What if aliens were much closer to humans than they imagined? This second chapter of “The War of the Worlds” on Canal + took on a particular flavor for its main actor, Gabriel Byrne, after a year of global pandemic.
Launched on May 17 on Canal +, this second chapter of The War of the Worlds Franco-British version, darker than ever, takes on a disturbing dimension in this period of health crisis. Fear of the Other, devastating bacteriological attack, disrupted world order: the adaptation of HG Wells’ novel by showrunner Howard Overman gives humanity a very dark perspective.
In the series, Gabriel Byrne, an Irish actor revealed in Miller’s Crossing by the Coen brothers and who became an international star with the series In Analysis, plays Bill Ward, a renowned neuroscientist determined to find a cure for the aliens who have virtually eradicated humanity. in a few days.
A big fan of the original novel, the actor found a relevant echo with the news when he was presented with the adaptation project a few years earlier. “At the time, I was asked what aliens were in my opinion, and I answered the environment. I think that’s what these creatures represent, the real threat to humanity, and how we’re going to have to deal with it.“
“The power of this type of story is to make you, on an unconscious level, think about the world. When I read a script, I always ask myself: what is the content? What is his message? If in its content I find a good reason to commit to a project, I do. “
In this second season, Bill’s character finds himself devastated after watching his loved ones perish in the disaster. How to move forward when you have lost everything? “He’s a scientist. Because he has an inherent desire to solve problems, he sets out on a race to try and find the solution to this horror. To me, that gives him yet another strong reason to try to resolve this threat. It is almost as if he is avenging himself, in reparation for the death of his wife and son.“
Through the development of a virus, Bill Ward tries in this season to analyze the aliens in order to be able to destroy them from the inside. But first he must understand what they are, and where they come from … When double agents are not hiding among the survivors. Indeed, this season 2 explores the idea that the invader can be human with, in subtext, the idea that we are our own enemies, according to the actor.
“The idea of the virus was written before the pandemic. Sometimes there are things in the air that we stumble upon by chance. But it’s not just about a virus in the literal sense: for me it also speaks about the virus of disinformation, and how we have all been contaminated by “alternative facts” to use the expression of Kellyanne Conway (adviser to former President Donald Trump, editor’s note). Now people are having a hard time defining what the truth is.“
The role of the scientist he embodies then becomes the meager hope to which Catherine Durand (Léa Drucker) and her team clings in this season, in order to put an end to the massacre of humanity.
“The real threat is not from aliens, it is from humanity. That’s one of the things the show says pretty clearly (…) Why are we still dragging our feet today in the face of climate change ?“he gets carried away. “How much time do we have left if we don’t act? This is where the show is very relevant: we have to be afraid of that, not of the monsters in the movies.“
From this perspective, the actor is very critical of superhero films. “Their subtext is that one individual can save the world. It’s delusional. The only way the world can be saved is through collective action.”
For Gabriel Byrne, fiction allows us to place our fears in a specific place and to resolve them symbolically. But the real question is whether we are able to concretely solve the problems we face today.
“Often times, we have a hard time identifying who the real enemy is. We are distracted from the real issues: is Donald Trump’s hair fake, what color will Prince Harry’s baby be … Empty speeches that don’t solve anything.”
Very dark, and not sparing the viewer, this new season of the series places us face to face with our own responsibility as individuals: are we capable of making the right choices in times of crisis? “There is nothing that is happening today that has not already happened in the past “, continues the actor. “All societies are fragile: the Roman Empire, ancient Greece, the Phoenicians … They all collapsed. Mankind survived. But history is repeating itself, and it is no accident that we don’t teach us it properly, because if we can forget the past, we don’t care about the present.“
“The only thing that cannot be predicted is the future”, he concludes. “The only way to get to it is through science fiction. That’s what makes this genre so exciting.”
War of the Worlds season 2, every Monday at 9:05 p.m. on Canal +