Writer/executive producer Max Borenstein, executive producer Darryl Frank, and executive producer Kevin Falls teamed up at the San Diego Comic Con to talk about the new sci-fi series Minority Report debuting on Fox on September 21, 2015. Minority Report, based on the 2002 movie that starred Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell, is set in 2065 and features Stark Sands, Meagan Good, Nick Zano, Wilmer Valderrama, and Laura Regan. During our roundtable interview, the creative minds behind the series discussed the show’s technology, the premise, the characters, and the moral issues raised in both the film and on the TV show it inspired.
How does the TV series expand on the world of the sci-fi movie?
Max Borenstein: “The show takes place 10 years after the film leaves off. It’s in the same world but we’re following the perspective of the three precogs who were at the center of the Precrime program, but they were in a milk bath hooked up to computers the whole time. In the film Tom Cruise’s character, Anderton, liberates one of them, Agatha, from the milk bath and that’s this incredibly memorable part of the movie because she’s essentially an adult fetus. She had very little life experience other than seeing the future murders before they happen. And then at the end of the film, the last shot of the film has the three precogs sitting in a cabin where they’ve been sent anonymously and in essentially witness protection reading books and learning about humanity. They’re there far from the world because the closer they are to people, the more they get those visions. So we say, ‘What happened next? What happens when you’re one of those precogs? Do you stay on the island? Do you come back to the city?’ That’s really where we pick up.”
Will the series feature all of the precogs from the movie?
Max Borenstein: “Dashiell and Arthur were twins and Dash is sort of our main point of view, but Arthur and Agatha as well are key pieces in the show. Each of them has a very different way that they live with that gift.”
Do the precogs have the same abilities?
Kevin Falls: “Agatha stayed on the island so she has her own story and her own power. She’s probably the most powerful of the three. Arthur and Dash are in the same city and so they each have a point of view, which [Max] can speak to.”
Max Borenstein: “One of the big things when we were thinking about it is obviously when they were all together they were like a hive-mind. They talk about it in the film and they talk about Agatha as having been the strongest. They work like an antenna but when you separate them the question is how do they differentiate in those years out of the milk bath and after Precrime? And so we started talking about it and Dash gets this sort of visual component of the future vision. He gets kind of fragmented imagery in a sort of haunting, emotional stuff that’s difficult to make sense of but that’s a horrible thing to have to experience in the world. If you remember in the film they also get the names of the murderer and the victim, and so his brother gets that kind of information: names, factual information. It’s not as assaultive to him and as a result Dash is this kind of open wound walking around the world whereas his brother has an easier time acclimating and having social interactions. He has this sort of predictive ability that makes him Sherlock Holmes on steroids. And, ironically enough, Arthur the character is named after Arthur Conan Doyle. So, we get to really play with that stuff. And then Agatha is the strongest because she has what both her brothers kind of bring to the table. They’re two halves of a whole and she has a more emotional and intuitive understanding of what’s going to be happening, what’s going to happen in the future. And so it really when we eventually, perhaps, bring the three of them together it’s going to be a crazy thing.”
How did you decide on the approach of focusing on the precogs for the TV series?
Kevin Falls: “I have an overall deal with Fox and they said to me a year ago, ‘Here’s a project we want to do: Minority Report.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, I want to do that.’ And I would have done the lame remake with Anderton played by god knows who. And then I heard, ‘Max Borenstein, the guy who wrote Godzilla, he did it.’ And I heard his take and I’m like, ‘That’s great. That’ so genius.”
Max Borenstein: “I was going to sit down with these guys at Amblin and talk about it, and I was really excited about the idea because I remember loving the film so much but I hadn’t seen it in a few years. So I got it, I sat down and started watching it. The whole way I was thinking this is great but if you just do Precrime, it’s a straight procedural that feels like we’ve now seen it, and we’ve seen it because people have been copying Minority Report ever since. But we’ve seen it now before so I’m like, ‘What’s fresh? What’s a new way to do that?’ And then you get to that last shot of the movie and it goes Precrime’s over, the precogs have been liberated, they’ve been sent into anonymity. The people who committed those future murders have been released, and people still sort of watch them. And you go, ‘Wow, that’s a really interesting world. What’s it like to be them?’ And so it’s not until the end of the movie…I was like pulling my hair out like, ‘Uh-oh, what am I going to say?’ And that’s the movie right there – that’s the whole movie.”
Will the show address the moral dilemma of arresting people prior to an actual crime being committed?
Max Borenstein: “What’s interesting for us is that whereas that was a bureaucratic system run by a police force with laws where you could just be dragged off the street for something you didn’t know you were ever going to do, we’re now putting this in the hands of Dashiell who was one of the precogs who’s now…he has to illegally and on his own try to act on his visions. He has no infrastructure, no political infrastructure, no judicial infrastructure. He teams up on the underground with a cop and they have to wrestle with those moral dilemmas themselves. What do you do when you know someone is going to be a murderer but you have no evidence? Could you confront them? Can you scare them off? Do you follow them? What if you get it wrong? Are you using the victim as bait? Is that your job? On the other hand, can you play god? And so those kind of ethical dilemmas really become the heart of our show.”
Darryl Frank: “What happens when you stop one murder but it causes three others? So there’s a really rich area to play with. And also so timely in terms of privacy and security and what you trade for one to have the other.”
Max Borenstein: “Another thing we talk about with the characters is that with Precrime they were isolated and a SWAT team basically went and acted on their visions. Now, the precogs themselves – or in our case, Dash – he’s acting on those visions and the others are doing it in their own way. But when he intersects the timeline in the path of something that’s going to happen, it makes it messier. That’s why he can’t see his own future. Their own future is a blindspot and is impossible to predict, so it gives these great… Even though you say, ‘We know a murder is going to happen,’ it’s filled with surprises.”
The film featured some impressive futuristic technology. Does the series?
Max Borenstein: “That’s a huge part and we feel a real great responsibility following in the footsteps of the movie to push those boundaries. Steven Spielberg talked to panels of experts in every sort of area of science and social science to figure out what the world is going to look like 50 years from now and try to stay as grounded as he could. The proof is in the pudding because you watch that movie still and we now have gesture interfaces; we now have targeted advertising. And we’ve done the same. We have an expert at the MIT Media Lab who’s put together a panel of experts, Pulitzer Prize winners, an amazing guy I’m convinced is going to win the Nobel Prize. They’ve talked to us and done a little private podcast for our writers just like, ‘Here’s what genetics are going to look like. Here’s what drone technology, robotic technology, soft robotics…’ It’s really insane. We just take that as inspiration and say, ‘How are we going to solve the problems of today in a different way in the future?’ That’s where you get the wit and humor. It’s not just about technology. It’s about the humor that you remember from the movie when he walks in and they’re advertising… He puts someone else’s eyes in and they’re Asian, it’s like, ‘Hi, Mr. Nagatomi. It’s time to get a new pair of underwear from the Gap.’ And so we have some fun stuff that we play with where he sits down in the train – Dash sits down in the train and the window next to him lights up and starts talking to him with an advertisement, but it’s an advertisement for essentially a Starbucks that sells pot brownies. They’re saying, ‘Come for our new Wake and Bake treats!’ So we did have fun thinking about the future technology and also other things that change.”
Watch the full interview with Max Borenstein, Kevin Falls and Darryl Frank on Fox’s Minority Report:
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