Last week, viewers were introduced to the very unusual town of Wayward Pines—though the intro surely left them with more questions than answers.
Executive producer and professional mood-maker, M. Night Shyamalan, takes fans and the show’s star, Matt Dillion, into a bizarre world where things just aren’t quite what they seem. We asked Shymalan (who directed the first ep), Dillion (who plays detective Ethan Burke), and actress Carla Gugino (who plays Kate Hewson) for all the details they’d be willing to share about the new show.
How did the project come to you and what was your initial reaction to the script?
Night Shyamalan: You know, I’ve been thinking about getting into TV, I was interested in it, and people have been sending scripts and things—“Hey, would you be interested in this, being part of this show?” in a nutshell. And then they sent me this script for Wayward Pines. Someone in my office read it, and he said, “You gotta read this thing.” And so just from his expression I knew it was something special. And that night I read it and—you’ll see when you see the first episode—when I finished it, I was like, “I don’t know what’s going on in this show, and I’m really excited. And I want to find out what’s happening.” So that’s a good sign, when I have to find out what’s going on.
What’s great about being the pilot director of a project like this?
Shymalan: This is the first time I’ve ventured into TV, and so I’m learning, learning as we go what the rules are and all that stuff. But I’ll tell you, to direct the pilot and be a producer this early on, it’s really gratifying because you get to establish the tone. You get to establish the cast and the crew and what the cinematic meanings are for everything, where are we taking off from and where we are going… It’s really exciting to be a part of it. I’m lucky to have gotten the opportunity to direct this pilot.
What did you think when you heard M. Night Shyamalan was going to direct this?
Carla Gugino: I was really excited that M. Night Shyamalan was going to be doing this. Some of us went down to his house in Philadelphia prior to filming to spend time together, talk about the show, and have a bit of rehearsal time. This project is very much akin to his aesthetic, but it was a new format for him, so he embarked on it with genuine excitement and a sense of adventure. I loved being directed by him. He watches astutely and his direction is subtle, very specific, and hugely helpful. I think all the actors felt that way. He has a strong sense of what he wants while allowing the actors to have the creative freedom to take risks and try things. He just directed the first episode and established a clear tone for the show. I wish we’d had him for more!
What is the town of Wayward Pines like?
Matt Dillion: Wayward Pines is not the typical wholesome all-American town it appears to be. Ethan is aware of this early on, in spite of his physical condition. Ethan arrives after having just been in a horrific collision on the highway and stumbles into town half-conscious and disoriented from a head injury. From the beginning of the story, there’s always a question in his mind and in the mind of the viewer as to whether what he is experiencing is real or imagined. It appears to be an orderly benevolent place, and then, Ethan begins to learn that there are secrets in the town. And as he scratches the surface, the dark underbelly starts seeping up through the sidewalk at every turn.
Wayward Pines airs on Thursdays at 9/8c on FOX (check local listings).