Sonoya Mizuno, Karl Glusman, and Jin Ha’s characters – Lily, Sergei, and Jamie – are engaged in a complicated love triangle in FX Network and Hulu’s limited series, Devs. During our roundtable interview at the New York Comic-Con, Glusman revealed something drastic happens early on to his character and that sets off a chain of events that play out over the eight-episode season of writer/director Alex Garland’s thought-provoking sci-fi drama.
“Lily’s looking for what happened to Sergei. At one point it’s clear that she needs help outside of the local authorities or the people at the company. She enlists the help of her ex-boyfriend to find her current boyfriend which creates a very awkward scene,” explained Glusman.
Jin Ha joked that maybe what they’re actually part of is a love tesseract. (Coincidentally, The Tesseract is the name of a novel by Alex Garland.) “We’re dealing with a difference of time and space sometimes,” teased Ha. “No, I think that’s absolutely right that it’s a love triangle. Also because even though he’s not physically present after the first episode, he is figuratively and thematically present the entire rest of the series because it’s in pursuit of finding out the truth behind Sergei’s disappearance that drives us. As the ex who’s begrudgingly…well, maybe not begrudgingly…but at first hesitant to help Lily, that’s an enormously heavy cloud that weighs on Jamie. For me, it’s like how much do I care about Lily more than the fact that I don’t care for Sergei – the man that’s taken over the role that I had emotionally?”
Asked how Alex Garland articulated the show’s bigger themes, Sonoya Mizuno replied, “The thing about Alex is he’s obviously incredibly smart, but he’s also so capable of explaining things really articulately which made it kind of easier for us to understand the complicated themes. But also, it’s in the writing. The themes maybe are high concept but it’s not like it’s really difficult to understand in the script because it’s so elegantly part of the story.”
“Also, at its core the piece is about relationships and loss and love,” offered Glusman. “Those are the things that I think most viewers will be able to attach themselves to, relate to. There’s still things I can’t wrap my head around while I was hanging around for seven months. But the relationships – that’s the stuff that affects me.”
Ha added, “I think the high concept themes or the subject matter is incredibly specific, is incredibly well researched and well written. I might be going out on a limb by saying this but ultimately it is the context in which stories about relationships takes place. I don’t think Alex is trying to necessarily teach the audience about this technology or this world of tech, it’s more just it is an incredibly thoroughly couched love story or a story about what motivates somebody or what fears people have. Just more human stories is couched very thoroughly in an incredibly complicated and almost esoteric universe of tech.”
Sonoya Mizuno previously starred in Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Annihilation, and was happy to reunite with Garland for this ambitious miniseries. Discussing her character, Mizuno said she appreciated the fact Lily isn’t a typical protagonist. “She’s not sassy and badass…”
Both Glusman and Ha begged to differ with that assessment. “She’s pretty badass,” said Ha.
“I mean, she is but she’s not badass in the way that like she doesn’t wear a superhero cape,” explained Mizuno. “She’s brave and she’s resourceful. And, she’s reserved and very internal. We wanted it to feel like there’s kind of a mystery around her, which isn’t typical for a character like that because usually the audience is with them in their head the whole time. So, I was really excited to play something which felt different and felt like it was challenging what a female protagonist is.”
Ha admitted it took him a while to figure out his character, Jamie. “I had prepared as much as I could actually beforehand, before the start of rehearsals, before we started shooting. But frankly it was probably after the first quarter of shooting at which point I had this… I met with Alex one late night and we had had like an hour, hour and a half discussion about Jamie and how he fits into the world and the tone of the show. That conversation was kind of the first time I was like, ‘Oh, this is who this person is,’ because I had had an idea of the tone and the genre of this series without realizing that Alex had intentionally written Jamie as kind of a foil, emotionally.”
Glusman initially wasn’t sure what to make of Sergei. “I didn’t have much information and he was like some nerd on the page. But then I remember our chemistry read and then Alex told me a secret about my character that made it infinitely more exciting. I had no idea and I feel like I’m not allowed to say…”
Mizuno and Ha immediately agreed he couldn’t spill the beans on the particular little gem Alex Garland revealed that helped Glusman grasp Sergei.
To learn Glusman’s little secret, audiences will need to tune in and pay attention when Devs premieres on March 5, 2020 on Hulu.