DIG’s Cast and EPs Discuss the Pilot, the Characters, Future Seasons and More [VIDEO]
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
This 10-part event series starts with a murder, set against the backdrop of modern-day Jerusalem. FBI agent Peter Connelly has left his personal demons behind and takes a job stationed in Israel under ex-lover and new boss Lynn Monahan. Investing the murder of a young American, Peter soon finds himself embroiled in an international mystery that delves into the Holy Land’s darkest secrets. What he discovers is a conspiracy thousands of years in the making that threatens to change the course of history. Â While Peter races to figure out what it all means, he quickly finds that he may not be the only one searching for answers.
TV Goodness has talked to the cast and EPs over the course of the last year at SDCC, the TCAs and on press calls. Below you’ll find their thoughts on their characters, the show’s mythology, what future seasons might look like and more.
On why the EPs wanted to tell this story
Gideon Raff: “Well, one of the things we found out when we started researching this show is that almost every American embassy out there has a legal attachÃ©, which is an FBI agent in charge of investigating crimes against Americans or that have been committed by Americans on foreign soil. And we thought this is a great franchisable character that, through his eyes, we can see different locales and get to know different cultures. That’s why we chose to have Peter be a deputy legal attachÃ©. The legal attachÃ© is actually Anne [Heche], then he is partnered in the show with Golen, who is played by Ori Pfeffer, an Israeli actor. And through that, we see a bit of a cultural clash between the American way of doing things and a more Middle Eastern way of doing things, which we find very fun.”
Tim Kring: “We have many, many Israeli actors in this production. And so I think, for the audience, there’s going to be a real sense that this is a mixture of actors. From someone who has been producing television in Hollywood for many years, you come to see the casting. You see a lot of the same people over and over again. I was absolutely blown away by the depth and the talent pool that’s in that country. And the faces are like something you’ve never seen before. They’re really unique actors. And because of some of Gideon’s relationships, we were able to really get literally some of the best actors, or the best actors in Israel are in this. So the caliber of acting is extraordinary.”
On what future seasons might look like
Tim: “Well, this was always written as a one off. It was designed to be a limited series. But that being said, we also knew in the back of our minds that in success this idea of a legal attachÃ©, is a pretty compelling premise for a franchise.
So we thought about it more as a franchise than as a series. In other words, if it comes back it comes back with a whole new case, a whole new idea to explore and a whole new setting. When this started, we were taking advantage of the country of Israel. [They] really rolled out the red carpet for us. Weâ€™re all seeing that now in production that this is a real possibility where it didnâ€™t used to be, to be able to go and shoot in a really fabulous, exotic location.”
Anne Heche on why she decided to do the series
Anne Heche: “I’m so honored, obviously, to have been given the opportunity to do this show and work with USA. I always like to surprise people with what direction I’m moving and going in. So to be able to do something that has this much compelling story and is so — it’s deep. I like going into these waters and being able to really explore a fantastic dramatic character again. And I haven’t done that in a couple of years, so I’m really thrilled to be doing it.”
On the mythology of the series and who PeterÂ Connelly is
Jason Isaacs: “When I first met to meet Gideon and Tim, I read this thing and I was gripped by it. I’d never heard of the red cow and the various other things that happen. And I said, ‘It’s a fantastic story. Where did you get the ideas from?’ And they said, ‘Well, they’re all true.’ Apart from being gripped by the plot I went to Wikipedia and I found out that there are forces and people and groups in the world who are doing some quite terrifying things. And I don’t think we can avoid saying yes, that some of that comes into the story.
My character, Peter Connelly, is trying to save us all from all kinds of nefarious things. The difficulty in talking about the plot is — the brilliance of their writing is that it reveals things that continually sideswipe you and surprise you. But you’re right in the sense that it deals with global conspiracy and movement of things that started thousands of years ago and are very, very ever-present today. And it’s not that we’re trying to be overly mysterious. It’s just that that’s the joy of watching the show. So we don’t want to give too much away.”
Gideon: “But it’s also about a guy who is grief-stricken and is looking for answers. His life was shattered because of a personal trauma and he has lost his faith. He is dealing with that in the holiest place on Earth. And we thought that would be very interesting.”
Tim: “And the truth is we don’t take necessarily a stand on any of this. This stuff is all out there. There are real prophecies and there are real speculations about this. So our show doesn’t take one position.”
