limitless interview

One of the many movies becoming TV series this fall is Limitless. The CBS drama is a spinoff from the film of the same name,, with Bradley Cooper reprising his role of Eddie Morra, who in the show is now a Presidential candidate. The star of the show is Jake McDorman as Brian Sinclair, a man who comes into a stash of the miracle drug NZT, which unlocks the potential of one’s mind. The FBI recruits Brian to use his powers to help them solve cases.

Marc Webb directed the pilot to Limitless, keeping with the style of Neil Burger’s original movie to launch the TV version of the story. Earlier in the summer I had a chance to speak with Webb one-on-one at a CBS party; we discussed the show, and addressed the then-recent news of Spider-Man returning to Marvel after Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man movies.

Did you feel like you were setting up a series, or making the sequel Limitless 2?

It was absolutely conceived of as a series. It’s sharing a world. It is in some sense a sequel but it’s really setting up characters that you’re going to enjoy spending time with for a very long time.

It’s definitely a sequel because Bradley Cooper appears as Eddie Morra.

I would say spinoff is more accurate.

You had access to Cooper in the pilot but did you still have to be judicious about how you used him?

Bradley’s a nuclear weapon. You have to be very careful about how you use that kind of thing. A real talent, but he was involved not simply as an actor but creatively as well. We had a lot of conversations about the creative impulses of the show. He started off in TV and has a real savvy understanding of how it works and what it takes to make a show work. He worked with Alex [Kurtzman] and Bob [Orci] on Alias. He has quite a good head on his shoulders.

It’s called Limitless and you have fun with how limitless the character is on NZT, but do you also have fun with how he comes down from NZT?

Well, that’s not the most fun part of the drug, but there’s limitations in its limitlessness. How’s that for a quote? There’s always fun to be played. You know, Spider-Man runs out of web fluid, so there’s a limit to how perfect a mind can be, a time limit anyway.

Did you actually talk about the Spider-Man webshooters on the set or is that just for me?

No, that didn’t come up. But every power needs to have a weakness. That’s why Achilles had the heel. It’s what makes characters relatable and interesting. You ultimately are engaged by characters butting their head up against obstacles. Some of those obstacles are external. Some of them are internal.

How satisfying is it to fans of the movie?

I think it’s great because there’s a romance and a mythology that will continue that has been established somewhat in the film but we don’t know who made NZT. We don’t know why they made NZT. All that stuff is going to be explored in the long run.

Is that divided evenly with how much fun you can have with NZT weekly?

Yeah, there is definitely a wish fulfillment component to it which makes this kind of show a unique take on a type of CBS drama that has been really successful and popular.

Could other people conceivably get NZT? Could a woman get NZT too?

Wouldn’t that be interesting. A woman gets NZT in the film. But it’s a very dangerous substance. It has a lot of side effects.

Is Spider-Man going back to Marvel a little bittersweet that your Amazing series will only be a two parter?

No, I’m very excited for all the folks at Marvel and what they’re going to do with that character. I think he belongs in that universe and there’s a real excitement to see what they come up with. Maybe we’ll all be on a panel someday, Sam, me and whoever directs it. [Jon Watts was announced as director after this interview.]

Were you already onto other movies by the time that was announced?

Yeah. Until you’re on set I’m very skeptical about talking about it, but there’s a lot of stuff down the road.

You also directed the pilot to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend so I’d love to hear you talk about that, too.

It’s just a unique, amazing, brilliant talent named Rachel Bloom who’s just extraordinary, and extraordinary in the sense of talents. She can write music, she writes comedy, she performs it. She’s a very, very special woman. I got the chance to work for two brilliant women, Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom. I love musicals and this is an original musical for TV. It’s a very rare thing but a blast.

Was your musical number in (500) Days of Summer kind of your audition?

In a way, I’m sure, yes.

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Limitless premieres Tuesday, September 22 at 10 PM on CBS.

Marvel’s Spider-Man opens on July 28, 2017.

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