In a matter of days the highly anticipated new drama Awake will hit the airwaves. Despite it being in a historically bad time slot (Thursday 10pm on NBC) I have high-hopes for this new, incredibly smart drama about a homicide detective living in two different realities after a car accident with his wife and son: One reality in which is son survives the crash and his wife does not, and the other where his son is the one who perishes while his wife survives. I was able to sit down with star Jason Isaacs on the set of Awake to discuss the show, the realities, and little bit about Harry Potter.
Isaacs takes on double duty with the new series. He’s not only the star but a producer as well. According to Isaacs, however, he nearly passed up the show entirely. When he received the script he said it got tossed aside, but once he sat down and read it he couldn’t put it down and knew he had to be involved. “In many ways I just took the job to find out what happens next,” said Isaacs who thinks people should have no problem grasping what the show is about. “They worried initially–the producers and directors and writers–about if people would ‘get it’ and I played them this thing I’ve got on my iPhone of my then five-year-old daughter Ruby explaining the plot to me. Everybody gets it when they watch it and I think its very satisfying and rewarding and fun. You can over complicate things when you explain it.”
Which Reality is Real?
While Executive Producers Kyle Killen and Howard Gordon dodged the question about which reality is real, or if the writers know which is real, Isaacs had no problem waving that little carrot in front of our noses. “I know which reality is real. Myself and the writers know. The entertainment value for the audience hopefully will be, first off, not knowing which world is real; just like Michael doesn’t know what’s real. Also, the weekly stories, seeing what the consequences are both professionally and personally for him of this very unique and troubling situation he’s in.”
While some speculate that both realities are a dream and Britten himself is the one who perished, the producers promise not to take the easy way out (hesitantly referring to Lost‘s horrible ending). So while the ending may “seem obvious” we are told to keep an open mind. While there will be a resolution to a serialized conflict during the first season, producers promise there will be much more of the story to tell in coming seasons and that the ending is “hopefully many years down the road.”
Isaacs is probably most known for his role as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films. It is a role that Isaacs is proud to carry with him and hopes that his fans through Harry Potter will continue to support his career decisions and tune into Awake. According to Isaacs he has already received a lot of Potter support from the fans that attended the San Diego International Comic-Con. “A lot of [Harry Potter fans] came out to Comic-Con. We showed the pilot to thousands of people there and many of them, I think, were hoping I would turn up with an elf,” joked Isaacs.
When asked about closing the chapter of Harry Potter Isaacs got series for a moment and said “It was sad, actually. Two weekends ago I went to Florida for the DVD release of the last film and it was probably the last time [the entire cast] will all be gathered together and it was heartbreaking because it was 10 years of very good times.” Isaac continued, “Apart from my own personal experience of it’s great fun to do with a lot of my heroes acting around me its also true that it was such a relief and such an odd experience in 21 years of acting of telling a story that you knew had an audience and you knew the whole world was waiting to see so everybody felt completely empowered. Normally you have that undercurrent of fear of ‘is what we’re doing good enough?’ and ‘will they like it? is what we’re doing working? we think it is…’ but with Harry Potter its a 180 degree opposite. We knew we had something that was beloved and we felt like we were curators of it and I’ll miss that experience, that’s for sure.”
When asked about the atmosphere on set, Isaacs shared with us his stance as a producer is to maintain the element of fun. “I make sure nobody takes anything too seriously. I gave a little speech the first day which is ‘Let’s nobody be a dick. That was it. That was the whole speech. I bring a big boombox on the set and play some very bad ’70’s disco and everybody is forced to dance in a very undignified fashion so nobody is posing in front of each other and we try to have a good time while shooting it because it may be the most popular show in the world or it may have nobody and a dog watching it so let’s just enjoy the experience.”
So, why should you tune in? Straight up, because it’s brilliant television. I had high hopes for this show before I was able to talk to the cast and see the set, but after that experience I have real conviction that this show can thrive. It is smart television for smart people, and I know my readers are smart people, so it’s a perfect fit! Please tune into NBC Thursday nights at 10pm starting March 1. Prove to me that we don’t live in a world where shows like Awake get canned but the Kardashians still get their 47 shows (or however many they have now) renewed. If patience isn’t your thing and you want to check out the first episode of Awake right now you can do so right here.
(Image courtesy of NBC)