'Awake' Star Jason Isaacs: 'I Would Have Been Resentful If I Passed Up This Job'
The obvious question for people deciding to tune in is whether or not they're going to find out which reality is the right one, but that's not necessarily what this show is about. What do you say to those people looking for a specific answer?
I’m a producer on the show. I’ve been in on the discussions from the beginning, shaping the story and the story lines, and it’s one of those things obviously we discussed with each other, but it’s not that relevant. If they think the show will be about guessing which world is real or not then they’re being slightly misled. That’s sleight of hand anyway, that’s setting out the premise. Our show is not like that every week.
In fact, to tell the truth, our show is not like itself every week. The central conceit is the same and the characters are the same often, but the writers have found this to be -- I know because I’ve spent a lot of time and talked to them -- found this to be one of the hardest things they have ever worked on and also one of the freest because their imagination can go nuts.
You will see towards the end of the season, they have kicked the walls down. When they really found their feet, it’s amazing what they let fly. The premise just takes us into a universe and then the universe takes hold. Every week is not about is it heads or tails at all.
Among some of us there's a concern about ambitious shows like this catching on with a mainstream audience. Did you have that concern at all in making it?
A lot of critics and journalists I have spoken to have said "Well, I love it, but do you think the American public will understand it?" And I just think that’s an insult to American audiences who are very sophisticated. [They] made The West Wing one of the most popular TV shows in the country for almost a decade and that was dealing with the great issues of global politics through character.
This is a really simple concept. Which of my worlds is real, and what would you do if you didn’t know which world was real? So will they get it? Can they follow it? Yes, there’s no way we make any story too complicated to follow. Is it unlike anything else on television? Yes it is. There is nothing that it is a direct copy of and hopefully it’s original enough and yet familiar enough that people will want to come to watch it.
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 both fun to watch and fun to talk about afterwards. That’s what I try to be part of doing, and if people find it and like it, great, and if they don’t that will be a shame. But I trust the American public; if they see it and like it, it will be because they are perfectly smart enough to follow it.
There has been an odd thing that has happened, actually. in the making of this. The creators themselves were nervous about [did] we need to make it clearer which world we are in and was it too complicated. And I have two daughters, one of whom [was] five when I was making the pilot. I was with her and she was explaining the story to her friend in the park. I shot it on my iPhone and I came back and I showed Howard and Kyle [Killen] 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."
My thanks to Jason Isaacs for taking the time for this interview! See him when Awake premieres tonight on NBC at 10 PM ET/PT.
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.