Next week marks the premiere of Colony, the latest science fiction drama from maven Carlton Cuse. Starring the creator’s fellow Lost vet Josh Holloway alongside The Walking Dead‘s Sarah Wayne Callies, the first episode of Colony is currently available to watch early and for free. We’ve been officially hooked since we had the chance to talk to series co-creator and television dynamo Cuse about reteaming with Holloway, the real life influences for the science fiction drama, and just who or what, exactly, is responsible for the fictionalized occupation of Los Angeles.
It’s a real sign of a connection when actors and writers choose to collaborate with each other over and over again. Such is the case with Carlton Cuse and Josh Holloway, who ever since having worked together on Lost have been looking to do it again. “Josh [Holloway] has been in my sights for the last few years. We’ve had conversations back and forth since Lost about doing something together,” says Cuse, and apparently, the time was finally right. “Ryan [Condal] and I had just finished the script and Josh was at that moment in time deciding, ‘Look, I’m going to try to find something to do in television.’ And he’d been offered a ton of stuff and I think it was the right project at the right time.”
Cuse feels as special kinship with Holloway, who played the hot-heated Sawyer on the island series. “There’s a measure of trust of having worked together. He knew that he could trust me to deliver a show that would be good and that would fit what he does and what he wanted to do and vice versa,” Cuse says. “Josh was really one of my favorite people on Lost, and we became good friends, and it was just one of my dreams that we would be able to do something together.”
Also responsible for Bates Motel, and The Strain, Cuse is duly well known for making compelling television. So what kinds of shows does the writer find himself attracted to? “I think the thing that I find myself drawn to as a storyteller is cross genre storytelling,” he says. “I love the idea of taking things and putting them together in new ways. I think Lost was an action adventure show with science fiction. Bates Motel is a romantic tragedy with a pulpy crime noir overlay and I think Colony is a espionage show with a science fiction overlay and that is a really interesting combination. I think the idea of trying to take conventions of different genres and seeing if you can put them together in new and exciting ways is sort of what creatively interests me.”
Would Cuse say that Colony has many similarities to the previous Holloway starring hit? “It’s a different type of storytelling than Lost. There is some mystery, and those mysteries will be unfolded, but it’s really not about solving some mystery of understanding,” Cuse says. “It’s really about how are these characters going to survive in this upended and perilous world that they live in.” He added, laughing, “I think one of the lessons I learned on Lost is to not try to make rules. And if you make rules, don’t tell them to the press. You could be called on them later.”
Speaking about Colony, Cuse is quick to point out—as did the stars of the series—that the drama, while it may seem extraordinary, is in a lot of ways grounded in reality. “One of the things that had always fascinated me was this incongruity of Nazi-occupied Paris,” he explains. “There were these incredible images of people sitting at sidewalk cafes leading normal lives, well-dressed [and] drinking espressos, while Nazi Storm Troopers went by on the street. I think it was something that Ryan and I connected to and we were wondering, ‘Is there a way to find a modern analog from that?'” Cuse continues, “That was kind of the core idea that we built the show from. Is it possible to do an alien invasion show, but to subvert all of the expectations of the genre? The last thing anyone needs is another version of the straight up invasion show like V or Falling Skies. So instead, we filtered it through the metaphor of, ‘What is occupation really like?'”
Cuse admits that the series wouldn’t be banking on a big extraterrestrial reveal: “It was like… okay, yeah, there’s an alien invasion, but that’s not what the show is about. We’re not really showing the aliens at all. We’re dealing with the human component.” When the question comes upon regarding whether or not the occupying forces are truly aliens, Cuse smiles. “We are hiding if they’re even aliens. I’m using aliens in reference to the Falling Skies, V thing. That’s part of the mystery, who are these people? I don’t want to speculate. You can speculate.”
And speculate we shall. But does this mean that for however long the series will run, we’ll never learn the truth about the mysterious captors of the human race? Much like Holloway and Callies’ characters, we’ll be uncovering details in bits and pieces. “I mean, you will learn who the occupiers are, and that’s not what the show’s about. It’s really just about them learning it as the same speed as the characters. It’s not that that’s the narrative intention. The narrative intention is, ‘Can this family survive?’ It’s just as simple s that. And it’s metaphoric. Will they survive as a family?” Cuse continues, “You have this family which is inherently fractured by the different wants of the main characters so will they survive as a family and will they simply survive in a world that’s very perilous. That’s what the show is about.”
Colony premieres on USA on Thursday, January 14, 2016.
Featured Image Credit: Wikicommons/ Ewen Roberts
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