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'Awake' 101: Star Jason Isaacs Gives Us 5 Reasons to Watch

Mar 01, 2012 | 1:32pm EST

Jonah HexTonight, March 1, marks the premiere of NBC’s most promising new offering: Awake. This psychological thriller replaces The Firm, which practically bombed in the Thursday 10 p.m. timeslot and the good news is Awake has the potential to dry the peacock’s tears. It’s actually pretty great. We had the chance to chat with star Jason Isaacs, who stars as Michael Britten, the man who lives two different realities after a car accident. Michael lives in a world in which his wife lived and his son died, but as soon as he closes his eyes to sleep, he’s transported to another reality in which the reverse is true. It seems complicated, but Isaacs helped us through it:

Isaacs Knows Which World Is Real, But We Shouldn’t Worry Our Pretty Little Heads About It

“Yes I know, if we were ever forced to make a decision to tell the public I know exactly what we would do, something Kyle and Howard and I know and we are never going to tell anyone…But it really doesn’t affect anybody watching because for Michael Britten both worlds are real and that’s the central hook and concept of our - of, you know, that’s our premise. And he doesn’t know which one is real and has to treat both with equal respect and honor them.”

It’s Complicated, But Not Too Complicated

“I have two daughters and one of whom is five when I was making the pilot. And I was with her and she was explaining the story to her friend in the park and I shot it on my iPhone and I came back and I showed Howard and Kyle and various other people my five year old explaining the story in two sentences. And I said it’s incredibly simple. I don’t know who it is you’re worrying about watching it out there but you’re wrong.”

His Main Concern is Quality, Not High Viewership

“It’s a terrible thing to say commercially I’m not really interested in getting audiences for the sake of getting audiences, just making something that is on and is watched. I want to make something that is really good. I want to tell really good interesting stories in a way that is engaging and gives you both fun to watch and fun to talk about afterwards.”

Don’t Try To Peg It For One Genre – Awake is Awake
“So it is what it is. It’s Awake and we would love it if everyone who likes sci-fi loved it and everyone who liked police procedurals loved it and anyone who liked emotional psychological dramas loved it. But it wasn’t designed to fit demographics, it was designed to be a great story. And hopefully it’s universally acceptable.”

Michael Accepts His Double Reality, But It Won’t Be Easy

“As an undercurrent there is always the thought that this can’t be okay in the long run. I mean, who could ever sustain this? But, you know, the crime that week takes precedence. And there are times when it’s just not going well enough with his wife or well enough with his son or something is going wrong for him and the world begins to fray…

There is one time when he can’t seem to wake up in one world and there is, you know, times when it looks like he might have to give one up. I mean, there’s times when the therapists get him and he thinks - and such strange things happen in one world that he has to try and acknowledge or try to avoid acknowledging to himself that one of these worlds must be a dream. And we play with an awful lot of it, every permutation of nightmares seem to go through. We put him through the ringer.”

Awake premieres Thursday, March 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. And the full pilot is available for streaming right now on
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