Cast and crew of NBC’s newest show, “Taken,” discussed the experience and challenges of adapting a movie series for television during a Q&A discussion at aTVfest Feb. 4.
Following an advance screening of the pilot, executive producer and showrunner Alex Cary, along with actors Clive Standen, Gaius Charles and Brooklyn Sudano, addressed the different aspects of creating the television show, which acts as a prequel to the original film franchise starring Liam Neeson.
The plot of the show kicks off with a younger Bryan Mills, the role played by Neeson in the movies, as a recent war veteran who faces unexpected tragedy, which inevitably prompts him into becoming a CIA operative.
“We’re not trying to copy the film,” said Cary. “We have a chance here to create an origin story for the character and in creating an origin story, you can really start again.”
According to Cary, the first step and the first challenge in creating “Taken” as a television series was approaching Luc Besson, screenwriter and producer for the films.
“The thing about this is that ‘Taken’ has a grand following already, which makes it challenging and also sort of a privilege,” said Cary about feeling nervous to meet Besson. “He cares deeply about this particular character. We had long conversations about it.”
The next challenge, according to Cary, was finding the right person to fill the role of a young Mills.
“The answer is you cast a great actor,” said Cary. “And he has to be a straight-up lunatic – to do all of the action and to work as hard as we have worked him.”
For Cary, Clive Standen was the right choice. Standen, whose other credits include the History Channel’s original series “Vikings,” said that he wasn’t initially intimidated by taking on such an iconic role.
“The thing is that he’s just a guy,” said Standen. “There’s a lot of action heroes that are almost larger than life. Bryan Mills — he’s just a father trying to find his daughter and do whatever it takes to get her back. It’s very easy to relate to a character like that.”
Standen also said that he hopes the series offers more insight into the character over the course of each episode.
“You want to see this guy trip up, fall over and get back up,” said Standen. “There’s no rush to make him this man with a particular set of skills.”
The series premiere is scheduled to air Monday, Feb. 27.