Creator and star of the hit NBC series discuss the future of this new drama
The Event just started up on NBC and there is certainly a lot of buzz surrounding the mysterious conspiracy at the heart of this new drama. Series creator Nick Wauters and star Ian Anthony Dale, who portrays Simon Lee, recently held a conference call to discuss upcoming episodes and here's what they had to say:
If should get a cancellation notice before the central mystery is resolved is there a way to sort of tack on a final episode that would resolve all the plot lines or do you really need to finish out the season and go into Season 2 in order to finish?
Nick Wauters: That's a great question. You know I've really planned out what Season 1 should be and how we're going to continue into Season 2. There's a plan for that kind of defines how each piece of the puzzle fits together. But I think right now we're doing really well and, fingers crossed, it's going to continue. But my hope is that if we were to eventually get a cancellation before we can solve any stories or before its time that we could get that extra episode to wrap up story lines. So that's definitely something that I would want to do. I'm frustrated sometimes when I follow a serialized show and then it gets pulled and you never get any of your answers. So I understand the frustration and you don't want to invest all this time if you're not going to get a resolution at the end. So we'll do our best to do that if it happens.
On the logo, one of the things that we always see is when they flash the logo on the screen the second E in The Event flips over backwards. Is that any sort of representation about something in the series or symbolic of something in the series, something we should sort of look at as a clue? Or is simply an artistic flourish?
Nick Wauters: Actually I can't really tell you. It's one of those mysteries so maybe it actually does mean something. But definitely our graphic designers do an amazing job and you know there may be something to that.
Has The Event changed much from your original pitch to NBC, if so what changes did the network ask you to make that you incorporated into the series?
Nick Wauters: The original pitch was based on a spec script that was written four and a half years ago, but when NBC looked at it and decided to buy it last fall the one change that they wanted to make is they asked me if I would be open to adding a small element of science fiction which I didn't have before. And I'm very much into sci-fi, I'm kind of a big sci-fi geek and so for me that was actually very, very exciting and I jumped on the opportunity, went away and the pilot itself, the characters are you know pretty much the way they were before. The way the pilot is structured is pretty much the same but it's really the bible of the show and what happens next, that's what I spent a lot of time working on during the development process. Because of that added element of science fiction and again it's definitely there but it's only one of the many elements that make up the fabric of our show.
What I have read is that you intend to wrap up the central mystery of what is The Event early in Season 2, you know hoping and praying that it gets to Season 2. And you'll wrap it up early then rather than dragging it out for five or six years. Is there any concern on your part that once you do wrap up the central mystery that the audience will sort of feel satisfied that they got their answers and simply tune out? I mean what do you plan to do on your end to keep the audience glued to that TV after that central mystery is resolved?
Nick Wauters: Oh right. Well I've always imagined and designed The Event itself as it's a seminal event that will affect the characters and the world in which they live. And it's something that will happen early on in the life of the series. We haven't picked exactly when but it's not going to be the end all. So you're going to follow our characters before The Event, during The Event and after The Event. So in a way like I'm hoping that you know the mysteries, the sub mysteries we set up along the way will capture the attention of our audience, but also our characters. I mean I really hope people respond to our characters and in the end that's why they'll tune in, just to find out you know what happens to our characters, whether it's before, during or after The Event.
Ian, you didn't get to talk at all so some of the other actors have talked about how they know what The Event is already and they're sworn to secrecy and a few others say no, they don't know what The Event is. What's your story?
Well can you tell me like is it a good thing, a bad thing, is it hard to keep it secret even for cast members, from managers, publicists, friends, family?
Ian Anthony Dale: Well you know what's kind of neat is that being kind of sworn to secrecy falls in line with the character Simon Lee that I'm playing. You know he's a guy that has to keep secrets, lives a double life. And so it's kind of practice for the character and I'm actually kind of enjoying that aspect of it. So no, it's not that hard to keep the secret. It was at first you know because it's so exciting and you want to tell everybody because it's so cool but you know over time and with practice it becomes a lot easier. So I'm pretty hard to crack at this point in time.
You guys did really well in the ratings, but are you at all worried Nick that people might have trouble you know feeling like they missed the boat because they didn't get in right away?
