories in Hostages.
He enlightens: “I think it’s a cat-and-mouse story. I’ve always been a fan of Hitchcock films, suspense films, and the way I tried to make the pilot work and the way Rick (Eid – executive producer,writer) and I are trying to make the series work is to give the audience that feeling and ride of suspense. You feel on edge because you don’t know how it’s going to play out. Episode two picks up very much with the story. Ellen didn’t do what he said – she didn’t kill the president and she didn’t directly defy him. What is the fallout from that?”
Explaining the germination of the series, he says: “When it was brought to me, there was an Israeli concept that had already been written up, and there was a series of documents that Alon, one of our executive producers, had translated or created from what the Israelis had done. A part of me was like, ‘well, let me see the Israelli show’. But there is no show – it hadn’t been made yet (there were financial issues). We took the idea of the construct. There’s been some cross-pollination as well.”
Nachmanoff lets slip: “At some point in the next few episodes, the family is going to try and escape. And in the process, one of the central characters is going to get shot.”
While there is a large margin for a second season, viewers can, in the meantime, savour the nail-biting suspense when the key characters are pushed beyond their moral boundaries; where one decision threatens to spiral into an abyss of danger and where one family finds its greatest strength in its darkest moment while the mastermind behind it all realises just how high the stakes have become for him, his team and his sick wife.
Hostages hints at being an arresting series. You can decide though!
• Hostages airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Tuesday at 8pm.