counterpart

Is there an actual theater called Cosima or is that an Easter egg?

You mean the marquee outside the Cosima in Berlin? Yes, it is the Cosima theater. It’s actually a marquee that I fell in love with because I wanted people to remember it because it’ll come back again. When you do, I wanted to just find icons like that that stood out in our head.

Did you know that’s the name of one of the clones in Orphan Black?

No, really? Interesting. It’s a real location in Berlin. It’s a beautiful old theater that still shows silent films.

Was episode four the longest you could wait to hold off on bringing our Howard into Prime?

Yeah, I consider if the first season is 10 episodes, the act break between acts one and two is episodes three and four. That’s where the problems of the premise start to present itself. That’s where it becomes a show about not just two versions of the same self, but both of these versions inhabiting each other’s lives.

As far as I’ve gotten, I’ve seen three pairs. How many pairs could we potentially see in season one?

Here’s the nice thing about this show. Every actor on the show knows who their counterpart is. When they meet that counterpart or when we meet that counterpart is a bigger question. For some of them, it happens in the first season. For some of them, it happens beyond. The important thing for me was to make sure that everyone knew who they were on that other side so that they could plan their character based on an opposition that would later come.

My question about Top Gun: Maverick is do you have a role for Kelly McGillis? Even if she and Maverick are no longer together, she could still be a veteran instructor.

I think Jerry [Bruckheimer] would kill me if I told any specific details, but what I will say, and I’m working on this show, so I don’t know what they’re doing. They could be doing a lot of [different] things but I can speak about my script. I spent a year and a half doing the research for it, understanding pilots and understanding what makes them who they are. Also, because Top Gun was a seminal experience for me in the movie theater when I was six-years-old and I saw it seven times, no movie looked or sounded like it, I know what I, as a fan, would want to see. Here’s what I can say about what I brought to it. I know I want it to be a story about Maverick where we get to see Maverick being Maverick in the way we want him to be. I feel like times have changed in 30 years but the desire for that kind of hero still remains the same. That doesn’t mean he’s a perfect character. That’s the fun of it.

One of the ways times have changed is that we don’t want to see the hero move on to some new young love interest.

Right, and without getting into details, that was something that was important to everyone to avoid, to find something new.

With Jungle Book 2, is there more Kipling to adapt?

There is. There is so much more Kipling to adapt. I just finished a draft of it quite recently. Even in the first film, we really looked to the other Kipling stories for inspiration, The Elephant and the history and the mythology and the creation of the jungle. In the second film, the idea is to go further through the Kipling but also go into some of the Disney resources from the ’67 film that maybe didn’t get to see the light of day in the first film. If you look back to Bill Peet’s work on the original film, some of which was thrown out by Walt Disney, Jon and I really dove deep into the Disney archives to see some of the ideas. We were like, ‘Wait, that’s a great idea. We really need that in the film.’ So we’ve built it out like that.

Did you go to the end of the original Kipling book in the first movie?

The Kipling ends with Mowgli returning to the man village, returning to man in some way. Obviously we wanted to suspend that at the end of the film, mostly because I felt like in a story of identity and appropriated identity, a boy from one world raised in another, it was important to Jon and it was important to me to tell a story about family being what you make of it, and identity being the people around you and that’s who you are. So it didn’t feel right to send him to another place, at least in the first film. A later film, maybe we reevaluate that.”

This film?

I won’t get into spoilers.

Hearing you describe the two worlds of The Jungle Book, did that inform Counterpart?

That’s interesting. I haven’t thought about that. I guess in a certain way, it probably did. Honestly, I consider myself to always have been alienated and born of two worlds in a certain way. Whether it was the fact that I was an east coast kid who was born in Texas just because my father was working there at the time and then moved to the east coast, had a silly accent that all the people on the east coast made fun of. I had this sort of love for movies and I was terrible at sports and I was always on the outside looking in so to speak. I always felt like Mowgli sitting there and watching the wolves howl. Maybe there was a sense of building two identities and adjusting it for different worlds.

Did Orphan Black and films like Multiplicity and Adaptation pave the way for making a show like Counterpart possible?

I’ll tell you how Orphan Black did. What did help pave the way is their method of shooting it, which I understand has a lot of her, not just two but many in certain scenes. At the beginning of our process, we’re trying to figure out how to do it technically. What was the fastest way that got the best performances, that made the best version of the scene? As we began to make a lot of mistakes and feel our way through the darkness, we actually called the Orphan Black producers an d their visual effects team. This was about a month and a half into production so a little late. We said to them, “How’d you do it? You must’ve figured it out.” On the phone to us, they said, “We’re still figuring it out. We still are doing it every day the hard way, just trying to get our way through it. Every scene is different.” That was both reassuring, in the sense that we’re not idiots. We’re not missing something, but also terrifying. That’s the barrel we’re staring down right now as we move into the future.

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Counterpart premiered on the Starz app in December and begins airing on Starz this Sunday, January 21, 2018.

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