Nick Wauters: You know I'm hoping they don't, we're actually you know now people are talking about it, it's going to - the pilot is going to air again many, many times in the next couple of weeks. It's available online so hopefully people who really hear about it and want to check it out will be able to watch the pilot and then follow the show. But in a way like even if you don't see the first episode, just watching the second episode to me, Sean Walker the character is so relatable in a way it's just this regular guy, could be you know any of us. And he gets sucked into this giant conspiracy and he just really wants to you know make sense of it and find his girlfriend. And I think you kind of hook - like people get hooked by that feeling. And hopefully you'll just be able to follow Sean and not be confused by the set up from the pilot.
Nick, earlier this summer you promised answers and I would like to say after watching Episodes 2 and three last night you certainly delivered on that my friend. It's almost jarring, I'm used to lingering frustrating mysteries so you know I'm a huge Lost fan and I read about it for years and I really enjoyed and was very surprised by what was revealed. And I really thought Episode 3 was extremely tight and you got your pacing down and it just - it felt almost like a little bit of a movie. Is that pattern going to continue, the action, the mysteries being resolved but also introducing new ones?
Nick Wauters: Yeah, that's pretty much the goal that we've set for ourselves, you know to try and whatever mysteries we set up try and solve them pretty quickly so that again the audience can join the party at any time. And also you don't frustrate people. I mean I always say we want to keep our audience hungry but not frustrate them. So it's definitely a model that we want to continue and you know it's action, mystery and interesting characters is really the three things that we're aiming for.
How close are you modeled after our current administration? Do you think the US government is in the series if you think that it is at all and why would you choose to do that either way?
Nick Wauters: When I originally wrote the pilot was four and a half years ago so our government was very different than what it is now. And the situation, political situation of the country was very different. But in a way it still translates and applies to what's going on today. Some people have said that the character of Martinez is inspired by Obama and actually really he isn't because I created the character you know way before actually knew who Obama was. So we're actually trying not to connect ourselves too much with what's happening in current events really. There are certain messages that you know I want to get across as are certain ideals that Martinez really cares for. But it's a bipartisan, it's the first bipartisan ticket and so each of them is from a different party and that's one of the differences that kind of defines the dynamics of their administration. I think of our President and Vice President there, their white house is different, very different from what we have our real world right now.
I know it's only been on once but there's already kind of lots of theories sort of floating around as to you know what happened at the end of the pilot and things like that. I'm curious if either of you have heard anything in particular that sticks out in your mind as you know sort of really out there.
Ian Anthony Dale: I don't know about you Nick but I do my best not to read any of the blogs. Because you know sometimes they don't have very nice things to say, so I'm going to stay away from that, but you can take this one Nick.
Nick Wauters: Yeah, I probably shouldn't because you can get sucked into it, but I try to keep in touch with the fans online and read as much of the feedback as I can. You know there's a little bit of everything but as far as theories I've read, yeah, some things that are really kind of out there and I have to say I still haven't read anything where anyone who's actually guessed what The Event is going to be. But there are some really interesting theories floating out there.
Yeah we were getting everything from aliens to time travelers to time traveling aliens, you know.
Nick Wauters: There's a lot of different things. And I think people are trying to guess also the difference, I mean there's you know the question of who the detainees are which is actually you know something that will be answered in the second episode. But that's really a minor, in the grand scheme of the show, that's a minor detail and you know The Event is really something much bigger, something that will happen, something big that will take place.
Nick Wauters: I don't know, like I said some crazy stuff out there so you never know. But we pull out a lot of imagination, that's for sure.
Ian Anthony Dale: That's for sure.
You've been gathering a lot of great reviews and people have been comparing it quite heavily to Lost and 24. Do you want to be bigger than Lost and 24?
Nick Wauters: Do I want to be bigger than Lost and 24? I think I wouldn't mind being bigger than Lost and 24. I mean you know I can only - I'm a big fan of both shows and I can only hope that we can be that we can have - only have the impact that those two shows had. You know they were fantastic shows, so you know definitely something to aspire to, but yes, if I could, if I had a magic wand I would definitely try and make us bigger than those shows. Why not?
I would like to ask what has been the biggest challenge of filming The Event so far?
