When SyFy first announced that they were working on a television series based on the Terry Gilliam movie 12 Monkeys, many fans of the original film cried foul. However, at the recent Syfy digital press tour, the TV series' co-executive producer, Travis Fickett, along with series stars Aaron Stanford and Amanda Schull assured the public that the work was in good hands.
Fickett stated that the timing for a series based on 12 Monkeys is perfect. "The audience is ready for a serialized time travel show," said Fickett. "Something that we've always wanted to do. I think the audience is educated now, as to that narrative style." Fickett pointed out that serialization in science fiction is still rare, but that audiences are now craving it.
Stanford takes on the role of Cole in the television series, which was originally played by Bruce Willis in the film. What was it like for him to step into those shoes? "It's such a daunting thing to try to fill the shoes of somebody else, particularly someone like Bruce Willis who played such an iconic role," said Stanford. "I had to push that aside and not think about that and approach it as I do with any other role. I just want to make the character engaging and interesting and real and make him something that the audience can connect to."
Schull, who takes on Madeline Stowe's film role in the series, agreed. "While we are taking on those roles, we are departing from the characters that were in the film," she said . "We're re-imagining them and expanding those characters, so we're not exactly the same people."
Obviously, fans of the 12 Monkeys movie will watch the series with a critical eye. Fickett talked about how the series will go outside of the movie and take a wider view of the story, stating that just doing a television series of the movie wasn't good enough. "We're taking all the elements we loved, the impressions from the film, not the straight checklist of story items," he said. "I think fans will be engaged with what we took and what we expanded and what we changed."
Fickett explained why the television series is in good hands, too. "I'm the biggest fan of the movie," he boasted. "I'll fight anyone who says they're a bigger fan. So yeah, I think people will be happy."
We can expect the pilot episode to stick close to the movie, however. "But it takes a very dramatic turn with episode two," Stanford said.
Schull, who is most known for roles in series like One Tree Hill and Pretty Little Liars, talked about how different the character she now plays on 12 Monkeys is compared to to previous characters she's portrayed. "This has been an incredible gift," she said. "The character is a dream. She's strong and smart. She doesn't back down from a challenge. It's a real honor to be able to play something like that and not a woman who, when confronted with an obstacle, becomes less than."
Schull also finds the time travel aspect of the series fascinating. "The element of time travel and alternate reality is every actor's dream, to be one character on one television show, but to have all these different incarnations of that person. It's very exciting, and hopefully, it will be for audiences, as well."
12 Monkeys premieres on Syfy on Jan. 16, 2015 at 9 p.m. EST.