2019 NEW YORK COMIC CON: The characters of the upcoming Hulu series “Reprisal” sure know how to make an entrance. A suave gangster who leaves getting a beatdown with a cool confident strut. A sultry dancer who hypnotizes an entire burlesque club crowd with a wink of her eye. A beautiful femme fatale who effortlessly takes a punch without even smearing her makeup before delivering some damage of her own. These are just a few of the residents that fill the world of “Reprisal” with just about as much style and attitude as the small screen can contain.
We had the opportunity to speak with the cast and creators (video interview below) as well as watch the pilot episode during this year’s NYCC. The 10-year labor of love from show creator Josh Corbin, and legendary executive producer Warren Littlefield (“A Handmaid’s Tale”) conveys some action-packed swagger. The show does not pull any punches. It quickly immerses viewers into a world of moody music, neon lights, classic cars, guns, gangs, and bright red lipstick. “Reprisal” is an ambitious, cinematic roller-coaster ride that checks off all the boxes needed to become TV’s next big thing!
DORIS IS COMING
As Doris, Abigail Spencer (“Rectify”) is the femme fatale on the hunt for some well-deserved revenge after horrible mistreatment by her family. For reasons unknown, her brother and his gang of gearheads drag her through a field and leave her for dead. (With a family like that who needs enemies?) We follow Doris as she tracks down those who wronged her, meeting an array of distinctively original characters along the way. It all contributes to this neo-noir web of mystery that inventively mashes up genres and eras.
While the show exudes style, it certainly does not lack in substance. Executive Producer Warren Littlefield finds the themes quite accessible. “At its core [“Reprisal”] is about family. A family that seeks to destroy each other. And the family that you build in order to survive and thrive. There will be themes that will be recognizable. It’s quite universal, actually.” The show promises to explore some dysfunctional family dynamics, from the family you are born into to family you find along the way.
ALL THAT AND A BAG OF PRETZELS
One thing is for sure: this is not your typical straightforward storytelling. The time-bending storylines twist around and back into each other like a pretzel. As the plots unfold, their interwoven relationships and connections are revealed in unique fashions.
Corbin spoke about how the intentionally confusing aspect of “Reprisal” allows for more creative freedom. “We’re creating this world that is era ambiguous in a lot of ways. It is a show about these characters reckoning with their past, and kind of chasing down their past and having to deal with the sins of their past.” He also addressed the disorientating nature of the show, “We create a sense of we don’t exactly know where we are, we don’t know when we are — finding a fun way to let that play into the themes of the show. We draw upon all different aspects of 20th-century pop culture.”
A SOLID LEAD
After seeing her work in “Rectify” both Corbin and Littlefield were sold on their lead, Abigail Spencer. In what looks to be the darkest role of her career, Spencer’s Doris is at the center of this vast puzzle. She may look harmless at first, but carries an aura of mystique. She is just as comfortable turning heads as she is pounding them.
Spencer spoke about the expansive elements of the series. “They laid out the tone, the look of this world and everything else. It was kind of like, I am part of this painting, so how do I fit in with the larger scope? Because it is a large world and a lot of characters don’t cross paths until a lot later in the storytelling,” said Spencer. “We did a lot of experimenting because we want to be inspired by the film and the noir and the femme fatale aspects but we’re trying to create something new. It’s really inspiring because not a lot of people get this opportunity on television.”
While Doris may be connecting the thread throughout this sweeping world, “Reprisal” promises to tell many tales at once. Several cast members surprisingly compared it to “Game of Thrones” for that reason. “All the characters have their own stories,” explained Rodrigo Santoro (“Westworld”) who plays Joel, a gang leader who is a father to a young daughter. “They are so interesting. You can make a movie about any one of them.”
Spencer touched upon her epiphany about the show’s core themes in relation to the characters. “We’ve really been selling this as a revenge story, after watching it now, it really may be a redemption story. That’s an interesting thing with all the characters. Everyone is trying to find where their future is going to right a wrong.” She continued, “When something happens to you, when you are so broken, what’s the strongest thing that you can do? It’s to rebuild yourself and try to change your future.”
David Dastmalchian (“Blade Runner 2049″), who plays the smooth, charismatic Johnson, describes his feelings when first reading the script. “I feel like the script is dripping with the material. When I first read the script, I freaked out. I never read anything like this before and I know there’s never been anything like this on television before.”
He continued to enthusiastically explain his reaction, “I said to Josh when I got to meet him, ‘this feels like David Lynch is driving a hot rod and Quentin Tarantino is driving another and they are going to crash into each other (using hand motions of two cars crashing to get his point across). It’s going to be freaking amazing.'”
A THING OF BEAUTY
The show’s hyper-stylized cinematography demands your attention — especially during the premiere’s mesmerizing one minute-forty second oner. (A oner, or long take, is an uninterrupted take that moves throughout the scene without any cuts). In this scene we follow Meredith (Madison Davenport, “Sharp Objects”) as she struts through the rowdy burlesque club, peeling off layers of clothing along the way. The camera winds around patrons, through doorways, and up staircases in one continuous movement. It is just one example of the bold visual approach that will certainly define the show.
The cast also includes plenty of familiar faces Ron Perlman (“Hellboy”), Mena Massoud (“Aladdin”), Rhys Wakefield (“The Purge”), and Gilbert Owuor (“Goliath”). Each of their characters will certainly make some noise of their own. We cannot wait to meet them all.
Exclusive interviews and the brand new trailer can be found below.