Ian Anthony Dale: I'll start this and you can finish it but for me on the you know on the production end of things and the shooting, we have some very ambitious scripts that we're trying to shoot in eight days. And ideally you know we could use eighteen days per episode so one of the challenges is trying to fit everything into those eight days. And so it's kind of running and gunning. But the product is definitely looking great. So that's what I'm experiencing as the challenges.
Nick Wauters: Yeah, on the production side it's definitely you know now that we're up and running the challenge is to keep coming up with the best scripts and stories that we can every week. And I mean we're doing our best to make them you know as good as movies and so that involves a lot of special effects and I mean there's so many aspects, so many different elements that are involved that it ends up being this giant machine. So we're right in the middle of it and the challenge is to keep making sure that we're doing our best and delivering the best stories possible, you know and delivering things on time so it's juggling those two things.
Ian Anthony Dale: Yeah, and not sacrificing quality.
Nick Wauters: Exactly.
Ian Anthony Dale: Because that's so important to maintain that and the great stories and I think we're succeeding in that. And you know we've just got to keep it up.
In this day and age, how hard is it to create a series and keep so many secrets?
Nick Wauters: So far, as far as the secrets it's been - it hasn't been too complicated I think. We have a pretty tight knit group and I think everybody's really excited about the show and understands that you know the secrets and the reveals are part of what's going to make the show exciting for our audience. So far it hasn't really been an issue. You know I know other shows in the past have had that problem and it could definitely happen to us. But right now I think the system we have in place seems to be working.
Ian Anthony Dale: The prospect of losing your job if you let a secret out is a pretty effective deterrent. But no, especially with social media these days and Twitter and Facebook and you know it's so easy for a little secret to get out there and spread like wildfire. But yeah, we've been able to do a really good job of keeping everything under wraps and you know it's important. Because like Nick said, you know the show is predicated on revealing secrets and we don't want to spoil it for anybody.
How do you go about writing an episode of The Event? I mean for example do you sit there and say okay I need to have this particular series of plot points happen in this episode and then carry them over to the next? Or do you just try to plan things out based on your characters and what they're going to be doing?
Nick Wauters: Basically we have you know for all our Season 1 planned out so - and we stay flexible, if there's a story that becomes more interesting than we thought then we'll take a look into or indefinitely follow it. But you know we usually look at our big plan and then break down each episode by what characters are in the episode, what they're doing and where they start and where they need to end up in that episode. So part of it is the character stories and then on top of that we try to add a smaller story that is specific to that episode, more self contained. So that's kind of the - that's been our - the way we've been working so far.
Nick, as we've discussed a little bit already, for better or worse the internet has given us access to instant online criticism. So I'd like to hear a little bit more about your relationship with fan reaction, specifically as someone who's written for several shows and is now spearheading this show, where do you draw the line between sort of telling the story that you want to tell and trusting your vision and keeping everyone engaged and happy?
Nick Wauters: Oh. We have an overall plan for what we're going to do while we remain flexible as far as you know what each episode is going to be. If there's an interesting story or character that is a small character and then all the sudden we discover that this character has a lot of potential, we'll take a detour and explore that character. And you know I think it's the same thing with the feedback that we get on line, and obviously we're seven episodes into production right now. There's a delay between the time you get the feedback on certain episodes and when you're filming so - but overall I think you know it's important to stick to the vision you originally had but also listen to the fans. And for instance if something is complicated to follow, if it's a format issue or something like that there are things that you know I would definitely adapt if people had problems with. I'm definitely listening.
Ian Anthony Dale: So Nick if the audience wanted a love interest for Simon Lee would we see that maybe like in Episodes 12 and 13 or something?
Nick Wauters: Yes, absolutely. That's something we've been wanting to do actually.
Ian Anthony Dale: Excellent.
Nick Wauters: So if the audience talks about that and makes some suggestions we're listening.
Ian Anthony Dale: Awesome.
Nick, in the first three episodes the show seems very heavily plot driven. And you have character moments but I'm wondering if there are any plans in the future to sort of do a Lost-type thing where you focus more on characters and the plot takes a back seat or are you just going to keep pushing forward with plot for the foreseeable future?
