Tuesday during the Television Critics Association press tour, members of Revolution's cast and crew — producers Eric Kripke and Jon Favreau, as well as stars Tracy Spiridakos, Billy Burke, and Giancarlo Esposito — gathered to excitedly discuss one of fall's most ambitious projects. The show, which focuses on a separated family trying to reunite and survive in a future dystopian society where all electricity has been turned off, is undoubtedly NBC's riskiest (and most expensive) fall offering.
Although Lost tends to be on everyone's mind when an epic serialized drama like Revolution is created (especially when J.J. Abrams is at its helm), Kripke said he isn't planning on creating a series of unanswered mysteries — which could be interpreted as a dig at Lost's frequently frustrating storytelling. "I'm not a fan of endless mystery in storytelling," Kripke said. "I like solid, aggressive, red-blooded storytelling. I like to know where the mythology is going. I like to get there in a fast-paced way... [to] pay off and reward the audience's loyalty. I never get too precious with the questions, because you can answer the questions and ask new ones. I like to tell stories that have beginnings, middles, and ends."
Kripke went on to say that although they'll spend some time exploring the frantic, bloody mess that came when the lights went out, the adventure will mostly play out fifteen years in the future, as society tries to rebuild. "I think it's a really compelling 'What if?'," he said. "What would happen if we lived without electricity in this technologically overextended world of ours?" To help construct that reality, Kripke brought a physicist into the Revolution offices, and gave him the secret as to why it happened. According to Kripke, the physicist's face lit up when he read the script. "He said it's absolutely possible."
The creator is enthusiastic about the journey his characters will take. "For me, it's this epic, fun saga. It's this journey about a family that's struggling to reunite. There are very fascinating characters who are struggling to come together against remarkable diversity." This story, according to Kripke, "isn't about death, but rebirth." Instead of dystopian classics like Planet of the Apes
and Logan's Run
, Kripke was influenced by Star Wars
and Lord of the Rings
— stories about heroes trying to rebuild a better world, rather than save one that is falling apart.
Favreau, a decorated filmmaker, discussed the rise of television as an art form: "As the movie industry becomes more restrictive, you're seeing this open up on the TV front. There is room for really smart storylines. The audience has become increasingly sophisticated... there is a serialized version of it, as you can unfold more sophisticated story lines. While there's an underlying mystery to it, we still want to make it about the people and the emotion." He joined because of Abrams' and Kripke's storytelling, as well as Esposito's involvement in Breaking Bad
The AMC vet joins the show as a bone-chilling villain, but his mode of transportation is what really
attracted Esposito to the character. Esposito joked, "One of the first things I put on my resume as an actor is, 'I can ride a horse'." But going back to simpler, pre-car times is something that the actor's character isn't too keen on — he wants to restore the world's power.
Headliner Burke, however, is completely on board with a pre-electric society: "This is the biggest gift I've been given in a very long time. I couldn't be happier about it. I could probably get along without a cellphone."
Kripke added, "We want this world to be hopeful, romantic, and lovely. Nature is taking it back."
Esposito continued on the delights in playing his horrifying villain. "It's delicious to play this bad guy," he said. "What I love about creating a bad guy is to make him somehow good — doing something bad for a good reason. This guy is the one step that is keeping everyone safe. Without him, there would be total anarchy. He is trying to restore some kind of reason. Is he as bad as you think he is? Wait and see. He does something for a group of people that he needs to help."
With the pilot placing a large focus on the presence of guns in this reality, it's hard not to consider the identity of firearms in our own society, especially in light of the tragedy that took place in Aurora, Colo. Kripke said, "It's a terrible, terrible tragedy, and my heart goes out to everybody in Colorado." He intends to illustrate a different world, wherein guns play a different role: "We're talking about a broader canvas. We're talking about a dictator... taking away the freedoms of what was once the citizens of the United States in 100 different ways. It's very patriotic ... in many ways, [it's] about people fighting for freedom. Again, what you're referencing is a small part of a much larger canvas."
The world Kripke and his fellow creative forces develop for Revolution
is truly a vivid one, strengthened by performances by Burke and the villainous Esposito especially. Catch the series when it premieres on NBC in September. Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
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