On the backstory of Emma Wilson
Alison Sudol: “There is a lot of mystery to this character and there were a lot of things that I have learned in the process of playing the character. I had a certain amount of information, but the mystery is key.”
On Emma’s relationship with Profession Margrove and working with Richard E. Grant
Alison: “The relationship that plays out through the series. The relationship is complex for sure, but thereâ€™s a lot of admiration there coming from Emma. I mean heâ€™s a very renowned archeologist, a pioneer. Iâ€™m a massive fan of his, massive, to the point where, I still canâ€™t believe it. I sort of made an idiot out of myself the first few times that I saw him because I was trying to be cool and I just kept blurting out how much I loved him.”
On what the expect in the pilot
Alison: “You have these different, seemingly disconnected, storylines that take place in completely different countries. It starts in, I think, Norway, and thereâ€™s a whole storyline in New Mexico,and thereâ€™s Jerusalem. You have all of these very different, very strong, interesting characters and these different situations and theyâ€™re all weaving their way through and yet there seems to be something that draws them all together and you donâ€™t know what that is.
You see very different climates, very different people and yet thereâ€™s this heightened sense of, whatâ€™s the word? I donâ€™t know. Itâ€™s anticipation, or thereâ€™s something happening, somethingâ€™s afoot, with everybody. It’s really intriguing, like you just donâ€™t get all of the answers, which I love. I love mystery, I love questions, I love trying to figure things out and I think thatâ€™s what the show has. Itâ€™s very intelligent and itâ€™s very deep, but itâ€™s also fun to watch.”
On who is the ultimate villain in the series
Jason: “There are all kinds of surprises. Nobody is what they seem and nothing is what it seems — even Peter is not what he seems. The heady atmosphere and the mixture of all the passion and history of [Jerusalem] plays into it all. But to say more than that would be to make it less fun for the audience, I think.”
Tim: “I will say that there are enough villains in this to go around and everybody will see whatever villainy they want to see with the people that we have depicting these characters.”
On why shooting the pilot in Israel was important and what it was like to be there
Gideon: “Jerusalem is a key element in our show. We wanted and chose to shoot the show in Jerusalem because of all the history it has and the secrets underground. Putting in a Da Vinci Code psychological, archaeological thriller in that city gives us a lot of possibilities.”
Tim: “It was absolutely exhilarating to be there. My last two shows that I did, Heroes and Touch, both relied extraordinarily heavily on creating worlds that weren’t really here in Los Angeles, where we shot the show. We did scenes [for Heroes] in Tokyo and Paris and Africa and we never left a 35-mile radius of our office. We created everything with green screens and set extensions and CG and all that stuff. So the ability to actually go someplace and set up a shot and point your camera in a direction and see the world was so fantastic. And literally the number of extraordinary locations that have never been seen before on television, it was just a huge honor to be able to do that.”
Anne: “I don’t think you could say anything more eloquently. I felt the same exact way. I was just in awe. It’s such a beautiful, beautiful place to be. Every turn you take leads you into another extraordinary space just filled with an incredible energy of history and love and passion. It’s one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been. It was incredible.”
Tim: “I’ve never been on a set where people literally turned to one another constantly and said, ‘Can you believe this?'”
Jason: “It’s not just that it’s gorgeous. It’s that every civilization that there’s been — for thousands of years, every empire — has always wanted this tiny, tiny piece of land, this square mile. When you’re shooting night shots, as we did often, and the sun comes up and starts glistening off the Dome of the Rock and you’re running on the rooftops or you’re emerging from a tunnel or a cave underneath it, you can feel the combined history of these millions of people over the years that have fought. You see the Hasidic Jews and the Imams and the Ethiopian Christians waking up and the city comes to life, the smells of it. The call to prayer comes out. It’s heady stuff. Whether you’re a believer or not a believer, there’s the Via Dolorosa there and there’s the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Jerusalem is what’s called an Earth navel, an Earth belly button. It’s where the lay lines cross. And I don’t believe in any of that stuff until I’m standing in Jerusalem. You can just feel all of it and it plays into how people go about their business. It plays into their eyes. It plays into the crew and the passion with which you shoot it. It’s inseparable from the story that we tell. And it’s the reason they chose to set it there, because this is a story, in some ways, about fanaticism as well.”
Edited for space and content.
DIG premieres Thursday, March 5th at 10/9c on USA Network.
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