If you are under the impression that the new Showtime series The man who fell to the ground It’s just a racially diverse remake of the 1976 Nicolas Rouge movie, you could be wrong. Instead, the ten-episode series is an insightful sequel to the original science fiction novel by Walter Teves and the blockbuster David Bowie.
The original narrative follows an alien from the fictional planet Anthea who comes to Earth in an attempt to find water and resources. Calling himself Thomas Jerome Newton, he patents several inventions that provide him with great wealth and privileges, but in the end he is distracted by vice and undergoes horrific experiments. He never comes home.
In the series, creators and executive producers Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek: Discoveryand Jenny LumetClarice) Expand the plot by introducing a new Anthean named “K. Faraday” when it crashes in New Mexico. To play Faraday, who has been subjected to massive emotional and physical trauma as he is forced to adapt to a new planet, new species, and a dizzying array of languages and cultural mores, the showrunners turned to Academy Award-winning actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dr. Gharib).
Unlike his predecessor, Faraday’s mission is not to find water. It fixes that quickly. (He pushed four feet of garden hose down one of his throats to quench several light-years of thirst when he arrived.) His first order of business is to track down Newton, the character initially portrayed by Bowie, now much older and played by Bill Nighy (Castlevania) for the series.
Determined to find fellow Anthian and former mentor, Faraday enlists the help of Justin Falls (Naomie Harris), a former nuclear fusion scientist who conducted an experiment that cost a man his life. She is now making ends meet as she shovels biological waste into a landfill in suburban New Mexico. She gets rid of enough Falls to feed her daughter and care for her sick father, Josiah (Clark Peters). She hit rock bottom that she was forced to buy his medicine from a dealer, and required to pay her father’s physical therapy bill while still paying for food.
SYFY WIRE spoke to Ejiofor and Harris about their immersion process, Faraday’s relationship to Newton, and why in essence, The man who came to earth It is a human story told from the perspective of an immigrant.
How does Faraday view Thomas Newton because he never returned to Anthea?
Shewel Ejiofor: Well, they have a deep kind of difficult relationship. There is a lot of pain and feeling abandoned by these two in particular because they had such a strong connection with Anthea. So this sense of loss is very strong.
But there is almost a kind of love and affection under both father and son. So they are getting big challenges from each other and this is fully explored as the show progresses.
Naomi, your character Justin’s greatest victory is achieving fusion energy, but it came at a huge cost to her. How does that affect her trip?
Naomi Harris: She was very reluctant at first to go on Faraday’s mission because she felt guilty. Basically, she’s made her whole life revolve around punishing herself for what happened. So she really didn’t want to go on this mission, but in the end she learned that the fate of the entire planet, and therefore the people she loves most, is in the balance and that’s what led her to finally join him.
In the first few episodes, Faraday comically imitates many languages, dialects, and facial expressions. Was that an actor’s dream?
Ejiofor: Yes, it was really exciting to be able to play someone who is experiencing the world for the first time and also absorbs so fast that they speak different languages. He tries different things and different accents and that was definitely one of the things that really attracted me to the character when I started reading the script.
Naomi, is it true that you didn’t train before the initial encounters? And if so, have any of Chettle’s advances as Faraday surprised you?
Harris: No, I did not train. Chiwetel did practice with Alex, but Chiwetel and I didn’t practice. So everything that was happening was happening for the first time for me. Especially the first times we did it. So I stayed on my toes throughout filming, which is exactly what I love. I like to be surprised.
Faraday describes himself as an immigrant several times in this series, but he seems to mean something different each time he says it. So has the term taken on a new meaning because you play this role?
Ejiofor: Yes, I think so. The nature of migration is very central to the themes of this story. And the way we look at immigration. People sometimes look at displaced persons, and they do not always see the fullness of their abilities. Not just what they might want, but what they might bring.
I think that’s the fault of a lot of people, a lot of us humans have and I involve myself in this context. Sometimes people look at things through a very narrow lens. And what Faraday is asking, I think, more than anything else, is to explore the opening of the lens in the way you look at a stranger. They may be there to take away something, but they may be there to offer you, a salvation that you could only dream of.
Do you feel like this is a story about an alien becoming human or are humans becoming more?
Harris: I think they really are both. It’s definitely a story about an alien who became human because we see Faraday when he first arrives fully focused on his mission. [At first]He seems to have no concerns about the family he left behind. I suspect [spending time with] Justin’s family, he learns to connect with something alien to him, which is his heart, his feelings and his emotions. And he starts to really care. So I think that’s a huge shift for him.
Ejiofor: Faraday challenges humanity to look at their situation differently. I think that’s one of the things that really attracted me about this [story]. It doesn’t necessarily describe a course of action, but says, “I can’t tell you what the future holds for you, but I can tell you what happened where I come from.”
I think that’s a really powerful thing and I think it encourages humans to take on more responsibility. So that Earth and Planet don’t end up in the same vein as Anthea.
What are some of your favorite moments in the series?
Harris: I really liked the family scenes. Being with Clark who plays my dad and my daughter Annelle and Chiwetel too. It was really warm and when we were all together it was really fun too. So I always remember those moments very fondly.
Ejiofor: There’s a whole sequence at the end of Episode Four, without giving up much, where he plays what at first seems like a bit of female music as he evokes all these memories, feelings, and emotions. [He doesn’t understand what’s happening] He goes out and meets with Justin. And they have a chat, a very crude conversation about where they are and I find the whole sequence beautifully written. It was great to play. Out of a number of scenes that I loved in the entire series, I thought that was very special.
The man who fell to the ground It premieres on Showtime on April 24 at 10 PM ET. New episodes will be broadcast weekly.