Officially in filming since Monday, May 3, 1899, the new series from the creators of Dark promises to be an ambitious project. Mathilde Ollivier and Yann Gael, two French actors from this pan-European cast, take a behind-the-scenes look at the series.
Announced already in November 2018, 1899 the new creation of Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar enters filming today. The German duo, already at the initiative of the acclaimed science fiction series Dark, continue their collaboration with Netflix with this series consisting of 8 episodes.
Mathilde Ollivier – seen in Overlord, a production by JJ Abrams – and Yann Gael – known for his roles in Duel au soleil and Le Rêve Français – are part of this major international cast. They passed their castings by video, pandemic obliges, but were immediately caught by the intrigue and the scale of the series. They deliver some behind-the-scenes secrets of this suspenseful series.
Officially announced by Netflix, the synopsis for 1899 reads as follows: “In 1899, at the dawn of the 20th century, European passengers on a sailing ship to the New World, united by their hope and dreams for a Promised Land, discovered a ghost ship adrift in the open sea that was going turn their trip into a nightmare …“
The production jealously guards any other plot clue that is briefly reminiscent of that of the first season of The Terror. However, Mathilde Ollivier paints the portrait of her character, Clémence, a Frenchwoman from a very bourgeois Parisian background:
“She’s trapped in an arranged marriage with someone she doesn’t like at all. And the goal for her on this boat, discovering the New World, is to be able to free herself and choose her life. Not having to bow down, smile like the perfect girl everyone expects her to be.“
“Me, I embody Jérôme who embarked on Kerberos to face his past. He is a bit on a path of revenge. He’s looking for someone who betrayed him and who may be on the boat.“says Yann Gael.
Of course, the question arises as to whether 1899 will have the same narrative complexity as Dark with its time travel. The two actors are tackling … there will be no time travel, but the emotional lift should always be there!
A pan-European casting
Contrary to Dark which was exclusively in German, 1899 benefits from an international cast and each actor will perform in their mother tongue. An ambition rare enough to be highlighted and which joins Heroes in the department of multilingual series.
Will thus be present alongside Mathilde Ollivier and Yann Gael: Emily Beecham (Into the Badlands), Aneurin Barnard (Le Chardonneret), Andreas Pietschmann (Dark), Miguel Bernardeau (Elite), Maciej Musial (The Witcher), Anton Lesser (Game Of Thrones), Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen (The Rain), Rosalie Craig (London Road), Clara Rosager (The Rain), Maria Erwolter (The Ritual) …
A gigantic production
The Covid crisis forced Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar to completely change the initial project which consisted of scouting and filming on site. But this constraint allows them to shoot on a custom-built virtual set in the famous Babelsberg studios, outside Berlin.
Thanks to giant LED screens, they will benefit from the same technology as The Mandalorian. “It is quite striking. When I learned that this technology existed, I didn’t think I would have the chance to shoot in such conditions. Our job is still the imagination, to summon emotions. But there, we can immerse ourselves more easily. Everything becomes possible. It helps us to open up more. It’s more immersive.“enthuses Yann Gael.
In terms of costumes, 1988 promises to be just as ambitious. Bina Daigeler works as a costume designer on the series. She is best known for her work on Mulan which earned him an Oscar nomination this year.
What’s amazing when I discovered my costume is that I really thought it was a period costume. While no, it’s a costume that was made from A to Z “is still surprised Yann Gael.” There is know-how, attention to detail. They are really designed for the actors, so that we can do our job. It is a great luxury for us.
Same fervor on the side of Mathilde Ollivier: “Je wears a corset. It was custom made and it’s not at all disturbing. Unlike the first time I wore a corset – it was a vintage corset – I wouldn’t say it’s bliss for eight hours but it’s really easy.“
Historical but current
The production of 1899 was heralded at the height of the migrant crisis, when large numbers of people arrived in Europe from the Middle East and Africa to flee conflicts and economic crises. This influence is clearly felt in the plot, with the ship’s passengers – of all nationalities and social backgrounds – looking for a better life abroad.
Hence this desire to have not only a pan-European cast but also a technical team from all over Europe. In an interview with Deadline, the two creators explain having wanted to give a counterpoint to Brexit and to the nationalisms that are emerging on the old continent.
It will now be necessary to wait before seeing the result. Filming should take several weeks. In all likelihood, 1899 will not go live until 2022. Here is a teaser, in the meantime, which gives an idea of the mood: