Very few Hollywood writers have had the kind of interaction with both comics lore and top tier filmmakers in honing the craft. David Goyer is one of the elite few. He worked on The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan Trilogy but also on Man Of Steel & Batman Versus Superman. On top of that, he is actively working on “Fantastic Voyage” for Jim Cameron as well as being in the writers room for the new Terminator trilogy as soon as the right reverted back to the legendary director. His TV work is also very accomplished. Most recently he created “Constantine for NBC and “DaVinci’s Demons” for Starz. Next might be the most high stakes challeng”e for him via TV: “Krypton” on SyFy which follows the exploits of Seg-El, Superman’s grandfather. After completely a panel for “Krypton” at the NBC TCA Winter Press Day, Goyer spoke with The Inside Reel about texture, family and responsibility within his new series.
Can you talk about integrating Adam Strange as a sort of perceptor point for “Krypton” as a series?
David Goyer: Jeff [Goyer] and I always have a soft spot for him. As Jeff said, he’s a guy who ping-pongs around the world. I think he’s got an interesting backstory in and of himself, so maybe there was a possibility for an interesting spin-off or something like that. And we just thought we needed an audience proxy for the show. We needed somebody to represent people that aren’t comic book fans, that maybe don’t know anything about the Superman mythology. It seemed like a good match, and as Jeff alluded to, in terms of some of the other comic book arcs– there’s just some interesting things that we can do with him, particularly looking forward to season two and season three.
Can you talk about casting Seg-El and what compelled you about Cameron Cuffe as the character?
DG: It’s funny because I saw his early audition in the UK, and I called Jeff and I said, “I think he’s the guy. Check him out.” I don’t know. He’s calm and he’s heroic. He’s instantly likable as a person when I met him. I was joking about the talk, but that was a very real talk that we had in London. I said [to him], “You’re going to be under a tremendous amount of pressure, and it doesn’t mean you have to be a choir boy, but it does mean that you are an ambassador on a different plane than most comic book worlds.” And he got it. And he’s a genuine fan. He genuinely wanted to be there, which is also really important, because when you cast someone like that, you are thinking about, “Okay, this has to go hopefully for eight, nine years, and [we’re] at the beginning of it.” But he’s going to be front and center, doing all this press, meeting all these people in real life, and he will be an ambassador for us as a show. So he’s a great actor and he’s mature for his age, or it just doesn’t happen.
Now how did the whole idea, when casting, how far along were you in the writing process, and how did that sort of inset to the psychology of Seg-El as a character?
DG: I mean we were — if we hadn’t cast Cam, we would’ve had to push filming. We were right up against start. We’d already seen over 500 people and we cast sort of everyone but him.
And all 10 episodes of Season One were written at this point?
DG: No. Not all 10 were written. We’d written the first three. So we were literally talking about pushing production because we hadn’t found him, the guy. We’d already cast Georgina, who plays Lyta Zod, and the only reason she’s not out here, too, is because they’re both in so many scenes– we’re still filming — It was impossible to get them both here at the same time.
Did you ever worry, I mean chemistry-wise, that you hired the most important guy last? What if he doesn’t match up?
DG: Well, that’s why we had a screen test with Georgina. I mean, because they have to work together, because there’s a Romeo-and-Juliet aspect to the show, which I shouldn’t talk about. And so their relationship is the central relationship in the show.
This must be an intense production…
DG: It’s definitely intense. In terms of Warner Horizon, it’s by far the biggest budget — or Syfy. In terms of science fiction, it is the biggest budget show we’ve ever been on.
Could you talk about the family aspect? The whole thing with Zods. You can’t give too much away, but can you talk about the intersection of that?
DG: It’s a big, big aspect of the show, and the show is — it is as much about the House of Zod as it is about the House of El, and so family lineage, and what families stand for, and the family name, is an enormous part of the show.
By Tim Wassberg
Moving into the cable structure of NBC/Universal with dramatic outlays from SyFy to USA to E! The approach is multi-faceted appealing to demographics and textures of stories that continue to diversify.
Krypton (SyFy) This anticipated series follows the angle of Seg-El, Superman’s grandfather and the challenges he must face on their home planet. Creator David Goyer explains the approach: “We do roughly have a 7-8 year plan. Everyone know Krypton blows up. But this is an untold story. As you saw from the promo there is time travel involved. It is advantageous being its own thing with its own story. Not that much is know about Kryptonian society. We play and subvert into the expectations of what Superman’s grandfather would be like.” Cameron Cuffe, who plays Seg-El talks about the challenges of the role and his approach: “I am a fan. I have always loved Superman. He has always been there. I know what that symbol means and that keeps you grounded. These roles and these symbols mean something very real. The legacy seems very far away from him when the show begins.” Goyer continues on working in story elements that are unknown but also how it relates to today: “I can say that even when [Christopher] Nolan and I were working on “Batman Begins”, [we figured out] when there is a blind spot [it can be good]. Science fiction can act as an allegory for today. We’ve got 10 hours over the stories of the first season. It may not be hard to write Superman but it is hard to cast. It is an ineffable quality. Even if it is his grandfather, it is hard to cast Superman.” In terms of finding accessibility for the audience, the creators found the point of view through another DC mainstay character: Adam Strange. Geoff Johns, CCO and President of DC Entertainment, explains that engagement: “We wanted Adam Strange to be from Michigan, He doesn’t honor the same things Superman does. One of the great things about Adam Strange is that when he travels by Zeta Beam to the other planets he becomes this hero…an unlikely hero to shoulder a burden.” But as to the essence of Seg-El as a character: “He will at least try to make the right decision. He is meant to be better than us. But he is not perfect.”
