To brief us on the world of 12 Monkeys here are two of the co-executive producers in Travis Fickett and Terry Matalas. They spoke to us at a roundtable at New York Comic Con.
Tony Tellado: The original movie is one of my favorites of all time ? How did you approach this ? You can do what they did or do your own thing. From what I heard, you’re doing your own thing and using the movie like a springboard.
Travis Fickett: Yup. That’s exactly right.
Terry Matalas: When we sat down with Atlas (Entertainment) who made the original film, they have been trying to turn this to a series for a long time. Our initial instinct was don’t do it because we were huge fans of the movie. But then when we started to dig into it and go back and read David and Janet Peoples’ original script and look at the thriller aspect of what is really a who-dunn-it, this consiparacy, we were like “There is a way to do this as a serialized time travel show that’s very different from the movie. It’s not the Terry Gilliam dissertation.
Travis Fickett: You can’t do the movie again. There’s no way. It’s a finite story. It’s closed off,closed ended.Even if we remade that into the pilot, we’d have no way to go.
So we had to open up that story and that world and tell it in a different way.We made some key changes to the mythology and the characters.
Terry Matalas: And we get to spend, in the movie, you don’t get to spend a lot of time in that future. In this series you will.We really open up the post apocalypse. And we deleve into the story or our main character Cole. In the movie, he’s plucked out of a prison and you’re not sure why he’s there.While we have a similar set-up here, his arc is pivotal to the redemption story that we are trying to tell in this series.
Could this be a no-win scenario not to alieninate the fans of the original movie and decide what to keep and what to leave out ?
Travis Fickett: You keep what works for the story. Once we started turning this into a tv series, we had to say ‘What makes story ? ”What makes these characters somebody that you want to tune in each week to see ?” That’s really the guide. There’s not a formula. There’s stuff that we loved about the movie, one of the coolest was that you can’t change time.He is only going back to observe.That’s one of my favorite mythologies in time travel fiction.
Terry Matalas: But you can’t do it in a long time travel serialized show.You could but I don’t think it’s as satisfying. The stakes are significantly higher if you can make a change to time and history that can be devastating. It can be worse than the disaster that you are trying to save.
So what are the stakes ?
Terry Matalas: The lives…There are two aspects…There’s emotional stakes for one.The main character his main mission is to save the lives of seven billion people. Stop this plague.But what you’ll quickly realize in episodes one and two, in order to survive in this apocalypse, he was sort of an orphan when the apocalypse happened. He had to do these horrible things to survive. It’s really about saving himself.If he changes history, changes time, he would have undone roughly thirty years of pretty horrible living.
Travis Fickett: Seven billion people died but for everyone in 2043 which is our future, that’s history to them. Just like 6 million, 12 million people died in World War II. That’s our history. But that doesn’t mean that we go back and erase the entire baby boomer generation.
Terry Matalas: None of us would be here if you did that.
Travis Fickett: Saving 12 million people is the noble thing to do. It’s the right thing to do.
Terry Matalas: We expore the consequences and different points of view of Time Travel.
Will the series be told in a linear fashion ?
Terry Matalas: You’ll see in the pilot right away that we are doing some non-linear stuff. There are people who have met each other in timelines but the other person hasn’t because they haven’t gone back to meet that person. We do that throughout the first season and will continue to do that through out the series.We just think that audiences are sophisticated and smart enough now.They’ve been raised on Back To The Future, Doctor Who, and Star Trek that they can understand the fragmented time line and I think enjoy putting that puzzle together. Especially for binge watchers.Binge watchers will love this because it’s immediate set-up then pay off.
Travis Fickett: It’s not just the time travel, we’re playing with. Creatively, narratively we’re doing some difficult stuff.Not difficult but ambitious stuff.You’re getting Cole’s back story so there’s flashbacks.You’re seeing some alternate pasts that could or could not be taken.I think it’s pretty ambitious but I think people will be drawn into it.
Terry Matalas: And we have an incredible cast that can support this. Aaron Stamford who we worked with on Nikita plays Cole,your non traditional hero in every way.The emotion and sort of hurt and pain that he brings into it.
Travis Fickett: And an intensity
Terry Matalas: And there’s Amanda Schull who brilliant as his confidante. And there’s Emily Hampshire who’s here and plays the Brad Pitt character who has now been re-invented to play Jennifer Goines. And we’re absolutely estatic about a German actor Barbara Sukowa from the Fassbender films Lola has come on. And she is the scientist behind the time travel project. She’s sort of like the Adama of Time Travel on our show.She’s phemoninal.
Travis Fickett: And we have Kirk Acevedo. I think people are going to be pretty blown away from him.It’s a side of him that you haven’t seen.It’s a role that he hasn’t played I think.All of them together has been an amazing ensemble.More than one time on set where a scene has played out and there’s silence and the crew just goes wow.
Will we see the past and future ?
Terry Matalas: The answer is stay tuned there’s lots of zigs and zags coming all about.
Travis Fickett: What you will find out at the end of the first season is the plague and the virus is not the worst thing to happen to humanity. Something else was.
Terry: Matalas: Just dropping that bomb without checking with me. It’s true.The plague is just the beginning of the conspiracy.We have to stop on that, seriously we have to stop.
Special thanks to the SyFy Channel