[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
With nine episodes down and one to go of EPIX’s From, I checked in with series creator and showrunner John Griffin to chat about the first season and hopefully, the seasons to come. Here’s part one of our conversation.
First up, there’s no formal greenlight for a second season, but they’re hopeful. “All signs point towards a good feeling that we will be getting to play once more,” Griffin says.
The common thread for all the characters is that they wound up here on their way to somewhere else and suddenly the lives they had before are rendered irrelevant to their current situation. Griffin says the idea for the show was seeded in the aftermath of 9/11.
“That was the first time, for me, that I realized that there is no permanence to the world that we live in. There is no permanence to these constructs that we invest in and that we rely on,” he explains.
“I remember in the aftermath, people, myself included, were looking around, walking around, [asking], ‘Well, what does everything mean now? What do I do?’ And later on, looking back on that experience, I realized that, like so many other people, I had yet to go on that journey of self-discovery that would’ve allowed me to say, even in the absence of all that, even as the world falls apart, ‘This is still who I am.'”
“It was that moment in our lives that we all experienced differently. Sometimes it’s the loss of a loved one, where your entire world has shattered. And yet the rest of the world, other people, are still paying bills and buying coffee.”
While fans have floated their own theories of what it’s all about, Griffin says he and his producing team, Jack Bender and Jeff Pinkner, know where the show will ultimately end up (provided we see more seasons), but they’ve kept that close to the vest, even with their cast.
“We never like to get beyond what the characters themselves know. One of the first conversations that I had with Harold [Perinneau] was to tell him what happened in episode eight and what happened with his wife, how his wife actually died,” Griffin shares.
“That was really important for him to know, because his character had already been through that. He also had plenty of questions about what this place is and I said, ‘Well, I can’t tell you that because your character doesn’t know.'”
“We know exactly where the show is going. We have always known. It was very important. It’s hard to start a road trip without knowing what your destination is. It’s fine to take unexpected or unintended stops along the way and allow yourself to be surprised, but a show like this is very much a contract with the audience.”
“You guys are investing your time. We’re all fans of TV. It’s one of the wonderful things about the community that sprung up around the show. We feel the same way about the show as you guys do.””What I will say is that when all is ultimately revealed, no one is going to have that feeling they had when you walk in and Patrick Duffy is in the shower and the whole last season of Dallas was just a dream.”
This season, I’ve been so fortunate to chat with eight of From‘s cast, who were and are all gem humans, and Griffin agrees they have a fantastic bunch, at all levels in front of the camera and behind the scenes. “Usually when you have an ensemble, there’s a weak link in the chain, and we just don’t have that, from top to bottom. And it’s not just our cast. It’s our crew, it’s our press office, it’s the people we’re working with at EPIX,” he points out.
“On a personal level, and I’m sure if you asked Jack or Jeff, they’d probably say the same, one of my goals was to a) have this be a show that people love to watch and b) almost to some degree as important or maybe more importantly, have it be a show that people love to work on.”
“We don’t get a lot of time on this earth and you spend a lot of time making a TV show, so make it something that you enjoy and where you can look back on the process as fondly as you do the end result. And a lot of that is due to the wonderful people that we work with.”
The series is Griffin’s first, and he says it’s everything he could have wanted and so much more. “[The show] is everything that I imagined when the first seeds took root, made so much better by the wonderful people that I have had the privilege of working with, starting with my partners, Jack and Jeff, extending to Matt Likely, our brilliant production designer,” he says.
“Somehow he made the exact town that we all had in our heads. And yet with surprising things we never would’ve thought of, like something as simple as ‘Hey, why don’t we make the sheriff’s station an old post office?’ or ‘Why don’t we make the clinic an old school?’ Little things like that [all the way to the] larger details.”
“When you work with brilliant, smart, caring people, things always get better. The development process with Jeff and then later with Jack and the three of us sort of becoming this creative triumvirate as we like to call it…people in production call us the three Js…if you think about every bad cliche that you could imagine when it comes to making television, this is the complete opposite of all of them.”
“I think it was Jeff who said in the beginning, ‘Let’s have one rule, no egos. Let’s all make good TV with people that we enjoy making good TV with.'”
The From season finale airs Sunday at 9 pm/8c on EPIX, when it will also stream online at EPIX’s website. You can catch up on the first eight episodes there, through the EPIX app, and through EPIX on Prime Video. Our previous coverage is here.
Check back for my season finale preview, and after the episode Sunday night, for more of my conversation with John Griffin and Harold Perrineau.
[Updated 09/26/22: From will be available in Canada on Paramount+ beginning 09/27/22.
Photos Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
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