While Canal continues the broadcast of the series with two new unreleased this evening at 9:05 pm, showrunner Howard Overman (“Misfits”) talks about the challenges encountered on the set of this second season.
While the Season 1 finale left us on a cliffhanger, Season 2 of War of the Worlds picks up a few months after the final events, as Emily (Daisy Edgar-Jones) disappears in an alien ship after discovering that these the latter had a human appearance.
Loosely based on the novel by HG Wells, which fell into the public domain in 2017, Howard Overman, creator of the series, takes the same starting point – an alien invasion – by adding his own interpretation to this recognized title.
“The book was so ahead of its time“, he confides,”but I never felt limited by the artwork, because I think the central idea of its story, an alien invasion and its consequences for humanity, can be taken in any direction.“
After a brief time jump of a few months, the plot of the series picks up where we left off. So little has changed for most of the characters, most have had to toughen up. “Tom (Ty Tennant, Emily’s brother, editor’s note) is a good example of their evolution. He was an innocent kid in college, he was scared and lost all the time. “
“When we find him in season 2, he’s been fighting non-stop for four months; he shook himself up and became a soldier. I think we often see this kind of phenomenon in combat zones: children lose their childishness and change quite quickly.“
Probable science fiction
While the series has a significant budget, the showrunner did not want to impose expensive battle scenes with a large number of extras and special effects, and introduced a style that is both intimate and cinematic to the series.
“We wanted to tell personal, intense and intimate stories. We work hard to make the sets and locations where the show takes place look believable, filming long shots and giving a real cinematic feel, as opposed to a more “TV” edit, with alternating close-ups. and wide shots“he explains.
Regarding the appearance of aliens, Howard Overman wanted, with his creative teams, to constitute a science fiction which makes “true“, citing the example of rusty scrap metal floating in space in the Star Wars saga.”I wasn’t interested in doing shiny, immaculate things that looked ultra-futuristic. I wanted to stay down to earth, down to earth. I think that’s what technology will look like in the future. Things get manhandled and scratched, we will be a long way from a hackneyed vision of a perfect white world.“
Turning into COVID Times
During the filming of this season 2, filmed between France, Wales and London, the main challenge was to succeed in filming in the middle of a global pandemic. But against all expectations, this constraint turned out to be an asset.
“When it comes to spotting, indoor locations in buildings or private homes are usually difficult to find. But with the pandemic, we were able to film in places like cinemas, shopping malls … These kind of places that we would never have been able to access, because too expensive or crowded, were all closed because of the COVID.”
Filming a post-apocalyptic series in deserted streets, places emptied of their audience under a sky devoid of air traffic has therefore turned out to be rather beneficial for the film crews. “Usually we had to remove [ce genre de détails] with special effects. Obviously, when we filmed during the lockdown, the streets were empty and there were no planes.“
Characters on borrowed time
This season 2, which is a direct extension of the first, explores the idea of knowing how far man would be able to go to preserve himself, and how different we are from those to whom we have declared war, continues the showrunner.
With, the key, the revelation that we can be our own enemy, and that humanity must confront itself. “I believe it is for this reason that throughout history, military strategists have always tried to dehumanize their enemies. It’s easier to kill people you don’t identify with. One of the things that history teaches us is that when you understand that people have more similarities than differences, it is more difficult to fight them.. “
Now that we now know who the aliens are in the series, this season 2 explores the reasons for their attack and their desire to destroy humanity. “It all started with a quote from Stephen Hawking: the idea that if one day we found aliens things would go wrong, just like when we went to other countries and colonized them. In a way, it’s history repeating itself.“
For the showrunner, no question of getting in the lace when it comes to the treatment of his characters. “It’s an alien invasion, billions of people are dying! It’s interesting, during a meeting with journalists for the promotion of season 1, everyone criticized me for having killed this little girl in the fridge in an episode. And then I underlined the fact that before that, I had killed six billion people!“
“I think it’s important that shows like Game of Thrones show us that we live in a dangerous world. If all of your main characters survive, then there’s no threat, and it doesn’t feel real.“
And in view of season 2, the fate of the heroes of War of the Worlds is not ready to work out since, according to him, some of the most appreciated characters of the series are likely to pass away in the next episodes …
Far from being sanitized, the series confronts us with the brutal death of characters to which we are attached, but also to the fact that they commit dubious acts to survive, and which challenge us. “I live a comfortable and secure life, in the middle class, and it’s very easy to just sit there and do nothing, and think that you would never do anything wrong or immoral. But if someone threatened to take it out on my kids, then I’m not sure there would be a limit to what I could do.“
Bill Ward (Gabriel Byrne), the neuroscientist who is trying to develop a virus to eradicate aliens, must ask himself this question as he realizes that Emily would be an ideal guinea pig: how far is he willing to go to protect humanity?
“In the face of a pandemic, people panicked and bought astronomical quantities of toilet paper; so imagine their reaction to an alien invasion … In that sense, I hope the show manages to reflect the best and the worst of ourselves.“