Unsolved: The Murders Of Tupac & Notorious B.I.G. (USA) Doing dramatic interpretations of current events, especially ones as intrinsic as the murder of these two rap stars and the investigations thereof creates an interesting dichotomy. Exec producer Anthony Heminway, who directed “Red Tails” on the Tuskagee Airmen for Lucasfilm as well as episodes of American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson”, speaks on the approach to the story: “This is a way to really lay into the friendship [of Biggie and Tupac]. Even seeing the detectives point of view intersecting at the same point with different goals. The show really gives us this human study of what we are seeing today in our culture. It was about who [these men] could they have been today.” Marcc Rose, who plays Tupac Shakur, speaks of keying into his character: “It is just the layers of who he was. I am used to seeing the artist but behind the scenes [it is about] why he said certain things. He was filled with passion. His brother was on set [for this] and very helpful. To just be around him and also to meet Tupac’s mom before she passed [was invaluable].” Wavyy Jonez, who plays Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G., talks about his perception and engagement with the character: “This killing of Biggy and Tupac was a tragedy. But going back [if is about] what could have disconnected these two. But to go back and research and look at the friendship. Everything Biggy talks about is so yum. Coming from a single parent home and become so massive and then to lose your life.” Hemingway continues, discussing the impact of the music but the essential family stories at the core: “The music was the fun part of it. It was the soundtrack of my childhood. [But it was also] about having the opportunity of today and now. We really touch on a family story: a mother dealing with loss and watching her explore the voice and pain as well as triumph and courage.”
Citizen Rose With recent take down of Harvey Weinstein and his fall from grace no one has been more crucial and outspoken than Rose McGowan having spearheaded the movement. With her new reality show on E!, the camera will explore her everyday life which continues to develop every day. Sitting in front of the press at TCA, McGowan speaks: “I scare because I care. My father said I was born with my fist up. It is not important to be seen as anything. I don’t respect those who don’t respect. My platform is really raising consciousness by 10%. The narrative that has been run by me for 20 years has been erroneous.I think it is a time of reckoning and a reset button.” As to her decision to do a show with E!: “I really like the people at E.I feel comfortable working there because I know what I’m doing.” McGowan also speaks to the current state of women in the directors chair in the entertainment industry: “You have 96% directors in the DGA [that are male]. Fix that. 3 years ago when I was preparing for this show. I realized that I could not speak on camera without a script. I have trained the past 3 years to exist just as me. It is sometimes not pretty. It is raw and it is my truth. This is my form of volunteer work. [But] the terms are different this time. I was waiting so long for this guys. I don’t have a lot of trust. I am down with calling this “reality”…this is mine. It is not an accident that I am sitting here. I fought for this.” Speaking to her continuing activism. McGowan continues: “It is about freeing your mind. I wanted to be like Gertrude Stein and have a discussion with the world. “Rose Army” I trademarked 3 years ago in all forms. What it can do is eventually exert force. I know a lot of things so people think I make pronouncements.” She also speaks of dispelling myths but also the continued struggle: “I never signed an NDA. That is a mistake the press made. We have [also] found out a lot of them can be broken. [That said] I am having to sell my house to pay off legal bills to fight the monster.”
WWE RAW 25th Anniversary Wrestling is and continues to be a major draw despite any other sports criticism of it. The mix of persona and physicality is undeniable. Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Office of World Wrestling Entertainment, explains the power that this kind of sport provides: “We are more socially engaging than “Game Of Thrones.” This being the 25th Anniversary edition, the essence is on the moments of history that stand out. The Miz, one of the biggest draws of RAW, speaks on his memory: “Everytime I come out into the arena with 20,000 people saying “You Suck”. There is no better feeling in knowing with an audience that you have them.” McMahon believes in the progressive nature of the sport finally coming full circle: “In terms of real, one of my most memorable raw moments was a couple weeks ago, when I came out and surprise all the women in the ring when I was able to announce the All Women Royal Rumble match.” Retired WWE wrestler Sean Michael concludes the thought and infers the texture of his experience: “The most important thing here is the relationships. I am the only guy to be able to look at this in the rear view mirror. Taking a lot of it in and even though it is the silly WWE wrestling business, we are thankful to have it.”
By Tim Wassberg