Nick Wauters: I think our show, I mean our show needs a certain amount of energy and mystery to keep the audience captivated. But I also think you know characters are everything. And even though there wasn't a lot of room for character development in the pilot I did spend a lot of time creating those characters and developing them and imaging, really knowing who they are. And only a tiny little piece of their personalities were featured in the pilot so we're actually definitely going to start exploring each character. And I think probably in a similar fashion that Lost did I think sometimes focusing on specific character. And I think the episode we're filming now is Episode 6, right?
Ian Anthony Dale: We just finished six and we're on to seven.
Nick Wauters: Okay, but six was a big episode for Simon, really looking into his past and who he is. And as we move forward actually the flashbacks that we're using are going to you know help us look into who our characters are. So the flashbacks are going to be more character driven than plot driven.
Ian Anthony Dale: You have flashbacks anyway. Go ahead Nick. I was just saying they really serve as a really great device for getting to learn about who these characters are. Especially in Episode 6 and then Episode 7 with Blake Sterling. But yeah, but the - you know the story line and the present day story line and the action doesn't get sacrificed when we delve into the characters more. I mean I think we balance the two very well as we move forward.
You mentioned not wanting to frustrate viewers but so far there's been a lot of Sophia saying I can't tell you that. Will there come a point when she can tell us that?
Nick Wauters: Yeah, you're going to start finding things out very soon. Give it a couple more episodes and I mean you're going to get a little bit frustrated and that's part of the fun. I mean that's why people watch these shows because you want to have a question that you really want to know the answer to and come back the following week. But yeah, Sophia's going to have a big episode also and we're finally going to find out you know exactly what she's hiding and what she's up to and so that's coming in the next few episodes.
Ian, the chemistry on screen between you and your co-stars looked really flawless. Was it instantly when you began working together or did it take a bit of time for it to develop?
Ian Anthony Dale: You know what, it felt pretty instant. You know I have the luxury of working with some really talented actors and really great people and Blair Underwood and Laura Innes and Zeljko Ivanek, I'm the luckiest guy in the world to get to work with these people. And they're veterans at the game and I've been in the business for about ten years but you know any time you get to work with people of this caliber, it's kind of special. So I almost feel like I have to raise my game in order to meet their level and it's always great to just work with people who are really talented. Because you know they bring you up. They lift you up and so yeah, it was kind of effortless with them. But it's just been awesome, it's been a pleasure to work with these guys and I'm loving it.
Ian for your character, how is this character different than any other character you've played and what kind of a journey do you think he's on?
Ian Anthony Dale: I've played a lot of bad guys and you know at this point in the show you know we really don't know if Simon is good or bad. But his driving force is very - I guess his belief in what he you know wants to accomplish and is very honest and truthful. And to him it's for the best reasons you could think of. And so I love playing a character that has such a belief in what he's doing and such a passion for what he's doing, and is willing to take the ultimate risks of you know sacrificing his own life at times to get what he needs to get done. So it's great, you know as the story continues we'll begin to learn a lot more about Simon and ultimately if he is good or if he is bad and things I'm getting to do on the show are really great. I mean you know Nick spoke about Episode 6 being an episode where we really get to learn a lot about what makes Simon tick. And we get to explore things in his past you know that really show a different side of Simon. And you know I really can't speak too much about it, but it's just - it's I guess I can just tell you I'm getting to do things on this show that I've never you know had the chance to do before. And it's just been awesome. And you know for that I'm so happy and thankful and - but it's just I'm getting to be challenged and as an actor that's all you can ask for is to have challenging juicy opportunities and you know I pretty much get that every episode on this show.
Great pilot but the one complaint I heard was that there were a lot of time jumps and it was too confusing to follow. I was wondering if you've heard that criticism and if we can expect more time jumps because personally I love them, it keeps me interested.
Nick Wauters: Thank you and yeah, I've heard and I think for me it was part of the fun of trying to challenge people and challenge the audience to try and you know piece the different pieces of the puzzle together. But they're going to take less space I guess. And as we continue the series, the next few episodes you're going to see fewer of these flashbacks. We're still going to use them but as we move forward they're going to be a little less present. And they're going to focus more on character development than plot development. So it's also a great tool to explore the past of you know of our characters. So we're definitely going to continue using them for that purpose. So they're going to be there. We're hearing the feedback and we're going to try and make things as easy to follow as possible and still as interesting as possible but they'll still be around.
The Event airs on Monday nights at 9 PM ET on NBC.